Apple launched iOS 9 last night, packing a hell of a lot of new features and updates, plus its spangly new Music service and an updated WatchOS. But all Apple’s keynote proved was how the Cupertino company is still lagging behind rivals such as Android and even Windows Phone in many areas.
In the course of two and a half hours, Tim Cook and crew showed off dozens of new apps and features for iPhone, iPad and even the Apple Watch, which is only a month and a half old right now (did someone say ‘rushed out’?)
We were expecting iOS 9 to pack a lot of behind-the-scenes improvements to give better performance and battery life, but there was a laundry list of front-end updates too. But while we were frantically typing to try and note down each improvement, we had a serious sense of deja-vu. Indeed, most of Apple’s updated features have been done somewhere before, by big rivals such as Google or Microsoft.
Just look at Siri, who can now remind you to do things when you reach specific locations like your home or place of work – something that Cortana has been doing for ages already. She’ll also give you traffic updates based on upcoming meetings, just like Google Now.
And iOS 9 boasts improved search functionality, so you can ask for photos of your best mate wearing lederhosen and be presented with exactly that. If that sounds familiar, it’s because Google Photos does the exact same thing, as announced just last month. And Google’s recent move into real-time public transit mapping will also ring a few bells for anyone who watched Apple’s WWDC 2015 keynote.
Apple News? This news is pretty damn stale considering it’s basically another take on Flipboard, with equally snazzy design (Flipboard was launched five years ago in case you were wondering). And while the fact that Apple News ‘learns what you like’ is all well and good, it’s also another feature long since written into Cortana’s code.
And then we come to the big one. Multi-tasking with split-screen apps. Something we’ve been doing on Android devices including Samsung and LG tablets for years now. The fact that this feature is only just creeping onto our iPads is nothing short of mind-blowing, and we only hope that the rapturous applause of the Apple audience held a smidgen of irony. But we doubt it.
As for WatchOS 2, it’s no real shock that Apple is already onto the second version of its wearable interface. After all, other manufacturers such as Samsung have been churning out watch after watch in a matter of months and Android Wear has already received some major improvements in its short lifespan. It’s just a symptom of the wearable industry in general, with everyone rushing their products to market before they’ve had much of a chance to consider how useful they actually are.
Of course, that still didn’t stop Apple from apparently leeching from the likes of Pebble Time for its new set of Watch features.
Still, there’s always Apple Music, right? Well, this response from Spotify CEO Daniel Ek probably sums it up: