I’m an app developer. There are many things I’d love to talk to Apple about, sometimes shaking my fist and saying names. Their lack of innovation is not one of those things.
For the last few years I’ve heard nothing but scorn toward Apple’s latest products. The iPhone 7 and the headphone jack (?). A plus sized phone with two cameras. Portrait mode. The iPad Pro and it’s pencil. The touchbar on the MacBook. Dongles. The entire history of the Apple Watch. You get the idea. I’m not saying any of these were perfect; my point is they were new and exciting. Innovative, even.
How many of these features, gimmicks, innovations, whatever you want to call them, have stayed uncopied? Google smugly included a headphone jack in their Pixel line… for one year. Samsung is having a good go at portrait mode, along with Google and others I can’t think of. There’s a few brave companies trying to battle the iPad, and apparently Android Wear is a thing. Somewhere. Pixel Buds look suspiciously like Air Pods that aren’t meant to look like Air Pods.
I’m also not saying Apple is the only company that’s innovating. There are a lot of companies creating some incredible products, some more influential than others. DJI is a prime example. But to act as if Apple have lost their touch is, well, a bit silly.
The iPhone X is a prime example of innovation being lost in criticism. Sure, Apple didn’t invent wireless charging and were famously late to the wireless smartphone charging table. And the same people who criticised this “inability to compete” are now criticising the expensive glass backs on their iPhones. I would be willing to bet the real reason wireless charging hasn’t come to iPhone before is because Apple were reluctant to make an all glass phone and deal with the backlash that comes with dropping an all glass phone. For the record, I think the notch on the iPhone X is a shame, disrupting an otherwise perfect display. I love that Apple used their brand and reputation to make it work, and as a user I barely notice it.
The main thing that shocks me with tech reviewers, critics and consumers is their refusal to acknowledge when Apple blows the competition out of the water. I’m talking about the camera on the iPhone X and 8. Sure, some people (most people) prefer the Pixel 2’s camera for stills. They look great, and I’m hoping software updates will help bring the iPhone to that level. I still think portrait mode is better on iPhone; machine learning and artificial blur can only do so much compared to hardware. It’s the iPhone’s video capabilities that had me excited. Cinematic 4K! 240 fps at 1080p! What?!?! On a phone? My DSLR can’t even do that. And for what it’s worth, the camera on the iPhone X is insane, to the point I’ll review it separately.
I think the people criticising Apple’s lack of innovation have a fundamental misunderstanding of what innovation is. Innovation is meant to be the process of changing, disrupting, (insert buzz words) to improve an organisation. It’s hard to say Apple’s position hasn’t improved over the years. Their brand value has increased by around a third since 2013, seeing them dominate the watch, headphone and music streaming industries as well as the smartphone and personal computing industries.
If that hasn’t improved the organisation then call me a liar in the comments.