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Apple makes news with iOS 7, fails to excite

With lots of news, but no real surprises revealed during the opening keynote for Apple?s annual developer?s conference, the manufacturing giant did little to dispel concerns that it is losing its innovative edge.

As expected, Apple introduced its latest update for the iOS mobile operating system, as well as a new mobile radio service at the WWDC event yesterday. While iOS 7 has lots of nifty new features, there is no major new developments to get excited about, such as Passbook did for iOS last year.

"It's still nothing game-changing for Apple, but it's definitely an incremental increase,? said Dipesh Mukerji, senior director of product strategy and marketing at Kony, Orlando, FL. ?The judgment won't be as harsh for this release since Apple is just refining what they have, not necessarily doing anything brand new as they did with Maps and Passbook in the iOS 6 release.

?Whoever is an iPhone user is going to be excited about this release,? he said. ?The early adopters of Apple will definitely go pick up the iOS 7, but I don't think it will be as viral for the developers.

?On the developer side of things, they are definitely given more features and tool sets to play with, but I don't think it's going necessarily going to make an Android developer jump ship for Apple.?

ITunes Radio
The new iTunes Radio lets users access a variety of radio stations such as Featured Stations, stations inspired by music they choose or have already listened and more than 200 genre-based stations. The more users listen to it, the more personalized the content becomes.

Users can also build new stations while they listen as well as control the balance between playing the hits and discovering less familiar songs.

As expected, the new iTunes Radio service is similar to what Pandora is already offering.

The new service will give Apple an important way to drive sales on iTunes ? with users can easily tap to download songs they want to purchase directly from iTunes. It could also help Apple ramp up its mobile advertising strategy, with the company reportedly already working with brands to put their messaging on the platform (see story).

Integrated experiences
While the iPhone and iPad face an increasingly competitive mobile market ? and sales showing some softness as a result ? Apple still reported some strong results yesterday.

For example, users have downloaded 50 billion apps overall and there are 900,000 apps in the App Store, 90 percent of which are actively downloaded each month.

The company also said that the mobile Web share for iOS is 60 percent compared with 24 percent for Android and 16 percent for other mobile operating systems.

When it comes to tablets, iPad has an 82 percent share of tablet Web compared with 18 percent for all other tablets.

Additionally, 93 percent of iOS users are on iOS 6, which is one of Apple's advantages ? the ability to quickly distribute updates. In comparison, more than one-third of Android users are using an OS that was released in 2010, per Apple.

"The big news is undoubtedly iOS 7,? Mr. Mukerji said. ?Mavericks release is a great update, but developers are more excited about iOS 7 since our phones are so engrained into our lives.

?Organizationally, the iPhone is much better now as things are finally integrated,? he said. ?From using your calendar to notes, to multi-tasking, tagging and more, everything is integrated.

?It was also announced that majority of Apple's apps are now going to be integrated with iCloud as well. The design is also completely flat, which looks very cool, but it's exactly how we thought it was going to look.

The flat design will result in a better experience for users, but does not have much of an impact on developers, per Mr. Mukerji.

IOS 7, which will be available in the fall, features a brand new look that includes distinct, functional layers and the ability for users to see behind icons and swipe between apps.

The new features include Control Center, which gives users quick access to certain frequently used controls and apps. Users can swipe up from any screen to do things such as switch to Airplane mode, turn Wi-Fi on or off, or adjust the brightness of their display.

The new Notification Center informs users about new mail, missed calls, items on their to-do list and a summary of the day, with the notices about if it is someone?s birthday, what the weather is and any traffic problems.

AirDrop enables users to share photos, videos, contacts and other content from any app with a Share button.

Apps Near Me shows users a collection of popular apps relevant to their current location.

One of the announcements likely to impact developers is that iOS 7 will be integrated with the car navigation system.

?What's exciting for Kony with this release is that Apple finally understands the power of multichannel as they announced that iOS 7 will be integrated with the car navigation system,? Mr. Mukerji said.

?By integrating the OS across all channels, Apple is showing that multichannel is becoming a necessity for all developers,? he said.

Final Take
Chantal Tode is associate editor on Mobile Marketer, New York