iOS 5: not "magical" or "revolutionary"

Yesterday, Steve Jobs took stage yet again, hoping to impress the crowds at this years WWDC conference. He showed off OS X Lion, you showed off iCloud and you showed off iOS 5, however none of them really impressed - WWDC wasn't magical this time around.

iOS 5 was rumored, hyped and talked up for months before this event, yet the actual operating system is far from revolutionary. You've fallen behind, Apple, and you are starting to play boring catch up games with other major operating systems rather than doing any innovation. Your features have slipped; the creative talent seemingly left to another place. 

You introduced a "new" notification system that is better than the previous system found in iOS. However it failed to take any serious steps to take on the systems found in both Android and Windows Phone 7 from launch. This new system shows notifications at the top after you swipe down from the top area - exactly like the system Android has used since its 2008 launch - along with notifications on the home screen, which not only does Windows Phone 7 already have, but also some Android skins do as well.

It's no use using the exact same design with your notification system. Consumers aren't going to be happy if you blatantly rip-off features from another operating system, and what's even worse is that they won't be sued for doing it. If anyone copied an Apple feature, or even using a name vaguely similar to an Apple product name, they would be sued within seconds; however no doubt Google won't have the guts to tackle this head on with a lawsuit.

Then there's the Twitter integration. Unfortunately, again you see iOS 5 struggling to keep up with the times: firstly Apple was second to the announcing gate as Windows Phone 7 beat them to the mark with announcing Twitter integration in WP7 "Mango" back in February; secondly, Android has had a similar form of Twitter integration, allowing posting of photos, contact sync, links to post to Twitter and more since the functionality was introduced in Android 2.0 way back in late 2009, and before that with HTC Sense.

Then come the minor features. Browser tabs are available in Android third party browsers (as well as on Windows Phone 7's stock one from launch), launching the camera bypassing the lockscreen is achieved in Windows Phone 7 by holding the camera button, reading list in the browser can again be done with an app (so can the newsstand feature) and iMessage is quite obviously a copy of the BlackBerry Messenger service that has been around for more than five years.

Then there's the other major feature we almost forgot. Device updates without connecting to a computer. This has been one of the best features of Android's update system and loved by its users while iPhone users struggle downloading 600 MB updates. Only now, four years from the release of the first iPhone, has Apple figured out that perhaps people don't want or need a computer to update their phone, and they don't want to download ridiculously huge system updates. 

This is the point where it gets ridiculous. Releasing old features and calling them new is simply a joke waiting to be made. We know Apple can come up with interesting new features and ideas, such as multi-touch gestures, brand new and appealing devices to tackle areas of the market and even cool names for their Mac OS' (eg. Lion, Snow Leopard), however todays WWDC showed none of this. Apple is leaving the creative spark to other companies; to Microsoft and Google; when two years ago it firmly held the reigns.

No one can reasonably call any of the new iOS 5 features revolutionary, because they are simply copies of other mobile operating systems, or ideas that have already been thought up. No user can call the new features magical, because they aren't when you look briefly at Android or WP7. Apple can't pull the usual "it's slimmer, lighter and faster" to wow the market because nothing was slimmer, lighter or faster this time around.

Apple, it's time to pull your own weight. It's time to get back in the magical innovation game.

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