4 Ways Apple Could Be More Innovative

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WWDC 2013 could be labeled a software-catchup. For a few years Apple’s been kicking back and watching the market progress. Finally they decided to adopt some features from the market and avoided some others:

  • They aren’t going to pause my video when I look away, like the new Samsung phone
  • They aren’t going to add a feature to answer the iPhone by waving your hand over it
  • They aren’t going to make me bump my phone with other phones to trade pictures

Those seem like wise decisions. Here’s what they are doing:

  • Apple will make more features accessible from the lock screen such as the flashlight, Airplane mode, and some other common features
  • They’re tracking and syncing username and password information across all devices, so you don’t have to remember all your different log-in credentials
  • We’ll also be getting iTunes radio

Ultimately, they brought functionality up to 2013 standards and made the iPhone OS prettier. I expect next year we’ll see new hardware. Unfortunately that means that Apple has neglected to focus on a lot of the software features I think they should be doing:

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Apple TV- Getting Smaller because It’s Not Getting Any Better

Has gone too many years being mediocre. This year they’ve added a feature for using Apple TV to make your TV act as a second monitor. I don’t know about you, but for me that’s a yawn. I’ve believed for years now that Apple TV is the product Apple should be trying to aw people with. It has more potential for improvement than any other product. Here’s why:

  • Apple TV apps are limited to what Apple ships it with. None are overly exciting. A movie trailers app, the iTunes store, Vimeo, YouTube, and some sports apps.
  • No games!??! If they brought the App store to Apple TV then developers could build games specifically for it. The Apple TV could come with a motion sensor hook up to play Wii-like games. Imagine what cool stuff the marketplace would come up with! Maybe they could even make it so your iPad or iPhone camera could be the sensor, controller, and motion stick?
  • Apple TV should be trying to become the main mechanism for home integration technology. Make it so, if you’re on the same WiFi network, you can use your other Apple devices to watch what’s on the TV, pause it, share it, snip a clip from a show and post it to your Facebook, etc. Going between the kitchen and living room while trying to watch your show? Just grab your iPad and walk out of the room, who needs to pause when they can multi-task?

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iWhat?

Still underwhelming. It isn’t game changing. It isn’t worth putting in their Keynote. Having it out there and available can’t hurt but getting on stage and talking about it… I wouldn’t. I use Excel for work everyday and, as an advanced user, I can say it is a great tool. But the vast majority of people don’t know how to do 99% of what Excel is capable of . Apple has a knack for making things simpler. Add to that the fact that data analytics is taking on an enormous importance in business and you’ve got a huge opportunity. Make an spreadsheet program with tons of advanced functions that are Apple-simple. Intuitive ways to create advanced things.

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Siri- Improvements continue to be a half-assed

 A new voice, cool! What can it say and do? Pretty much the same stuff? Oh. She can only reliably search things like movies, restaurants, and read texts. Meanwhile, Google is setting the stage for a much more advanced version of Siri. Have you noticed they are integrating tons of information directly into their search engine results? Now when you search for movies, flights, sports, historical figures, etc. the first thing to come up in your search is a snippet of Google information. If Google launches a Siri in the future, you’ll be able to ask “Who is Roberto DeNiro?” and it will reference its existing actor database. You can ask, “when’s the next Red Sox game?” And Android will be able to tell you it’s tomorrow night versus Tampa Bay. That’s the sort of conversational, artificial intelligence that will make Siri look dumb and Apple outdone.

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The iPad as a Trackpad/Command Center

Another great example of where Apple has the existing hardware to do something really cool, but hasn’t, is the iPad. The iPad should be easily paired with your iMac or Macbook, allowing you some really cool new features. Some software should build secondary iPad screens. For instance, iPhoto should recognize your iPad is on the desk next to your computer and make the iPad have common tools for cropping pictures, resizing, etc. If you are playing a game, the iPad could let you control and command squads, command air strikes and assaults, or even quickly gesture special melee combat moves.

Overall, I just feel like Tim Cook has some big shoes to fill and he hasn’t gone out and found a way to really awe everyone yet. I’m starting to think that it is because he doesn’t know how. Let me rephrase that. I am an Apple lover. So I am beginning to be worried that Tim Cook doesn’t know how to build things that people get really, really excited about.

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