By Lisa Johnston
New products on display at the American International Toy Fair, held in N
NEW YORK – Apple’s planned iOS 7 will make iPhones and iPads more up to date without alienating current users as Microsoft did in launching Windows 8, analysts told TWICE.
The updated OS also will reassure the most cutting- edge iOS users that they’re not being left behind in the competitive dust, they said.
Earlier this month, Apple unveiled a major redesign of its mobile OS in the face of growing competition from Samsung, HTC, BlackBerry, Nokia and other mobile-device makers. The new iOS will be available in the fall for the iPhone 4 and later and for the iPad 2, iPad Mini and the fifth-generation iPod Touch. A next-generation iPhone will likely be launched at the same time.
“A refresh like this generally helps to attract new buzz to the platform while maintaining the loyalty of the existing base,” said Roger Entner of Recon Analytics. Consumers who don’t use Apple products “will give it a try because it is different, and existing customers will feel reassured that Apple is continuing to provide the best OS,” he continued. “It will certainly help them to defend against this deluge of new phones vying for the customer’s favor.”
Ovum analyst Jan Dawson called iOS7 “a massive overhaul of the look and feel of the operating system, which has remained largely unchanged visually since the original version.”
Stephen Baker of The NPD Group called it “most significant” that the company, “having the No. 1 product, is willing to make some fairly substantial changes to their product. They’re willing to take that level of chance with the most successful product.” He added, “If we’ve learned anything from Windows 8, it’s that the bigger your user base, the harder it is to institute that level of change.”
The changes will freshen up Apple’s devices without disaffecting current users, and it will “reassure the most cutting-edge users that they’re not being left behind” by advances in other smartphone OSs, he said.
Although other smartphones will still offer more software and hardware features than current iPhones upgraded to iOS 7, Baker added, “People don’t buy the iPhone for all that other stuff — they buy it for ease of use.”
“Tech bloggers might think Apple is losing its edge, but the mass market doesn’t have that same viewpoint,” he said.
For his part, William A. Stofega, IDC’s mobile phones program director, said Apple’s iOS 7 announcement “allows Apple to reaffirm its place in the market and reassure current users that they [Apple] are still in the game, though I never had any questions about that.”
He called it “absolutely clear” that Apple had to refresh its OS by “recasting the look and feel and adding new features and functions to the OS,” although he noted that “not all was brand new or innovative” compared with what some competing smartphones offer.
The changes will “keep their installed base interested,” he said, pointing to a “sense that some users are getting bored,” though that “doesn’t mean Apple was in trouble.”
The changes might be a preview of more extensive iOS changes to come in a year or so, Stofega added. “There’s a sense that grids [of icons] are great” but that people are looking for “more tiled experiences” in which the user interface doesn’t require people to go in and out of apps placed on a grid but keeps apps open so users can flow from one app into another.
Tom Mainelli, IDC’s tablets research director, contended that “iOS 7 puts Apple in a stronger position than before.” During its World Wide Developers Conference (WWDC), “Apple went to great pains to show how fragmented Android is, and that is a real problem, especially for app developers. The vast majority of Apple owners download [the latest] version of iOS, and if they like it, that can drive people to recommend the phone and others to refresh their phones.”
In their WWDC presentations, Apple executives demonstrated a cleaner user interface that CEO Tim Cook called “stunning.” The OS also adds multipanel multitasking, which lets users view multiple active apps displayed as cards that can be swiped left and right. All apps can now use multitasking, the company added.
Core iOS functions such as messaging, calendar, phone and Game Center also get a cleaner look that uses a white background.
A Control Center UI appears on screen when the user swipes up from the bottom of the screen while in any app and from the lock screen to display such controls for media controls, volume, brightness, airplane mode, AirPlay, flashlight and camera.
See www.twice.com for more details.
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