The world was all aflutter yesterday as Apple’s servers were jammed with eager iPhone users downloading Apple’s latest and greatest operating system. As an unhappy Android user, I was not part of the rush to download. However, that doesn’t mean I wasn’t involved in the download frenzy. But I am questioning what all of the buzz was about.
The rush to download first became apparent to me when I picked up my oldest son, who is a freshman in high school. He and his friend Brett came into my car and immediately asked if I had downloaded the new Apple update. I reminded them that I am not an Apple user. Brett then told me that he could not wait to get home and update his iPhone to iOS 7. When I asked Brett why he was in such a rush to update, he said it was because the new version was supposed to be the best ever.
About an hour later, I picked up my younger son from middle school. When he got the car he said, "Dad I can't wait to go home and update my phone." I asked why he was he in a rush to update the phone. He responded that the new update was the biggest update of all time and would make his phone better than ever. I asked my son what exactly made this update so great, but he didn't have an answer for me.
That evening, when my wife returned home, she told me that she felt so old because all of the kids, including our own, we're talking about a new iPhone update, and she didn't even know an update was coming out. But now that she knew, she asked if I would help her update her iPhone. I asked my wife the same question I asked the children. The only thing she could tell me was that everyone was updating their phone and she felt out of touch by not knowing this.
So now I have heard from my entire family, as well as their friends, about how cool the new iPhone update was, but not one person could tell me why it was so cool. I went on Facebook and started reading all of the posts about how long it took people to download the update. Everyone who had completed it seemed so happy that they were able to download the newest version of iOS. But not one person enunciated a clear reason why the update made their phone any better. Some people said it looked cool, others said it did not, but no one could point to one thing that the new OS did to make the iPhone better.
Finally, this morning my friend and Mac fan boy from down under, Andrew Grealy, gave me the only reason I have heard that the new update did to make the phone better. Andrew was thrilled that he could now turned his flashlight on without having to dig through all of his apps. He could turn his flashlight on right from the control center. Wow, now I understood what all the excitement was about!
Could it really be that all of this buzz was about nothing more than making it easy to turn on a flashlight? No, it wasn't about the flashlight; it was about the Apple machine. Say what you want about the new update, Apple has not lost the huckster marketing genius of Steve Jobs, even if he is not there anymore. They had done a superb job of whipping their customer base into a Pavlovian frenzy. What was actually in the update really was not important. Their users would have eaten any dog food they were served. Kudos to Apple.
I had a chance to examine the new operating system on my wife and sons' phones. While it looks different than the old one, I myself cannot find anything that is as groundbreaking as Siri or some of the other innovations Apple has had in the past. From a purely artistic point of view, I wonder if Steve Jobs, who was so particular over the choice of even fonts, would be a fan of this new style in iOS7. Apple under Jobs was known for simple elegance, understated style and beauty. This new version seems louder, brighter and strays from the simple-is-beautiful Apple style.
The bigger question for me was whether iOS7 really all about style. In updating its flagship device, could Apple not come up with some groundbreaking feature that would justify the hype? To my eyes, at least, it seems that iOS 7 is not a must-have update at all.