Ever since its debut a decade ago, the iPhone has drastically evolved: it’s exponentially faster, the display and camera have improved in every conceivable metric (the original iPhone couldn’t even record video,) the form factor has been refined, and an array of new sensors have been added. While Apple’s industrial design continues to break new ground in manufacturing, its software, on the other hand, has plateaued over the years.
Smartphone, Dumb OS
Sure, there have been significant improvements in both functionality and aesthetics, but with the exception of the App Store (which Steve Jobs vehemently opposed) the difference in experience between iOS 1 and iOS 11 isn’t drastic:
It doesn’t matter if you’re using your iPhone at home or in a foreign country, at day or night time, which friends you message daily, what games you play on your lunch break or what smart-devices you have in your home- as soon as you unlock your phone, you’re dropped in the same static, multi-screen grid of app icons.
If that’s not bad enough, the burden of organizing and grouping apps is left to users, leaving them reliant on muscle memory to navigate their way around.
The idea that digital experiences should dynamically adjust to your needs isn’t new:
- Netflix suggests which movies you’d likely be interested in, shows that you should resume, new releases, genre categorization, etc
- Amazon suggests items you’ve recently searched, pairs items that are often bought together, items on sale, etc
- Spotify curates personalized playlists based on your taste
To Apple’s credit, they’ve started orienting themselves in that direction with Siri Suggestions for contacts and apps, and geolocation based suggestions for apps on the lock screen (not sure if it still exists in iOS11):