Apple is right to ditch marquee features for stability and fixes

iOS 9 Lock screen mockup 001

We reported a couple of days ago that Apple was set to launch iOS 9 with few, if any marquee features, instead focusing on fixing bugs and adding stability to a platform that has seen such rapid iteration over the last few years that it is almost unrecognizable from iOS 1.0. It seems, if reports are to be believed, that Apple is doubling down on stability.

And about time too.

Over the last few weeks and months, and essentially since iOS 8 was released, there has been something of a groundswell of opinion that Apple has been pushing iOS too far, too quickly. Adding exciting new features and hundreds of smaller ones to each big release of iOS year on year has taken its toll on the iPhone and iPad, leaving both with problems at the most basic of levels. Where Apple used to have the label of ‘it just works,’ that has never been further from the truth than it is today. It’s not just iOS either – Mac OS X 10.10 Yosemite and its predecessor Mavericks both received their fair share of bad press for strange bugs. With iOS 7 and iOS 8, those problems cropped up on Apple’s mobile platform, too.

So someone inside Apple clearly decided that enough is enough, and if iOS 9 is indeed set to be the release that sees the company slow down on the huge updates, then it hasn’t come a moment too soon. After all, Apple must now be starting to run out of things to add to a smartphone and tablet like those running iOS.

Popping back to that ‘it just works’ mantra for a moment, it’s clear for all to see that Apple hasn’t been able to throw such comments around too often of late. While it’s one thing for every tech site you read to denounce Apple’s software quality assurance systems and claim that Apple is just shy of being doomed, the company’s real problem is the man and woman on the street. The people who don’t read sites like ours and still ask us when a new iPhone is coming out even though it’s been the same time every year for, well, years.

These customers are the ones that have propelled Apple into the position it finds itself in today. Apple fans and geeks aren’t enough to sustain the company because it proved that in the 1990s. What it needs is the ‘normals,’ and the iPod was their gateway drug. Then it was the iPhone.

The old ‘it just works’ saying was actually true back then, and that’s why people came for an iPhone and left with a Mac. It’s what took Apple and made it the biggest company around with more money than it knows what to do with. It’s these people that matter, and when even they start to point out that perhaps iOS isn’t quite where it should be, Apple needs to take note. They don’t care how many new APIs have been added, or what they will do for developers. They want a Mail app that does what it’s supposed to and an operating system that doesn’t keep restarting their phone for no good reason. They want a computer in their pocket, but they don’t want to have to think of it like one.

They want an iPhone, an iPad and an iOS that just works.

So that’s what is happening with iOS 9. Or at least so we’re led to believe. A return to the aim of making the best hardware with the most reliable, bug-free and easy to use software around.

Apple already has the best hardware and until very recently, the best mobile software too. Now it’s time to reseat that particular crown, before it slips too much further.