Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Apple's Focus On The Experience - A Very Delicate Balancing Act

Just works is the mantra many attributes to Apple and its products and services.  For the most part, it is a very true statement.  But because of the nature of its successes, when something does not just work as advertised, it gets amplified in the media -  traditional and social.

First, it is important to state that with more than 1 billion devices in the wild still being used and who knows how many Macs there are, it's quite obvious that people are using Apple's products and services including, yes, iCloud and other cloud related services. 

Now, it does not mean that Apple's implementation works as well as, say, when Apple introduced the world to the iPod and iTunes. Back then, yeah, it just works.  It was air tight as far as what Apple wanted the iPod and iTunes to do for the user. 

Today, with more services, it is a much harder task to accomplish.  Many still do not care for Apple's native mail app for instance.  While vastly improved, other apps have done a better job.  It's why there are other calendar apps, to-do and reminder apps, and even music and podcast apps.  Personally, I think the podcast app from Apple needs a lot of work still. 

Oh, and let's not forget the dozens if not hundreds of variants of the weather app to choose from.  There are even Siri alternatives.

One might say this is proof that Apple has taken its eyes off the ball.  Another might say that Apple provided just the basics (quick access to information versus other apps that have better and maybe prettier presentation of the same information)  and allow the users to go to the App Store to download the apps of their choices that best meets their needs.

Pre-iCloud was a mess.  You had issues with Contacts missing or you're filled with duplicates.  Or updates either are slow to propagate through out the network and devices or it does not happen at all.  That's mostly gone now.  Fixed. 

One of the most complained apps seems to be the Music app.  A couple Apple pundits (without naming names) have been quite vocal about it to the point of grand display of arrogance feeding off what little influence they have.  However, how do you then explain the 11 million paying customers to Apple's new streaming service?

It's a very delicate balancing act that today's Apple has to perform that the pre-iPhone Apple did not have to worry about. Apple is still in the beginning of the whole cloud and app services.  It is growing new apps and features while trying to maintain an experience equilibrium for new and experienced users as well.  One glaring example of this is the suite of office apps like Pages and Numbers.  Apple can add hundreds of new features at a time like Microsoft does but that could erode the experience of how the apps work and at the same time overwhelm new users who simply want to write or put together a small presentation. 

In my experience, Apple's apps and services still "just works" but with an asterisk.  Apple admitted recently there is a lot of room for improvement and they have made efforts internally to address that.  On the whole, there is a lot of hope things are going to get even better.

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