Google IO 2022 confirmed that Android 13 was on its way to smartphones, and soon tablets, with a focus on refinements this time, rather than major features.
There was plenty to digest – from the surprise announcement of the Pixel 7 and 7 Pro to a hint toward AR Glasses. It’s understandable that this year would be more mutated for Android.
Especially with Android 12 bringing a major redesign of the look and feel to the operating system in 2021, called Material You. But it makes us wonder what Apple has for its sleeve for iOS 16, rumored to debut at WWDC on June 5.
Refinements versus features
Apple has done the same in the past with iOS 9 and iOS 12. Both major releases were focused more on optimizing features and fixing bugs across the operating system.
In 2009, Mac OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard was released with its advertising slogan being ‘No new features’. Bold, but correct in hindsight.
But the battle for helping a customer decide as to which smartphone they’re going to buy has only gotten fiercer. It’s not just hardware improvements that matter, but substantial features or improvements to existing ones that can help the day-to-day workflows of many.
I’m of the opinion that iOS is almost reaching a point where any new features may bring confusion to casual users who only want to use the camera and some apps, while iPadOS would benefit from a total redesign, due to it still looking like an oversized iPhone in some parts.
iOS 16 could bring simplicity to some existing features. Having a better Control Center, found when you drag from the top right of the screen, could benefit from more customization. Having automation commands from the Shortcuts app, or third-party apps taking advantage of this, could help cut down the apps we try to reach each day.
Being able to change the flashlight icon on the lock screen would also be a help, as it’s a button that could better be used for a favorite contact, or launching Apple Music.
The little touches across iOS 16 could make a big difference, and could help widen the gap further for anyone on the market for upgrading their phone, or being tempted to change from Android or iOS.
Regardless, Apple has a unique opportunity this year at WWDC to cater to the casual and power users at the same time with iOS, while possibly hinting towards its own efforts with AR.
With Google IO 2022 concluding, WWDC looks to be another battlefield that could make some direct hits on Android 13 already.