If there is one thing apparent about Apple in the Tim Cook era it’s this. Apple has ears. The company is listening closely to customers, developers, and the public. Apple executives have shown up in more interviews in the past year than probably at any time in 20 years. The changes coming to iOS 9 and OS X 10.11 El Capitan appear as if Apple made a big checklist of customer and developer issues and began checking them off, one by one.
Here’s an example. iOS 8 required nearly 5GB of free storage space to upgrade. iOS 9 requires a mere 1.3GB. It gets better. If you still don’t have enough free space for an upgrade, iOS 9’s installer will make space by deleting some apps (which can be reinstalled later).
What else? iOS 9 will get longer battery life. Apple execs announced at least an hour a day, but the company has been going all out on ‘under promise and over deliver’ so many users may get more. I get almost two hours more simply by having an Apple Watch which helps to keep the iPhone in pocket or bag.
Serious iPad users have chimed in on the need for a split screen, especially on the iPad Air. Apple listened. That’s what iPad Air users get in iOS 9. And speaking of iOS 9, Apple plans to expand the beta test crew to the general public. That means millions more beta testers thanks to an expanded early adopter program.
On the Mac side Apple again tossed a grenade into Google’s parade by giving Spotlight more power, yet easier to use. Spotlight does searches and many of those results will bypass Google entirely.
Notes is one of those below-the-radar apps that most Mac users use from time to time and the new version looks and works more like a mini-word processor. Safari in El Capitan gets website pins which is like a mini-bookmark with a visual cue. I don’t see the advantage but I have hundreds of bookmarks and most Mac users probably do not.
Tops on everyone’s list was the growing noise about speed and stability. It’s been awhile since we had an iOS or OS X upgrade that ‘just worked‘ and, again, Apple seems to be listening. For speed, Apple added support for Metal which should improve performance on older Macs. For stability and reliability we’ll need to see how the public beta program helps to knock items off the bug list.
CEO Tim Cook has taken a more visible public stance than his predecessor, and Apple as a whole seems to have become more relaxed and engaging; more Craig Federighi-like than Scott Forstall-like. That’s good because Federighi has a reputation for listening and Forstall, molded more in the image of Steve Jobs, did not.
Now, is Apple listening to anyone about iTunes?