It’s time for Apple to treat us like adults. The company revolutionized the smartphone with iOS, no doubt. But as iOS gets older, its users are, too, and fewer and fewer of them are first-time smartphone owners. It made sense to hold everybody’s hands when this whole idea of a computer in your pocket was new. But just as Apple will probably move from skeuomorphic design to a more abstract flat design in iOS 7, it should also trust its users a bit more and give them more control over how they want to use the operating system.
Sure, Apple will never allow something like Facebook Home on its phones (that’s an abomination anyway), but isn’t it time for Apple to allow users to switch at least some defaults away from Apple’s own apps and to allow third-party services to come in and take over?
The prime example here is obviously Safari. Google’s Chrome, Opera and others make pretty competitive mobile browsers now and many of them are superior to Safari in a number of ways. With its proxy services, for example, both Google and Opera can save users bandwidth costs (in Chrome, that’s just available in the Android beta, right now). I wouldn’t be surprised if Apple soon also offered this feature, but why not let the user choose a default browser. Google already redirects iOS users to Chrome from its own apps like Gmail for iOS when possible, but most apps don’t do this, so there is really no point in switching browsers.
The same thing goes for Apple Maps, too. It’s the prime example of a default iOS app that’s inferior to its competitors, but it’s still the app that Yelp and every other popular app will always open. It’s a bit easier to switch to long-term, because you’ll probably want to use it as a standalone app, too, but it’s still an unnecessary hassle.
Outside of apps, it would also be nice if Apple finally allowed third-party keyboards. Let’s face it – the standard iOS keyboard is getting a bit old. Sure, sooner or later, Apple will likely copy Swype (just like Google did) and offer a swipe-driven keyboard, too, but there is something to be said for choice.
I can hear the murmuring: Why don’t you just switch to Android? The truth is, I probably will. For a long time, the trade-off was great user experience (iOS) vs. a more open system (Google). Now that Google’s user experience is virtually on par with Apple’s and its services are so much better, Apple’s choice is now to keep the system on lockdown and try to own the experience or to open up at least a little bit and give us users at least a little bit more choice.