Yesterday, several posts started floating around about how iOS 7 has lead to a year of third-party development on superficial changes. Some of the points have been valid, but not all of them.
I thought about the best way to word my feelings on this when Marco Arment beat me to it:
Jared Sinclair’s iOS 7 Squandered a Year of Third-Party Development on Superficial Changes is interesting and worth reading, but I disagree with the premise:
It’s been almost a year since version 7.0 was announced, yet as a developer I feel like a year’s worth of work has brought about only superficial changes to the apps I work on and the apps I use.
All the big problems facing iOS in the summer of 2013 are still with us. Some have gotten even worse.
There are plenty of problems with the iOS app ecosystem, but most of them that Apple could reasonably control — and most of Jared’s specific complaints — are App Store-related, not OS-related.
The App Store team has a lot of work to do, and improving it must be a very low priority for Apple since it moves so minimally and glacially. It’s clear by their actions that Apple believes the App Store is mostly fine the way it is, which is sad, embarrassing, incorrect, and a huge strategic mistake.
That’s just the big stuff. 7 also added tons of smaller improvements to the API and tools that I benefit from almost every day that I spend coding for iOS. The idea that most of iOS 7’s benefits to developers were visual is completely, inarguably, not-even-close wrong.
And I’d say the visual stuff was pretty great, too — and very necessary, given how spoiled and petulant Apple’s fans and the media were last spring about a lack of “innovation” in iOS. Remember?
Moving onto Jared’s second point:
The visual overhaul obligated third-party devs to follow suit. It reset all of their product pipelines, setting them back months or years. Developers, being the hard-working and clever folks that they are, made the best of the crisis. Lots of fresh ideas were shipped since last fall. But the bulk of the apps released over the last year are only superficially different from the apps they replaced.
Jared and I must be using different apps, because I’ve seen an incredible year with massive progress.
You can read the rest of his post as well, but I felt it hit it spot on.