iOS 9 is imminent. The next update to Apple’s iPhone and iPad operating system is due to break cover at the company’s Worldwide Developer Conference (WWDC), which starts on June 8th in San Francisco. And already there a few inklings about what we can expect.
There’s the much–needed Maps update that adds public transport directions.
There are also rumours about a Home app that lets user control home appliances fitted using Apple’s HomeKit code.
And we've heard talk of a slight design refresh with a new font, too.
If all that sounds a bit, well, flat, it’s because it is. iOS updates are rarely things of great excitement.
iOS 7, which saw Jony Ive completely overhaul a tired and dated platform, was a rare exception.
Now Apple has an OS that looks the part, it can only really tinker around the edges.
Of course, an improved Maps app is essential. Apple’s efforts in this regard have been seriously lacking so any proper changes are welcome.
But with Home, it’s likely Apple has another Health app on its hands: a clever, but ultimately niche tool that only hardcore tech types are likely to care about.
HomeKit remains a mystery, with compatible products still in limbo and not due for release until later this summer. And let’s face it, only real nerds are going to care about a font change.
That’s not to say this is Apple’s fault. iOS has reached a point where it ultimately acts as a facilitator for third-party apps which Apple itself approves.
It’s the creations of developers that drive the ecosystem rather than Apple itself. That’s as it should be, but makes it far harder for Apple to generate excitement.
Software updates never garner as much attention or hype as product launches.
They aren’t tangible in the same way and will only really ever appeal to enthusiasts.
There may be scope for some interesting changes around how the iPhone and Apple Watch interact, with improved apps for the latter.
But again, this isn’t going to bolster sales in the same way as a redesigned handset will.
In the days and hours after WWDC we’re likely to see a lot of handwringing about Apple’s failure to excite with iOS 9.
But there’s not much it can do. It’s always operated a safety first approach with iOS. And short of another major overhaul, it won’t be a big deal.
Instead, focus is likely to turn to any clues in its code about the iPhone 6S and iPhone 6S Plus. That's something tech fanatics can get het up about much more easily.