There is an interesting phenomenon taking place at Apple these days. The company that once did absolutely positively everything in secret, has become more open and public, and has shown a willingness to change course. Here are a couple of examples.
First, Apple Watch. Those of us who have Watch love Watch, but there are some annoying navigation problems and performance issues in Watch 2.0. Apps are slow to load. The honeycomb app launcher is a disaster (what do all those icons mean?). Navigation is painfully unintuitive.
What did Apple do when faced with users who remained confused or complained about Watch?
Apple listened and responded. Watch 3.0, due out later this year, is a big jump in performance and navigation. Easier, faster, more intuitive (it has a Dock, folks). Apple made a major course correction to adjust to user feedback.
That is so not like Apple.
Second, iPhone’s iOS 10, also due later this year. Currently, iPhones with Touch ID enable a user to move quickly through Notification Center and into the app launcher. Just touch the Home button and Touch ID works so well that it bypasses what is becoming a very useful feature– notifications.
In iOS 10 the Notification Center gets a big promotion in status, thanks to 3D Touch and the option to press buttons to get more access. With the right blend of notifications and alerts, there is less need to jump into the app launcher. Except that getting to the app launcher is a two-step process in iOS 10 instead of the one-step process in iOS 9.
What did Apple do when faced with early adopters and beta users who complained?
Apple listened and responded. The latest version of iOS 10 has a user setting which backs up the Home button and Touch ID to perform the way they do now in iOS 9. Not every iPhone user wants to live on Notification Center.
Third, Apple has opened up access to beta versions of macOS Sierra, iOS 10, even watchOS to average everyday Apple folk, and not just the developer community. Why? Managed appropriately, the larger base of beta users gives Apple more data about what’s working and what’s not working. Beta versions of Apple’s operating systems are communicating with Apple’s engineers to deliver not just crash reports, but usability details.
Apple is listening in ways the company did not in the past; back in the Steve Jobs era where the company’s new products and development cycles were hermetically sealed in a secret contained within One Infinite Loop.
One thing to understand about Apple’s new life on the bleeding edge is that software is forever beta. In many ways, that’s the nature of software anyway; always changing and adjusting, but Apple has made it a more open, user involved process.