It’s been almost two years since Apple took over the Maps app. It’s been a bumpy road and at times, the wrong road. If operating systems had resumes, iOS wouldn’t include this among its bullet point list of achievements. Great companies make bad choices and thankfully, iOS users had plenty of choices when it came to third party map applications, as pointed out by Apple’s CEO Tim Cook. The iPhone has always come with a select group of stock apps and the app creep could continue with iOS 8. Instead of a pure UI makeover with iOS 7, some of stock apps were ‘improved’ and that didn’t sit well with some folks. At times, even the most well intentioned developers can go off in a terribly wrong direction. People have always been able to use alternative apps, but Apple should go one step further, letting you change the default apps in iOS 8.
Make Siri Better
Little known fact, Siri uses Bing. Now while I’m not particularly fond of Google these days, they are typically more adept at providing the best results. Now while you can change the default search engine in mobile Safari, there is no option to change the default search for Siri. For an assistant who is often searching the web for your answers, why not offer Google and Yahoo as options? If you want Siri to search Google instead of Bing, you have to ask specifically. There should be a setting for the default search engine used by Siri.
Nobody Does It Better
Apple’s apps are not always the best available option. It’s time they accept that while they often do a very good job, what might be great for some, isn’t great for all. While I can use a third party map application, and I do often with Google Maps, Apple’s own apps have a decided advantage thanks to the deep hooks with iOS. For example, let’s say you use Yelp to find a good high-end restaurant. Yelp makes it easy to find it in Maps, Apple’s Maps. Using a third party app is entirely too disruptive to that process. I’d have to open Maps, tap on the restaurant name, copy the address, open Google Maps and paste the address. No one in their right mind is going to jump through those hoops, despite have a preference for a specific app. When it comes to default apps in iOS 8, it should be the user who makes choices and these should extend throughout iOS wherever and whenever these deep-rooted hooks are in place.
Where Developers Benefit, Users Benefit
As it stands now, the easy choice is to use Apple’s stock apps. If iOS 8 put users in control, it would benefit developers who are creating apps that compete with the defaults. I’d put forth if customers could make the changes I’m suggesting, you would see more people shifting away from the stock apps. It would be a seismic shift and still likely remain in single digit percentages. Still, it would put more money in the pockets of hard working developers. More sales, more development, better apps. Apple can certainly measure those data points and it could prove useful as to where they should be allocating their resources. See a huge uptick in users changing the default calendar app? Put more developers on that team and make a better app.
With each successive deep dive into alterative apps, I leave incredibly impressed with what’s being done by developers to go above and beyond the stock app experience. There are some wonderful alternatives to email, calendar, browser, weather and other apps that ship with each new iPhone. By allowing users to change the default apps in iOS 8, it would benefit users, developers and even Apple.
What default apps would you change? Let me know in our new snazzy Disqus comments section below.