Last month, Google talked about Android 13 at I/O. We already knew quite a bit about the operating system, since the first developer preview came out in February. But it was at I/O that we started to get some of the new features that were saved for Android 13. And it was pretty underwhelming.
That’s okay, we can’t have a huge update to Android every single year. And something I’ve noticed in recent years is that when Android has a big update, iOS has a small one. And when iOS has a big update, Android has a small update. For example, in 2020, iOS 14 was a pretty big update, but Android 11 was not. Then in 2021, Android 12 was a big update, but iOS 15 was mostly tweaks to the big update from the year before.
Now, in 2022, both OS’ are getting pretty small updates. This week, Apple held its developer conference, called WWDC. Where it releases new versions of all of its operating systems. Including iOS 16, and to be honest, it was pretty meh. There are quite a few features coming in iOS 16, but really only one big feature – lockscreen customization. Which even then, it’s not a huge deal.
This shows that both operating systems are pretty mature at this point, and really need some competition. Or we’re going to see more years of boring updates, and not just with Android 13 and iOS 16.
Google and Apple have owned the mobile space for over a decade
It was around 2011-2012 when Google and Apple really took over the mobile space, pushing out companies like BlackBerry and Nokia’s Symbian from working on mobile phones. Amazon tried to be a competitor somewhat, but the Fire Phone was a big disaster for them. So there’s been a duopoly of smartphone operating systems for over a decade.
Android has something like 80%-90% of the market share around the world, while Apple has a pretty small share, even though they do sell 100 million or more every time they launch a new iPhone (not counting the iPhone SE). Which is impressive for a single phone. But that makes it hard for anyone else to come into the space. Even Samsung failed with Tizen.
And without any competition, it becomes hard to really innovate, as companies tend to get set in their ways. I’ve said it before, but that’s what happened with HTC and BlackBerry. Not because there was no competition, but because they were set in their ways and felt they had the best product. When it was quite clear, based on sales of their phones, that they were not the best product.
Users are locked into one or the other
Customers are locked into either Google’s ecosystem or Apple’s ecosystem. It becomes very hard to switch from iPhone to Pixel, or Galaxy to iPhone. And that’s by design. Each platform has their own ecosystem, and a walled garden so to speak. Samsung and Apple do this better than Google. But this is why the Android market share hasn’t changed much, and Android OEMs are mostly taking customers from other Android brands.
So no matter how big the updates are for either Android or iOS, it’s not going to get someone to jump ship because there’s some cool new features in the next version of Android.
So why are both operating systems bringing small updates this year?
As mentioned before, both operating systems are pretty mature. While there’s always features that could be added to either one, many users don’t like a lot of changes. So these features need to be done slowly. Instead of doing a complete overhaul every couple of years. Google and Apple know it’s better to offer a couple big features every year, with a bunch of tweaks added in.
As I outlined earlier on, Android 12 and iOS 14 were pretty big updates for each platform. So now, each company is working on tweaking those updates, before moving onto another bigger update. Of course, Apple is into its second year of tweaks following iOS 14. Which brought in widgets, an app drawer and more.
For Apple especially, they will be doing smaller updates more than bigger updates. That’s because their users are generally less tech nerdy, and don’t really want their phone to completely change overnight. That will cause a lot of issues for them, and that’s not what Apple wants. It’s likely why we haven’t really seen an overhaul since iOS 7, almost a decade ago. Which is honestly, pretty impressive.
However, for someone like me that uses both platforms and covers Android, it’s kinda boring. I know not everyone will agree, but that’s just how I feel here. Android 13 and iOS 16 are boring.