Apple's iOS 7: Plenty to spur an upgrade cycle

Apple's iOS 7: Plenty to spur an upgrade cycle

Summary: Apple may not have new mobile hardware in the works for a few months, but rest assured that iOS 7 has enough to drive upgrades for its installed base with the oldest phones.

TOPICS: Mobility, Apple, iOS, iPhone

Apple's launch of iOS 7 for its iPhone and iPad has a new look that is much cleaner and gives a long-overdue facelift to its mobile operating system. Is it enough to drive another iPhone upgrade cycle? Probably.

Some features such as Air Drop, a peer-to-peer file sharing network, will work on the latest iPad, iPad mini and iPhone 5. Overall, iOS 7 will work on the iPhone 4 and later. The catch is that some key features may work best with the latest hardware. Apple's line is to update its iPhone ecosystem yet spur upgrades to some degree.  

Apple's statement on iOS 7 has a key footnote:

iOS 7 will be available as a free software update for iPhone 4 and later, iPad 2 and later, iPad mini and iPod touch (fifth generation) this fall. Some features may not be available on all products.

In other words, iOS 7 makes its predecessor look tired fairly quickly and if there's a feature a person lacks he may feel obsolete. Apple's approach is to give you a sudden nudge to upgrade hardware. 

Here are some of the features that won't work with older phones like iPhone 4. 

  1. Panorama format is available on iPhone 4S, iPhone 5, and iPod touch (5th generation). Square and video formats and swipe to capture are available on iPhone 4 or later, iPad (3rd generation or later), iPad mini, and iPod touch (5th generation).
  2. Filters in Camera are available on iPhone 5 and iPod touch (5th generation). Filters in Photos are available on iPhone 4 or later, iPad (3rd generation or later), iPad mini, and iPod touch (5th generation).
  3. AirDrop is available on iPhone 5, iPad (4th generation), iPad mini, and iPod touch (5th generation) and requires an iCloud account.
  4. Siri is available on iPhone 4S, iPhone 5, iPad with Retina display, iPad mini, and iPod touch (5th generation) and requires Internet access. Siri may not be available in all languages or in all areas, and features may vary by area. Cellular data charges may apply. New female and male voices will be available initially in U.S. English, French, and German.


Now Apple's iOS update includes a few moving parts. For starters, Apple appears to have cut Google out of Siri to some degree. iTunes Radio will likely do well. Safari is updated and most apps look brand new and refreshed.

The bottom line for Apple's WWDC keynote is that it did what it had to do: Set the stage for new devices in the fall.

To see what iOS 7 can do note the unit retirement rate for Apple's iOS units via Barclays analyst Ben Reitzes:



In other words, Apple has a huge installed base. All Apple's first iOS refresh in 6 years needs to do is to drive upgrades of older devices---notably those free ones with two year contracts. Toss in the carrot of updated iPhones and iPads in the fall and Apple probably has accomplished its mission. 

Topics: Mobility, Apple, iOS, iPhone

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  • iPad upgrades?

    You're joking, right? Even at $199, the current iPhone is priced out of range for a huge percentage of the population. The iPad (more than double the cost of a contract iPhone) market share has been shrinking due to lower cost options. If you really think an iOS upgrade, that will be available to many current users, will spur huge numbers of people to upgrade their iPad to the 5... well, I wouldn't want to play poker with you if you can keep that straight of a face.
    • Priced out of range?

      They can't afford $199 but can fork $50 or more a month for 3 years? Doesn't say a lot about that huge percentage of the population.
      • Actually, it is

        If you look at the numbers on how much people have paid for tablets, $499 is now too high. For a 7" tablet, $329 is also too high. I am basing this off of the shrinking iPad market share in the tablet space- not how much the average person can afford. Some people can afford $50 for a movie ticket- that doesn't mean that are willing to pay for it when there are $10 or less options available.

        You are also forgetting the fact that tablets are still owned by a minority of the population and close to half use iPads. So now you're looking at 1/4 of one (US) market. The question is, does that 1/4 really care enough about iOS 7 to upgrade. Sure, there are die hard Apple fans that will upgrade every time something new is released. There are waaaaaaaaaaaay more people with iPhones that really only get an upgrade because that comes along with their contract and might very well end up with a different phone if they get a salesperson that hates Apple/iPhone. Does the typical 60+ year old person really need the latest and greatest iPhone, iPad, Android this or that, Microsoft this or that, Blackberry this or that? No. Is there any incentive for buying a tablet at full price to upgrade every year or two? No. Is there with a subsidized device on a two year contract? Yes. You pay more in the long run for paying less upfront.

        You are ignoring the fact that the huge boom in mobile tech was the rush to start competing with desktop-caliber performance. Well, we are no longer talking about single or even dual core processors. On the contrary, we are talking about multicore (4-8) processors with enough RAM to be compared with a very low-end computer (when comparing prices of devices, this would be a fair comparison). So let me ask you- what recently happened when people had zero reason to upgrade their computer? They don't need any of the new features offered in Windows 8 (some might even argue Windows 7) and your last three version of OS X are relatively close together in terms of Apple share, too. Are people simply replacing devices or upgrading? I think most people can recognize that the masses are simply replacing.

        Similar to the personal computer, tablets are going to be facing a similar face. When you combine the fact that there is still no rush to upgrade with nothing really new for the average user with the price tag...

        Also, you really need to pay more attention. $199 is with a contract. There is currently no contract in the US that has an iPhone for $199 with $50/month for service. If you want a $199 new iPhone, you pay nearly $100/month. Even TMobile will set you back $70. The most expensive part of a contract-based smartphone is the service. Given 1/3 of the population is on prepaid, you are now talking about several hundred for the actual phone. Not a huge surprise Apple has a significantly smaller market share on prepaid networks relative to contracts.
        • Re: we are talking about multicore (4-8) processors with enough RAM

          Yet, it is still a mobile phone. Or a pocket computer, or what you name it.

          The question is, does it do the job promised, not how many cores or how much RAM does it have.
          That kind of measurements are relevant only to the techno-masturbators that inhabit tech blogs.
          • "relevant only to the techno-masturbators that inhabit tech blogs."

            Did you just call yourself a techno-masturbator? :P
      • Please tell me you really are kidding?

        Sorry to tell you freind, many people who have smartphones, MANY, live paycheck to paycheck.

        Owning a smartphone is now a long long way from the "olden days" of "must be gainfully employed to have one". Now a days teens who will not have a job beyond a few hours a week at McDonalds, for several years yet, have a smartphone.

        Some of you IT guys really really dont understand the real world at all. Its like you think that most of the world thinks and acts pretty much like the 2% of the world that most IT people regularly circulate in.

        So ya, and YA big time, people will indeed many many times look for the zero dollar down deal for the three year plan at $29.95 per month. Lots of folk. And I guess it does say a lot about a large part of the population. And all that it says is that there are plenty out there who still find that $200 up front for a smartphone is too much money for them right now. Its life in the modern economy.
        • Yes and that is fine - well not for them it isn't

          Yes - should the iPhone be the cheapest possible device? OR the best device?

          A race to the bottom is nice but once you get there what then?
    • Sles continue to grow

      What all these people screaming "market share" from the rooftops are trying to divert you from is the ever increaasing sales numbers for Apple.

      Apple sells more and more of these devices every product cycle (except the iPod for obvious reason).

      The argument that people are switching to android or anything else just doesn't hold up to scrutiny.

      Seriously do you expect Apple or anyone else to have all the market share and never lose a sale ever?

      Then a new player comes in and takes some of the market cause some people will choose other products for whatever reason. Yeah some people drive different cars to yours - must be crazy right? Must mean your car is no good any more - right?!?!?!

      Sell your Audi or your Merc or your Ford or GM now - cause everyone's 'switched' to Toyota! Go on I dare you!

      Must be better car because market share proves it!
  • Based on a UI Refresh?

    Apple likes to talk smack about how many people use the latest iOS but lets see them drop the 4 and 4S and see what their OS breakdown looks like. Those two devices are likely 50% of their user base.

    Until the noted features not available on older devices is known I didn't see anything to make someone upgrade to the latest iPhone or iPhone 5. Some nice polish but many features have been on other platforms for years so it's the typical pandering to the Apple fans and they act like it's "new".
    • I'm someone

      Not only will I upgrade to iOS7 but look forward to upgrading to the iPhone 5s (or whatever). Apple never claimed their features are new to the planet Earth, but to the iPhone experience. Time to grow up and get over "my tech selection had that feature first" thing. Apple often doesn't come up with features first. They take whats known and back it so its well thought out. Take multitasking... They did a great job plus maintained battery life. My phone will never be a web server, therefore multitasked is encapsulated in a control manner.

      I don't know. I get tired of all the would be critics. And we know how often they are right. I try not to be one.
      • Change of mind?

        I don't think anyone would mind Apple repurposing features from other phones if Apple didn't scream and holler and run crying to the courts every time it happens to them. Just because Apple have decided to play alone, rather than partnering with other hardware/software manufacturers, doesn't give them any special rights.
        • Patent wars are ugly

          But Apple is far from the only offender; they are just more shrill about it because well, Steve Jobs was pretty shrill. In fact Tim Cook is showing signs of battle fatigue.

          Meantime let's all pray that congress seriously takes up the proposed legislation regarding frivolous patents. Hey a miracle could happen and they could pass a bill that's bigger than an anthill. . .
        • No don't be silly!

          Apple runs to the courts over things they should run to the courts over.

          If they get it wrong and run to the courts over things that aren't protectable then they loose.

          BTW Samsung and Motorola / Google do exactly the same so pot/kettle going on here.
    • Let's get real here.

      Eric Schmidt sits on Apple's board while the iPhone is a regular topic of discussion. He recuses himself only when Android is ready for market and guess what? On the surface its first iteration is so Apple-like it isn't funny. Surprise! Steve Jobs is a leetle ticked and Mr. Schmidt is off the board.

      Google engineers are brilliant of course so they innovate like heck under the hood and in time the user experience differentiates as well. Android is a brilliant product. Because Google astutely throws around the word "open" they get nerd interest day 1. This broadens into a juggernaut as devices in different sizes shapes, colors and price ranges become available.

      Between 'em, Apple and Android knock out Palm, temporarily cripple Windows, and bring Blackberry to its knees. Still there's innovation from everyone and the good ideas are out there in to be looked at.

      Apple does its annual self-exam. They see that their elegant little OS is a little long in the tooth. They take the pulse of where the market is, where it's going, including looking at nifty ideas from the competition-not just Android by the way. They add features, tweak look and feel.

      The features that they adopt aren't patentable anymore than the ideas that Android borrowed so freely from iOS several yers ago were patentable. This is in fact no different from evolving the mp3 player into the iPod. It's a core part of how Apple works.

      This is a problem why? There was no industrial espionage. Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.
  • Ugly

    Maybe its just me, but the larger mis-matched colored icons against a blurry un-themed background is just Ugly. If I had a iOS device I think I would pass on the so called "upgrade". The Android and Windows Phones are way more vibrant and have better features like NFC, and facial recognition. Apple lost its cool.
    Sean Foley
    • I agree ...

      ... especially considering that they had a year to work on this. What the heck did they do with the other 11 months? ;)

      Suddenly, Microsoft and others are out-innovating Apple!
      • Out-Innovating?

        Apple didn't a a SINGLE feature that doesn't already exist in Android and/or Windows Phone. AAPL is desperately playing catch-up. I would much rather have a Windows Phone, Android, or Blackberry. I also find the sub-4" (ok, 3.99") display too small to enjoy.

        iOS is just a boring icon app launcher interface that requires an app to do anything. Live tiles and widgets make for a much better interface.
        • Did you see Google I/O

          Google nicely announced the ability to direct you around a traffic snarl and gotr a round of applause. Pity Apple announced it and released it about a year before.

          In fact most of the Google I?O keynote announcements were iOS features.

          So grow up!
      • Bout fricken time!

        "Suddenly, Microsoft and others are out-innovating Apple!"

        Go 2nd & 3rd place!
        • apple losing innovation..

          Seriously have you guys tried seed 1 of iOS , have you gone through the developer videos like I have , you might sing a different tune.

          Apple is replacing heavy textures, and real-world metaphors for "gravity" and physics, its like the whole OS is based on the kind of physics engine you might find in a action game.

          With heavy textures and complex designs you probably couldn't do this with today's processors and get that kind of performance.

          Apple uses screen bounce in a transition as a way of demarcating depth and importance, on a view you can actually define how much you want the screen to bounce for instance.
          Every view can be Parallax , now I didn't understand the significance of that until I saw it , and looked at what the api's can do with it. Than I realized just how this adds depth and a planenar effect to any view, dimension actually becomes an attribute. This is very very cool. These dimensional effects add a whole new user experience.
          I am both an IOS and Android developer, and this is not a rip-off of Android, there similarities here in the way that a wheel from firestone is the same as a wheel from goodyear, thats it. As did down you find major differences and they work.

          Apple does something else android and Microsoft do not, all provides functions for accessing new features, and there are a lot of new api's in IOS 7 than the NDA does not allow me to discuss here, but the difference is apple provides frameworks that are abstracted wrappers around these potentially complicated api's, sure some of us would like Apple to allow low access to these functions, and we go crazy sometimes trying to find workarounds . But makes these frameworks accessible on a level that even the most junior of developer can work with, All api's in modern object languages have class hierarchies, but in designing its api's apple takes great effort to define the workflows of how one framework integrates with another.

          There is some really cool stuff in IOS 7 thats very very unique.

          As for criticism of icons, etc, this is like a pre-beta, I've seen beta's that barely function or have screens that look like a two year old designed them. but as you move through the beta cycle the design evolves.

          One think I've noticed about apple they pay attention to feedback.