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“The iPhone is outdated.”

At least that’s according to Thorsten Heins, CEO of BlackBerry.

So the question now is, is he right? Bearing in mind, of course, that Thorsten has in his agenda the pushing of BlackBerry as leaps ahead of the iPhone.

Well, that got us editors talking one day, about whether or not the iPhone does need to be updated (in between friendly joshings of “Android bulok!” and “iPhone bulok!”).

First off, this is about the operating system and not the phone itself. As far as we’re concerned, the hardware is very much an impressive piece of work, and every new iPhone is able to roll with the times. Apple is excellent in the hardware part of the equation.

No, this is about the software. And the fact is that the iOS user interface has barely changed since it first came out in 2007. On the plus side, that speaks volumes about the longevity of its original design. On the minus side, to remain contented with it is kind of like saying let’s keep the Model T Ford as it is because there’s nothing wrong with the way it looks.

If Apple wants to re-energize its camp, it is indeed time for the iOS to have a makeover. So in that respect, yeah, we do agree with our pal Thorsten.

Here’s what we think has to be done if Apple wants to make iOS timely once again:

  • Make it easier for data to flow across apps. Apple went for heavy firewalling of its apps, preventing the sharing of info from one to another. That was well and good in the old days, and it made iOS such a secure system. Unfortunately, it’s a bit passe. Today, people love sharing, and Android makes it easy: from practically any app, you can share photos or files or attachments with practically any other app that would accept it. It’s so easy to grab a picture and toss it over to a social media app or messenger for instance. With iOS as it is, sadly, you have to suffer in perplexity while trying to figure out something as simple as sharing a photo via a new social media app that you’ve just downloaded.
  • Totally redesign the notifications interface. The iOS notifications bar is passable… until you’ve experienced the alternatives in other smartphones. And then you realize how crude the iOS bar is by comparison. Every iOS update tries to add some new trick to the notifications bar, but it’s still light years behind what other operating systems now offer.
  • Give us widgets! Frankly, the square icons with rounded edges that fill your screen is showing its age. Compare that with the dynamic look and activities that greet you with a Windows Phone interface, or with Android widgets. Apple may resist going the widget route (it ruins the very standardized format), but honestly if it doesn’t do anything then Apple will always be at a disadvantage versus other phones.

So is the iPhone outdated? The phone, no. The operating system, well, yes. We’d love to have a refresh of iOS, and on a radical scale at that. The problem is that we worry that Apple may not be willing to do so because it would ruin the obsessive-compulsive order that iOS has had from the start.

If so, brace yourselves. Because with no radical refresh in the horizon, Samsung may have a point when it mocks the iPhone as “your parents’ phone.”



Art is a long-time editor for a number of technology publications. He is a Palanca-winning writer (he got lucky) whose day job is to try to be as serious as possible while being a management consultant and lecturer. His favorite noodles: chapchae.

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