In iOS 14 Apple introduced Picture in Picture mode for the iPhone and the iPad. As usual Apple announced the feature at their WWDC in June—4 months prior to release. This window gives developers time to leverage all the new features of the OS in their apps.
Big names like Hulu and Disney took advantage of the new feature and had versions of their apps ready for PIP mode either the day of or shortly after launch. Even the smaller shops like Plex were able to implement the feature with some success.
I waited a year for the YouTube app to get PIP mode. While rumors circulated about it coming to premium users. It never arrived for me. Alphabet/Google/YouTube isn’t short of cash to hire developers. They’re not ignorant of the updates to Apple’s operating systems and it’s not like they have such a small user base that it’s not worth making the update. They just didn’t do it.
I’ve noticed this trend with Google’s apps on the Apple ecosystem. They’re being maintained—sure—but they’re not being enhanced.
Agile software development teams work hard to delight their users. When you look at the changes to any google app for iPadOS or iOS you’ll likely find security updates and some code cleanup that makes it slightly faster but new and expected features aren’t getting deployed.
Of course I shouldn’t be surprised. Alphabet owns Android. Why build for a competing operating system when you can release new features on the platform you’re in charge of? If Google is taking that stance then I’d like to provide a few words of caution.
Google started as a software company that wrote software to provide services, search, mail, video, document editing. I’m not sure if they’ve noticed yet, but the software was the easy part. Combining software with hardware and being responsible for both is hard. This is why they’ve had to partner with HTC to manufacture the Pixel line of phones. Google in and of itself doesn’t have hardware as one of its native competencies. Apple does.
If you notice over the last several years Apple has been steadily moving into the services business. Apple One offers iCloud+, Apple TV, Arcade, Music, News, and Fitness in one bundle. Other services companies have similar offerings so any one of these isn’t innovative on its own, but the catalogue of what they offer is growing. The new update to iOS/iPadOS now allows people to schedule FaceTime calls. This feature will directly compete with Zoom and Microsoft Teams.
Apple’s hardware-first approach reminds me of how my mom used to describe my technique for getting things done as the hard way.
Years later I told her that people who choose to do things the hard way are people who are capable of doing hard things.
Apple’s route to success started with the hard things—the hardware. They’ve gotten better at delivering software over the years that includes features to delight their customers—picture in picture. When companies choose to ignore meeting the expectations of their users their users tend to go elsewhere. As Apple grows their offering of services I believe they’re going to make bigger inroads with more customers and more enterprise customers going forward.
Time will tell.