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Have Mobile OS Stalled Out?

Have Mobile OS Stalled Out?
June 01
10:19 2015

Jason Parker has been at CNET for nearly 15 years. He is the senior editor in charge of iOS software and has become an expert reviewer of the software that runs on each new Apple device. He now spends most of his time covering Apple iOS releases and third-party apps.


For a big part of the Google I/O 2015 keynote, Google showed off Android M, the next iteration of its mobile operating system. Some of the highlights include a new USB Type-C charger, better app permissions, a new Doze mode for better power management, and the advent of Android Pay.

Yawn. None of the Android announcements left me gobsmacked. While I can appreciate the redesigned photos app and new changes for Google Now, there just wasn’t anything that really surprised me or got me excited.

Understand that I don’t blame Google, or any lack of trying by all OS manufacturers taking baby steps toward perfection. I think the problem (if you can call it that), is that mobile OSes from both Google and Apple are so mature now, that there are no longer any glaring features missing. It also might be that the form factor of what is now the standard smartphone (roughly a 5.5 x 2.7-inch rectangle) limits innovation. What ever the reason is, it means that OS update announcements aren’t going to get crazy-exciting anytime soon.

But this is not just about Google. The rumors we’re hearing about the next iPhone operating system — which will likely be announced June 8 at Apple’s own developers conference — are not much different. iOS 9 will allegedly get an enhanced keyboard that has extra functions in landscape mode, the shift key design will be more noticeable, and the Maps app will get transit directions (finally). Oh, and plenty of bug fixes and compatibility improvements for older devices.

These are all useful additions too, but I wouldn’t call any of them ground-breaking — just refinements for what we already have. There will likely be more features, but I expect them to be along the same “better functionality” line. In other words, it seems like we’ve reached the point where there is just not that much left to add to these mini computers we carry in our pockets and purses.



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