Last week, Apple announced a huge batch of products aimed straight at the heart of existing companies and apps. Here are just a few of the things that are feeling a spinning beachball target on their backs.
iCloud has never been a hugely appealing cloud storage option, that’s at least partially because Dropbox and its contemporaries are so damn good. Apple’s revamped iCloud Drive, though, comes with one of the best features from Dropbox: the ability to manage a folder of cloud-based files directly from a Finder window, exactly as if the files were saved on local storage. (In fairness, Dropbox is hardly the only service that offers this feature.)
Though Dropbox and other cloud storage solutions aren’t just going to roll over and die, Apple has a distinct advantage in that the new tool will come pre-installed with OS X. And at prices that are at least competitive, iCloud’s Drive’s going to be a strong default option for the Apple faithful.
Evernote-owned annotation tool Skitch is totally awesome, which is probably why Apple has taken many of its features and incorporated them into the Mail application as a tool called “Markup”. As with Skitch, you’ll be able to write and draw on documents as well as add fun effects like text bubbles to images, PDFs and text. Skitch still offers some tools that you can’t get from Markup, as well as really slick browser integration. But Markup’s key innovation, the ability to draw those annotations on your touchpad, could be enough reason to leave the venerable Skitch behind.
Hightail, We Transfer
Sharing large files using Hightail (née: YouSendIt) or WeTransfer isn’t as essential as it used to be these days, because people are simply using share links from Dropbox and other cloud storage services more and more often. Still, the new Mail Drop feature built into Apple’s refreshed Mail application might help make them irrelevant for good. The new feature allows you to upload files up to 5GB and attach a secure link your email directly from the email client. No more large email attachment bounce backs. And no need for third-party software to help get your files where they need to go.
Until today, group messaging (and instant messaging in general) wasn’t fully featured enough on Apple’s iMessage platform for it to really be much of a threat to its competitors in What’s App and GroupMe. In fact, it could often be pretty brutal. But Apple made some big improvements to iMessage today, that could give the incumbents a run.
New features include in-line audio and video support, an improved UI on the desktop. Group iMessaging is finally getting “Do Not Disturb” so that the huge chain message you’re on about a dinner party you can’t attend doesn’t ruin your date night. And you can also set your messages to self-destruct. Of course, iMessage has had reliability problems in the past, so don’t count the alternatives out yet.
Shazam has long been the leader on music recognition, and today it was buttressed by Apple with integration directly into Siri in iOS 8. One of the biggest impediments to getting what you want from Shazam is getting the song recognised before your song runs out. (Is it me or does Shazam never occur to me until the final chorus?)
Now that it’s built directly into Siri, activating song recognition is as easy as holding down your home button. Given the huge number of iOS users, that’s going to make it very hard for SoundHound and the like to survive.
Apple didn’t burst through the front door of the internet of things with hardware. Instead, it decided to develop an API that helps developers create tools to easily connect and control your gadgets using just your phone. The thinking here seems to be that you want to be the platform everyone else builds their gadgets for, rather than than trying to find the single piece of hardware that will revolutionise the ecosystem. And if Google-owned Nest’s recent problems are any indication, maybe starting with the platform is the way to kill off would be competitors.
Are we missing anything Apple tried to kill today? Let us know in the comments below.