Whenever Apple releases a major operating system update, as it did last Monday with iOS 17, iPadOS 17 and watchOS 10, developers — both large but mostly independent — release a series of day-one updates to support the platform’s functions.
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- Interactive tools on iPhone and iPad
- The iPhone is the standby gadget that comes with Smart View and could serve as the basis for Apple’s Nest Hub/tablet competitors.
- Extensive updates to wearable apps to support the Smart Stack widget on Apple Watch, as well as the new interface
I understand that Android’s update model is fundamentally different from Apple’s. Notably, the updates are only rolling out to Google’s Pixel phones, which have a relatively small market share, while the bulk of Samsung’s Android phones are typically weeks or months behind. Third-party Android developers have no incentive to update on day one because most of their users will be using the new operating system after some time.
Additionally, there aren’t always many new platform features for app developers to adopt. The last major visual change that required an update was the media player redesign that was introduced with Android 13. When this operating system launched, major first-party apps like YouTube, YouTube Music, and Chrome were already updated to support the new design. However, Spotify took about four months to update its app to Android 13, and other major streaming services took even longer.
As a good citizen of the platform, an update around the time of Android 13 launch for the Pixel would have been best, but based on the user base at the time, you can’t blame the developers for not making it a priority. In comparison, iOS updates roll out immediately to many generations of iPhones.
However, the counter argument is that Android users will not completely miss out on new features in their apps, especially first-party apps. Various Google apps on the Play Store are updated regularly and offer new features without being tied to the operating system version. I think Android users get more functionality this way than iPhone owners. Added to this are new platform functions offered through Google Play Services.
Models vary, as Apple might make a splash with an annual major update (like 17.0) and a couple of smaller updates (17.1) two to three times a year. I would say that users of Google services get new features in one of their apps almost weekly.
I love constant new additions, but I can admit that the annual release of Apple’s flagship operating system is an enviable moment for new apps and features.
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