Apple (AAPL) unveiled its new mobile operating system on Monday at the World Wide Developers Conference (WWDC) and was met by a huge yawn, at least by investors if one goes by the share price action thereafter. However, the last two WWDC events have also seen the shares decline by about 2% in the week that follows, so there was nothing new there.
So, the question is, does the new iOS7 really mean anything as far as improving the user interface? The easy answer: yes, it does. There have already been several articles here on Seeking Alpha that touch upon the changes/improvements that the new OS brings over the previous version. However, I am going to detail out how exactly does the new iOS7 improve Apple's mobile devices and whether it has any impact from an investor viewpoint.
A couple of points to clarify before I get into the meat and potatoes of this article: the new iOS7 is immediately available to developers but the rest of will have to wait till the fall (Sep 2013 or so) to be able to upgrade our existing operating systems. The iOS7 will not work with all devices but will only work with the following: iPhone 4, 4S and 5, iPod Touch (5th Gen), iPad2, 3 and 4 and iPad Mini. There are a few other restrictions as well-the new Panorama camera feature will only be available for the iPhone 4s, 5 and the 5th gen iPod Touch (not available in iPads). Live camera filters will only be available in iPhone 5 and 5th gen iPod Touch. AirDrop will only work on iPhone 5, iPad Mini, 4th Gen iPad and 5Th Gen iPod Touch. Finally, Siri will only be available in iPhone 4S and later, and iPad 2 and later. Given these limitations, users who have the applicable devices will be able to upgrade to iOS7 free of charge. With that out of the way lets get into the article.
First of all, it is easier on the eyes by far. The new icons have a updated and sleek look with new colors and fonts which make the menus and pop ups appear 3 dimensional to our eyes. In addition, the white translucent background gives everything a very clean and crisp look. Impact from an investors point of view: minimal in the short run but meaningful once its made available to the general public (this fall according to the company-no date given as yet) Should increase the "sticky" factor.
iPOS7 will also make file sharing a virtual breeze. With one tap of the share button, one can send selected photos, files, contacts or videos through apps such as Mail, iCloud, Facebook (FB), Twitter to any chosen contact. Airdrop will also let you send files wirelessly (encrypted) through Wifi or any like wireless device. The transfer will only work between devices that have the iOS7 system. Impact: minimal near term, significant once available.
The use of gestures is also an important feature of the new operating system. When your phone is locked, you no longer have to swipe from left to right on the bar at the bottom but now can swipe from anywhere on the locked screen surface to unlock the phone. You can even swipe an email to delete/move it without even having to read/open it like you do at present. Even notifications can be accessed directly from a locked screen. Impact: meaningful once available.
iTunes Radio is also part of the new iOS. The radio service will immediately offer over 210 genre-based radio stations totally free of charge. The limitation there is that Apple says at the beginning the service will only be available in the USofA. Impact, meaningful given that 40% of Apple users are US based.
Sometime next year, cars will come with in-dash systems with iOS running various apps and far superior in-car integration than what is currently out there at the moment. Car owners will be able to access music, receive calls, use iMaps to navigate, and send and receive text message/make calls using Siri for a hands-free experience like none other. Car-makers that are already on board with Apple include, Acura, Ferrari, Honda, Infiniti, Jaguar, Mercedes Benz, Nissan and Volvo among others. Impact: huge from broadening their user base. Think about those car owners with iOS7 in their cars wanting all the rest of Apple products at home and in their pockets as well. Think iPads, AirMacs, iMacs, iPhones, iPods et al.
With iOS7, multi-tasking is also very easy and simple. Double click the home button and you will be able to look at screens shots of all currently running apps which can then be selected/closed by just one swipe of that particular app. More importantly, Apple has built into iOS7, AI (artificial intelligence) that will learn from users' habits to optimize updates automatically at times that will cause the least amount of battery drain. Impact very meaningful once available.
The new control center allows you to rapidly access your most used settings, apps and other features. From the control center one can activate Bluetooth, WiFi, Airplane Mode, and any other function such as screen lighting, launch apps like the calculator, timer, camera, contacts, calendar with one tap. the command center also includes a mini music players complete with song information, and play/pause, volume controls. Impact is meaningful once available.
Finally, iOS7 has made several improvements to the camera features. The significant improvement is the use of gestures to the camera by which one can shift between iPhotos, Video and other shooting modes seamlessly. The use of filters has also been simplified and can be either used before taking a photo/video or applied after the fact. Impact is minimal based on my own video/picture taking habits.
With all the changes/additions to newer OS, products and features that Apple is bringing to us within the next few months, these are exciting times for an investor and a consumer of the company's products. However, from an investment point of view, WWDC has done very little to spark the shares higher at present. Having said that, it would not surprise me that at this time next year, investors in Apple could be looking at their shares near the all-time highs or maybe even beyond those levels depending on what products the company will unveil going into the 2013 Christmas season. Exciting times for sure.
Additional disclosure: Long AAPL calls, leaps, Short AAPL weeklies on a rolling basis