April 11, 2013
Earlier this week, The Wall Street Journal reported that Apple and Yahoo hoped to strengthen their ties by offering “deeper integration” between Yahoo’s services and the iPhone. On the surface, this prospect looks benign enough since the search company has always had a place on iOS going back to the first iPhone in 2007. If deeper integration, however, is code for less Google on iOS, count me among the skeptics. After all, it wasn’t that long ago that Apple dropped Google Maps, and YouTube from the list of native iOS apps. But this isn’t a story that offers support for Google, or their products. In fact, I wish that Apple would get out of the “preferred,” “default,” or whatever you wish to call it, integration business altogether. Instead, let the customer decide what they use on the iPhone/iPod touch and iPad. Consider two key points mentioned in The Wall Street Journal report. First, it is said that Siri could soon be able to ramble on about the day's headlines, courtesy of Yahoo News. Again, on the surface, very benign. Anything that makes Apple’s voice assistant smarter sounds like a step in the right direction, and it is. And yet, maybe a user doesn’t like Yahoo News, or for that matter Google News. Maybe they would prefer news from the Huffington Post, or Fox News. In other words, give us a choice. The first time a user turns on an iOS-powered device, they are asked to enable Siri. As part of that step, Apple should also prompt the user to select Siri’s default news provider. Better yet, add selecting a weather, and sports provider to that list as well. In other words, offer content providers access to some sort of Apple-endorsed API, and then let the user decide what is best for them. The same goes for search in mobile Safari. Right now, users do have a choice between Bing, Google, and Yahoo, as their default search engine. However, when iOS starts for the first time, Google is that default. While most of us are technically savvy enough to figure out how to change this, some are not. Therefore, since Apple decided that Google Search was the default, it remains so on millions of iOS devices. Apple should give us a real choice. The first time iOS starts, Apple should give us a list of search engines in which we can choose to set our default. Better still, when that choice is made, Apple should automatically install the iOS app that is associated with that service. For example, the third-party Google Search app. I understand that Apple wants to control the iOS experience. I also get that they want anyone to be able to pick up an iOS device and use it, regardless of their experience. However, most of us aren’t blind, and neither is Apple. In many cases, Apple’s default apps or processes in iOS aren’t the best solution available. For this we have Apple’s own App Store, which I understand is quite popular with users, and also something that makes Cupertino a lot of money each year. In summary, Apple, enough with the sweetheart deals, and deeper integration with company X, Y, or Z. Instead, give us the choice of what comes out of Siri’s voice. And let us decide which search engine to use throughout iOS.