"We have always been shameless about stealing great ideas." - Steve Jobs, 1994
That quote may be almost two decades old now and the man who spoke it may no longer be with us, but with today's release of iOS 7 it's clear that Apple still very much believes in it. There are a ton of fantastic features in iOS 7 that have never been included in an iOS release before, but that doesn't make them original. In fact, there are several third-party apps that already do a lot of what makes iOS 7 so special, but by snatching those ideas and making them its own, Apple's own product becomes better -- and the ground beneath these apps begins to shrink.
Camera vs. Camera+
Camera+ is one of my all-time favorite iPhone apps, and I've been using it for years now. That said, with each new release of iOS, the gap between the functionality of Camera+ (along with 90% of all third-party camera apps, for that matter) and the built-in camera app is shrinking. iOS 7 has all the standard tricks in place, like cropping and rotating photos, but with the addition of features like real-time filters, Apple's own app won't warrant a replacement for most users this time around.
Those of you have Camera+ probably already know that it was updated today, adding exposure compensation, the square crop, AirDrop support, and a host of sharing improvements. But still, the Camera+ team must be tired of seeing that stock iPhone Camera app close behind and looming in the rearview mirror.
iTunes Radio vs. Pandora
Customizable radio apps like Pandora, Slacker, and Spotify couldn't have been happy to hear about iTunes Radio, and now that it's available to everyone with an iOS 7 device, it'll be interesting to see how they respond. For users who want a premium experience (like custom playlists and specific on-demand music choices) the subscription options of third-party music apps will still be the best bet, but for those of us who just want to pick a few artists, create a station, and enjoy the music, iTunes Radio is more than adequate.
iTunes Radio learns what you like, and the more you use it the better it gets at picking tracks you'll enjoy. You can even grab songs you own from your music library and have a station built around them. In short, iTunes on iOS has just properly entered the streaming radio scene, and competitors should be very afraid.
AirDrop vs. Dropbox
I can already hear the arguments rising up to squash this one, but hear me out: For power users Dropbox is probably irreplaceable, and if you're the kind of person who pays big bucks each month for a huge amount of cloud storage that you can have others access from a dozen different locations, you're not going to be wowed by Apple's own AirDrop sharing option. However, for iOS users who just want to toss a document to a coworker or toss a few photos from a trip to friends, its simplicity makes it the most appealing option.
No, AirDrop doesn't threaten Dropbox on most levels, but it does something equally important: It helps prevent users who are looking for a simple sharing solution from ever needing to think about Dropbox in the first place. That's a powerful tool, and if Apple makes expanding AirDrop functionality a priority, it could do some real damage down the road.
iCloud Photo Sharing vs. Cluster
We've been down this road before, haven't we? If Cluster didn't already have problems now that Facebook duplicated its only trick with the flip of a switch, Apple has now put the nail in its coffin. iCloud Photo Sharing lets users create shared photo streams that will automatically populate to the iOS devices of the participants. You can choose who is or is not allowed in each stream and also comment on the photos. In short, it's everything Cluster does, but it's already built into iOS 7. That $1.6 million in funding sure seems well spent now, eh?