When Steve Jobs took the podium at the Worldwide Developers Conference on Monday, consumers eagerly awaited the news from on high about how much simpler their lives were about to become.
Conversely, all the developers following along (either in physical attendance or breathlessly waiting for the liveblog to auto-update) knew to be scared for their beloved apps. After all, Apple has been known to adapt ideas from third-party markets into its evolution with each new iOS update. It turned out, of course, that the fears were justified.
In fact, it seems as though Apple has done more than play catch-up with Android and third party developers — they've captured the flag. In the same way that having Windows' Internet browser built into its OS killed off Netscape and the like eons ago, with the unveiling of the feature-rich iOS 5, a lot of developers' fates seem uncertain. Here are 11 third-party apps that are staring into the abyss after Monday's coming out party.
After iOS 5: This beloved cloud-based app offers simple, free file-sharing across multiple platforms, but Dropbox now seems destined to be remembered as a pre-cursor to the iCloud. Apple's service will seamlessly copy and sync documents, emails, calendar updates and contacts from a Mac or PC, over to mobile devices such as the iPhone and iPad and back. Also, iCloud offers 5GB free storage, which is 3GB more than Dropbox does for the same.
The Upshot: Dropbox is compatible with Android users. That will be the key to its continued existence.
After iOS 5: Now that Apple's iOS 5 will have integrated Twitter functionality built into every level, a lot of third party Twitter apps will be feeling the pinch. One of the more popular clean examples is Echofon Pro, the universal app whose selling point was its compatibility with all of Apple's devices.
The Upshot: While iOS 5 has built-in tweeting capabilities, including synced contacts and the ability to Tweet a picture with one click (increasing the likelihood of more Weiner-esque debacles), it is made for sharing more than receiving information. Echofon's ability to search keywords and profiles and view trending topics may save it.
After iOS 5: This photo editing software offers image stabilization, digital zoom, cropping, sharing with Flickr, rotation, and fixing red eye. The new camera on iOS 5 has a lot of features that bridge the gap, including focus, exposure lock and capture via the volume key. The ethically problematic part is that Apple pulled Camera+ from their App Store for having that last item as a hidden feature.
The Upshot: By optimizing in post-processing and sharing, Camera+ could be able to stay in the game.
After iOS 5: Recently profiled in The New York Times, the photo-sharing app will now have to contend against Apple's Photostream, which automatically shares all photos taken on an Apple device with every other Apple device, and stores them for 30 days. If that weren't enough, Instagram was also great for sharing pictures via Twitter, which as mentioned above, Apple has now made a cinch.
The Upshot: Instagram still has more functionality than what Apple is offering, mainly filters and other sharing options besides Twitter.
After iOS 5: Um, it's right there in the name: Apple will now have a feature called Wi-Fi Sync that syncs iTunes to mobile devices wirelessly, just like this homonymously named jail-break app that retails for a comparatively steep $9.99.
The Upshot: Greg Hughes, the original Wi-Fi Sync's developer, may have a legal case against Apple.
After iOS 5: LockInfo is the most complete lockscreen app available for the iPhone (requires jailbreak). Users can view new emails, delete them, or mark them as read. They can also notify users of a lot more than that, but now Apple's Android-ish Notifications Center will be able to do the same thing. Notification Center's lockscreen display allows users to swipe down from the top like with Android, and get all their alerts in one place.
The Upstart: App developer David Ashman sounds upbeat in a Tumblr post responding to the WWDC presentation. He points out several features that differentiate his service from Apple's, including quick previews, social media integration and integration with other apps.
After iOS 5: This iOS browser was previously the best on the market. It is the fastest and has the most features, including full-screen, rotation lock, and — arguably most important — the ability to open new tabs in background. Perfect Browser had a lot of users leaving Safari behind. Now that iOS 5 is updating Safari with many features like private browsing and those crucial tabs, the upstart app is going to look much less attractive, if it's even viable at all.
The Upside: Um, nostalgia for the recent past might drive sales? That, and maybe folks who just aren't accustomed to tapping the Safari icon anymore.
After iOS 5: Speaking of Safari, another update the browser is receiving in the iOS 5 overhaul is a Reading List function. This addition seems poised to give Instapaper a run for its money. Until now, Instapaper has been the leading Read Later bookmarking app, but when users have a built-in alternative for syncing and storing, what's to keep them from jumping ship?
The Upshot: Instapaper has cross-platform and cross-browser support, for one thing. In a blog post responding to the WWDC, founder Marco Arment wrote that "Apple's offering is Safari and OSX centric. What use is read it later when I potentially can't get access on the device I'm using?"
After iOS 5: Another reading app that will be affected by the new hardware is Apple's 2010 iPad App of the Year, Flipboard. The clever software that made people question the sustainability of the magazine industry (uh, even more than they do usually), will now be going up against Newsstand, a new section of Safari that essentially collates webpages and turns them into the pages of a magazine, simple and clean.
The Upshot: Flipboard has the ability to combine blog and magazine pages with material glommed from the user's social media sites as well, for a more personal experience.
After iOS 5: Apple's new iMessage feature emulates just about everything that makes WhatsApp one of the best applications on the iPhone right now, namely SMS, MMS and audio messages to other iPhone users who have a data connection. It will take a determined loyalist to actively seek out a new app that performs comparably to iMessage.
The Upshot: WhatsApp has cross-platform capabilities with Android and Blackberry, which could be its saving grace.
After iOS 5: Along with "Remember the Milk" and EverNote, Wunderlist is one of the top organizational mobile apps people use to stay on track. Apple's new task-management feature, Reminders, does pretty much the same thing, though, only with the innovative bonus of GPS-enabling, which will tie specific reminders into specific locations. Let's face it, that's pretty impressive.
The Upshot: Wunderlist developer Robert Kock shot back in a blog post — clearly the premiere method for developers to release a missive these days — that laid out the differences between his product and Apple's, among them a cross-platform option, individual design, and robust sharing options that allow for collaboration.