These Are the Five Most Important Apple Software Products of 2017

3 minute read
| Editorial

2017 was a good year for Apple products, especially compared to the snoozefest of 2016. Apple shipped more than 20 new products in 2017, but here are the five most important software products.

ARKit

Apple’s most important software announcement was ARKit. It brought augmented reality into the mainstream, and it made comprehensive tools for developing augmented reality applications (in both senses of the word) open to legions of iOS developers.

Augmented reality examples in iOS 11 ARKit

Augmented reality examples in iOS 11 ARKit

More importantly, ARKit is a stepping stone to transitioning iPhone, iPad, and iOS to future products that could well supplant iPhone and iPad. From games to information, wide scale availability of augmented reality will be seen as a significant milestone in technology—and, it will have a profound impact on how we interact with information and the world.

Like so many things that come out of Cupertino, Apple didn’t didn’t invent augmented reality. But, Apple is the company who yanked AR away from the clutches of engineers and gamers and thrust it into the mainstream.

Apple Pay Cash

Peer-to-peer payments are a thing. Like AR above, Apple didn’t invent this category. PayPal, Weibo, and other companies blazed this trail, and in China peer-to-peer payments are a very, very big deal.

Apple Pay Cash makes peer-to-peer payments readily accessible to Apple’s hundreds of millions of customers who already have Apple Pay. It’s easy to use, clear, and simple. And all without downloading another app.

Just as cryptocurrencies have the potential to disrupt the banking industry*, peer-to-peer payments are going to reshape how we handle money with those closest to us.

*Spoiler, I expect banks to eventually co-opt and control cryptocurrency, but that’s still a disruption.

Logic Pro X Updates

Here’s an entry you probably weren’t expecting: Logic Pro X. Apple released several important updates to its flagship recording software in 2017 (January, February, June, December). I think (and hope) these updates demonstrate Apple’s renewed commitment to iterating existing products, especially on the Mac. That’s what earns it a spot on my list.

iPhone X

I know what you’re thinking: iPhone X isn’t software, you numbnut. And you’re right, it’s not and I am, but iPhone X is my stand-in for everything important in iOS 11 that is iPhone X-specific.

Apple had to re-engineer iOS to work without a Home Button, a significant challenge, and now I want my iPads to work the same way. Apple also had to find a replacement for Touch ID. While imperfect, Face ID is a solid step up and away from fingerprints. While everyone else’s consumer facial recognition systems get cracked with things as simple as still images, Face ID has so far proven to be robust.

And don’t let that cockamamie nonsense from Vietnam fool you: those methods for “cracking” Face ID require the human in question to be 3D scanned so they can fabricate an artificial head. If you have enough control over someone to 3D scan their head, you can just hold the darned iPhone X up to the original, the same as you can force someone to put their fingers on a fingerprint scanner.

My point is that Apple modified iOS 11 significantly to make it work for iPhone X in the seamless way only Apple seems capable of doing. iPhone X is a shining example of what makes Apple so much better at technology than every other company.

Animoji

Lastly, I present to you talking poop emoji!

Sure, Animoji allows someone (like me) to make stupid things like that. But come on, it’s fun! But that’s not why I’m listing it here: Animoji is important because it adds another way for people to communicate with each other.

Sure, some of those ways might be stupid, and there’s probably a limit to just how much Animoji Karaoke any of us need. What we do need, though, is more smiles in this world. More laughter. And we absolutely need more ways to communicate with one another.

Apple has steadily transformed iMessage into this amazing hub of communication, of reaching out to one another. And the company did so without making us the product. Maybe I’ll write more on this separately, but though Apple has a reputation for sucking at social media, iMessage is becoming more and more of a social media platform all the time.

And Animoji is part of that. As Face ID is integrated into more iPhones, iPads, and maybe even Macs (PLEASE LET IT COME TO MAC!), Animoji will be part of this quiet arsenal Apple has given us to talk to one another.

And I love that.

2 Comments Add a comment

  1. geoduck

    Animoji? Really?
    Secure facial recognition is the important software product.
    Animoji is a stupid parlour trick that utterly trivializes it.

  2. wab95

    @goeduck:

    As much as I respect your point of view, I have to differ with you on this one.

    Animoji is not a trivialisation, it’s an accessible gateway to the masses for a new paradigm in communication. At least potentially. Ultimately, adoption will be user driven, but my kids’ generation likes the graphic communication potential animoji affords.

    I’m reminded of the dismissive reception accorded to the graphical user interface of the Mac back when I was in medical school by both big iron and IBM PC users, and the assertion by some that the GUI and mouse would never go mainstream. I’m also reminded of a review of the first MBA, and the writer’s comment that, if you have to ask why create such a light notebook, then it’s clearly not meant for you.

    I see this as fundamentally that latter issue. What animoji represents may not be for the original iPhone generation, but their successors.

    In any case, the potential applications are enormous.

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