I started noticing some of the new features in the iOS 7.1 betas, and the appearance of FaceTime Audio in the OS X 10.9.2 beta just confirmed it to me: something is changing in Apple. Suddenly the minor updates of Apple’s operating systems attract more attention .
It’s a pretty big change since I started using OS X regularly with version 10.4 Tiger: Apple has always reserved the new features and applications that the system may have for important updates, presenting them in a high keynote and receiving the applause of the developers and the press.
But now things like FaceTime Audio come as a surprise and in a secondary OS X update. It seems like Apple is starting to work on throwing things around instead of accumulating news to be presented all at once in a new OS X. As soon as something is ready, it’s out.
In my opinion, this can be due to two reasons. The first one can be the simple effect of the changes that Tim Cook has applied to Apple, changing the OS X release schedule and deviating from the path that Steve Jobs started in 2001. And it’s happening like all the other changes: they are so gradual that sometimes it’s hard to notice them.
There’s something else that might be more feasible. Mavericks has made OS X free, so why retain and accumulate important new features and present them all at once when we no longer need this appeal in order to make people pay ? Users no longer have that barrier, and will decide whether or not to upgrade by simply weighing the compatibility of their Macs and the benefits that the new version brings.
It may be because of Tim Cook’s changes, it may be because of the end of OS X’s price… or maybe it’s a mix of both?
It’s still too early to assess this as a definite trend (Apple has always surprised me in one way or another with its changes of direction), but at least that’s what seems to be happening at the moment. Personally I see it as good news because this way we will see substantial improvements like the interface changes of iOS 7.1 and that FaceTime Audio we have talked about, although we also hope that Apple will keep some ace up its sleeve for when it has to launch the successor of OS X Mavericks.