IFTTT just released an iOS app, which brings all the great features of the website to iPhones and iPads everywhere. One “recipe” that the blog post mentions is the ability to automatically upload pictures from your iPhone to Dropbox or Google Drive. Pretty cool, huh?
Only thing is, many Android phones have had the feature for years, and in fact, I take it for granted that when I snap a picture on my EVO, it pops up in my Dropbox ten seconds later.
IFTTT’s recent announcement seems to be yet another instance of how Apple, in many ways, has become more of a hardware company than a software company. Beyond iOS itself – and with the possible and notable exception of Safari and iMessage – Apple seems content to let third party apps replace Apple’s own default services. And users, whether frustrated by skeumorphism – which Apple has mercifully nixed in the upcoming iOS 7 – or boxed in by configuration limitations, choose to stay within the iRealm of hardware, but gradually expand to more powerful third party software offerings. This dynamic is an ironic outcome, considering Apple’s phenomenal 2009 “There’s an App for That” campaign.
Perhaps no app better represents Cupertino’s complacency than iTunes. While users quickly gravitated toward streaming services, Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon for video; Spotify and Pandora for music, iTunes remained a solidly “local” device. The newly-released iTunes Radio seems an attempt to combat only Pandora; Spotify and Netflix, with their stream-what-you-want approach, are yet to be truly replaced by native Apple apps.
But then again, Apple is understandably reluctant to kill the goose that laid the golden egg. iTunes is a phenomenally profitable ecosystem, and the revenues that smaller competitors generate are a rounding error on Apple’s balance sheet. Still, Apple has never really feared cannibalization. Tim Cook noted in January:
Our base philosophy is to never fear cannibalization. If we do, somebody else will just cannibalize it. We never fear it. We know iPhone has cannibalized some iPod business, we know iPad has cannibalized some Macs, and that doesn’t worry us.
In the long run, Apple might do well to give users a more robust media streaming experience and greater UX flexibility. And as great as applications like IFTTT are, iOS users shouldn’t really need them for basic photo functions. So, please, Apple, do it soon – those iPad selfies won’t upload themselves.