iOS 14 needs default app changes beyond browser and email

Apple made a silent and significant change to iOS 14 and iPadOS 14 this week, allowing users to set default email and browser apps. It’s a move that means iPhone and iPad owners will be able to click web links or email addresses in any app and open them in their favorite browser or email client. But that’s what Apple’s default app options are going for. Apple will still force everyone to use their own apps for photos, maps, music, messages, calendars, and more.

Apple’s built-in camera app is great for the basics, but there are plenty of better alternatives that offer advanced RAW shooting and other powerful tools that you might want to open from the lock screen shortcut or just automatically appear in apps that take advantage of the camera. Apple could improve the situation of the camera by opening it to third parties as others have done in the past.

While Windows Phone supports changing the default app for the camera, Microsoft and Nokia went further by allowing developers to build special third-party “lenses” in the main camera app. It meant that you could extend the default way of capturing photos without having to switch to different applications, all while these extensions appear in all applications that use the camera.

Windows Phone lenses.
Image: dpreview

Apple Maps has gradually improved over the years, but Google Maps remains far superior outside of the US. USA Unfortunately, you can’t set Google Maps as the universal default for navigation and mapping. That hasn’t changed with iOS 14, although many apps already offer user-adjustable settings to start Google Maps or Apple Maps by default.

Apple hasn’t said much about its decision to limit app defaults to browser and email only, but it certainly feels like an easy capitulation just as the company faces increased scrutiny from regulators about its practices in the App Store. Apple has stopped using its own apps for years, and competitors like Spotify have argued that it uses these defaults to crush the competition.

Siri has always been blocked with Apple Music, and Spotify only started working with the digital assistant last year. Apple also blocked the HomePod from Apple Music, making Spotify playback a cumbersome process. Despite Apple’s changes to Siri on iOS 13 last year, you still have to awkwardly say, “Hi Siri, play Taylor Swift on Spotify,” instead of the default “Play Taylor Swift,” which extracts songs directly from Apple Music. on an iPhone.

iOS 14 will also not allow changes to the default voice assistant. Siri remains the only legitimate option for voice commands, and it’s unclear if the default search queries within Siri, like identifying songs and sending it to Apple Music, will change with this update. You can at least start the top Google Assistant through the new backward gestures that come in iOS 14.

holding a homepod

Apple HomePod.
Photo by James Bareham / The Verge

Defaults like Siri that pushes you to use Apple Music or Safari that returns Google’s search results also help billions of Apple’s net services revenue every year. While license agreements are an opaque area of ​​Apple’s business, we know that Google paid $ 1 billion to remain the default search in Safari in 2014. Some analysts claim that these payments now total more than $ 9 billion per year. .

While Apple still generates most of its revenue through sales of pure hardware, its services business has been growing rapidly in recent years. This puts an even greater focus on defaults and Apple’s ability to leverage its operating system to power its own services in a way that rivals could never do. Apple decided last year that it’s okay to use push notifications to promote its new Apple TV Plus subscription service, despite the fact that third-party app developers are prohibited from doing so.

Apple is gradually lowering its walls, either by choice or due to impending pressure from regulators. Many iPhone and iPad users will be happy that they can finally set up default apps for their browser and email apps, but those same people are probably wondering, like me, why Apple hasn’t gone any further.