This week, November 15th to the 19th will go down in history as the dawn of a new Apple Inc.
Let’s start off with the obvious. This week Apple officially shipped its first non-Intel based Macs and the reception has been nothing short of incredible. For the companies biggest transition yet to its own architecture, the roll-out from a consumer and developers point of view could not have been better. Apple’s new SoC for the Mac, a move away from Intel processors opens the door for unlimited possibilities.
The Apple Silicon may look like new processors on the outside, but its long term strategic implications are massive. Apple now completely controls both the software and hardware for all of its products. It develops iOS, iPadOS, watchOS, macOS, and tvOS, and makes the main core hardware for each of its devices.
For any company, having that level of control for each of the different levels of its customer experience is a huge advantage. But for Apple, it’s game-changing. Apple prides itself on tight integration between its software, hardware, and services. And now, with a unified architecture across all of its devices, it’s able to take that pride to a whole new level.
It’s not all sunshine and rainbows, however. That tight level of control of the customer experience has landed Apple in hot waters, specifically when it comes to the App Store. Fueled and spear-headed by Epic Games and others, Apple has come under criticism for having a “monopoly” over the App Store ecosystem, and unfairly treating developers. But on Wednesday, November 18th, things changed.
Apple has had a long-standing 30% commission policy that gives it the right to take a 30% cut from in-app purchases made from apps distributed via the App Store. The policy has long been contested and for fair reasons. While there are large developers on the App Store with $1 million+ budgets who can afford the 30% cut, there are also many indie developers. Many of those smaller developers live off of or rely heavily on the income they make from their apps on the App Store, so the 30% slice was steep and deprived them of extra cash.
Thankfully, Apple has changed. Starting next year, Apple will now only charge indie developers or developers who make less than $1 million a year a 15% commission, ultimately giving all eligible developers a 15% pay raise. The economic impact this will have is massive, whether or not it impacts Apple’s bottom line, it hands developers a massive boost in income, which could motivate even more people to join the developer ecosystem, leading to even more apps on the App Store.
The change in policy doesn’t solve all of the issues that large developers like Epic Games and Spotify have with Apple and the tight control of its ecosystem, but it does reveal Apple’s willingness to adjust. Apple is historically hard-headed when it comes to changes like these, but this time Apple clearly felt the weight from anti-trust investigations, and ultimately decided it was best to change.
Since the start of its feud with the tech-giant, Epic Games has said that its fight with Apple is “for the small developers” who can’t financially afford a legal battle with the $1+ trillion company. That intent, whether true or not is now no longer valid thanks to the change in policy.
And lastly, Shortcuts. Apple runs beta software all the time and encourages users running its betas to submit feedback before this software officially releases to the public. Apple claims that it listens and reads feedback, but many are skeptical that any actually get read due to the lack of ideas that typically get implemented. But today, Apple flipped that narrative on its head.
With the introduction of Shortcuts in iOS 12 users have been able to make custom icons for apps by creating a shortcut that opens that app, then placing that shortcut with the custom icon onto their homescreen. The only issue is that by doing so and tapping that shortcut, iOS would first open the shortcuts app then proceed to the actual app.
The behavior was largely not cared for until the dawn of iOS 14 which saw a massive trend of users customizing their homescreen thanks to new widgets. Then, the issue became clear. The fact that the Shortcuts app opens before proceeding to the actual app turned many people away from adding custom icons to their device.
However, due to an incredible amount of feedback, Shortcuts on iOS 14.3 beta 2 no longer opens the Shocruts app and instead has a small banner at the top when the app opens. The new change opens the door to actual custom icons on iOS and iPadOS devices, which within itself is a feature that customers have been asking for.
From the new Apple SIlicon Macs to a pay raise for indie developers, and the change in Shortcuts behavior on iOS/iPadOS, this week has been a clearly historic week for Apple, and who knows what may still come.