Why iOS is the future of Apple (and how we got here)

As the world shifts to mobile devices, Apple puts its development resources where they matter

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iOS, like all mobile OSes, needs to be responsive and stable -- it generally is already - but it does need better third-party iCloud syncing support. It also sounds as though, based on recent speculation about UI changes, we'll see lead designer Jony Ive's new take on the overall interface. That should make iOS look more like 2013 and less like 2007.

The Apple ecosystem

How important is iOS in the Apple ecosystem? Look at it this way: Apple has more than 500 million active iOS user accounts, with some analysts predicting there will be more than 600 million by year's end. That enormous iOS base - most of whom are using iOS 6 already - offer a compelling siren song to developers looking to make a living. And it creates a secondary market of connected devices that continues to grow by leaps and bounds.

As a result, the variety of Stuff That Can Be Done using iOS and the apps built for it is telling.

There are countless examples of useful and cool things you can now do with iOS that were never an option for OS X. For instance, I'm into fitness (sometimes) and the breadth of hardware add-ons and software available for iOS, just in the Health- and Activity-tracking categories alone, is enough to make my head spin.

Among the items I'm using are the Withings Wi-Fi-enabled Smart Body Analyzer, an iHealth blood pressure monitoring kit, and a glucose monitor for real-time measurements; I downloaded RunKeeper and MyFitnessPal for tracking activity and calories, respectively. (I used the latter to set a weight plan and goal.)

Even better? The hardware comes with dedicated iOS apps that are capable of syncing results with their respective online services. Those online services take things even further by tying themselves into other, sometimes competing, online services, allowing for cross-application data-sharing.

The TactioHealth app, as an example, takes all of my data and stores it in one place, making it easy to track my health over time, offering graphs with healthy/unhealthy zones, and providing simple instructions on how to improve my scores.

Certainly, I didn't need an iPad attachment to tell me I had high blood pressure, but the actual numbers (without a doctor's visit) are good to know, and the information has actually motivated me to do better.

This is the power of a platform that has reached critical mass: there are more possibilities than you know what to do with. At this point, all categories are covered. Want to remote start your car? There's an app and service for that. Home automation? Same. Reading? Gaming? Entertainment? It's all here, and available now.

We're really only at the beginning of how mobile connectedness is going to change how we live, work and relax. Just as the Mac was positioned as the Digital Hub for other electronics, iOS allows our iPhones and iPads and iPods to interact with other devices that wouldn't be feasible with traditional desktops or laptops. In all my years of using Apple computers, I've never seen anything like the explosion of accessories, hardware, and software that's been seen in the last six years.

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