New Apple features may leave fresh app roadkill in their wake
With new tools like turn-by-turn navigation in iOS 6, Offline reading list in Safari, and Passport, Apple is likely to undercut several existing third-party applications.
While fanboys everywhere are basking in the glow of hundreds of new Mac and iOS features, executives at a number of app makers are no doubt cursing the fact that, with some of those features, Apple just ran them over and left them for dead.
Take Instapaper, for example. For some time, the app has given Mac, iPhone, and iPad users the ability to save Web pages they want to read later, when they're offline. But today, at its Worldwide Developers Conference keynote in San Francisco, Apple unveiled its Offline Reading List feature for both the Mac and iOS versions of Safari.
With that new tool, Apple is giving its users the ability to save entire Web pages -- not just links, it points out -- into a reading list that can be accessed without an Internet connection. And just like that, Instapaper, as well as competitors like Offline Pages, Pocket, and Browse Later, may well have become roadkill.
The same is true with thetool Apple unveiled today. Among its many new toys is a turn-by-turn navigation system that should allow users to find their way to their destinations without the use of a third-party app. And that means that anyone paying $10 a month to AT&T to use the carrier's Navigator system would be forgiven for canceling that service immediately (upon the release of iOS 6). The same goes for users of other navigation apps like CoPilot Live North America, Gokivo, Magellan RoadMate, and several others.
To be sure, those dedicated apps no doubt offer some features that Apple's won't, but for many users, simply having turn-by-turn navigation built into iOS will be enough to kick the competing apps to the curb.
Another category of apps that seems likely to take a hit thanks to Apple's new offerings is loyalty programs. At WWDC today, the company unveiled, a tool that aggregates users' boarding passes, movie tickets, coupons, and loyalty cards. Essentially, when it comes to loyalty cards, the feature will let users scan things like their existing Starbucks cards and the like, allowing them to stop carrying a wallet full of plastic. Next time they go into Starbucks, for example, they'll be able to pull out their iPhone and pay, rather than fishing around for the plastic card.
And while it's not entirely clear how far Apple is going with this, it does seem that Passbook may pose a danger to third-party apps that aggregate loyalty cards or programs. Passbook seems as though it may offer restaurants and other retailers a similar functionality, meaning that third-party app developers trying to aggregate retailer loyalty programs may find themselves gritting their teeth as they watch users leave in droves.
This isn't, of course, the first time this has happened. Each time Apple rolls out a set of new features, either for iOS or Mac, it seems to run roughshod over existing tools from third parties. For example, when it released itsapp last fall, several competing apps quickly became outdated. If you can think of other types of apps that may find themselves obsolete thanks to Apple's new offerings, please say so in comments.