In a new Businessweek article Craig Federighi, Apple's Senior VP of Software Engineering, dismissed the line against them that its pace of innovation is off. Apple's Senior VP of Design Jony Ive and Federighi pointed out that it's not just about new features, but also the deep layers of integration that went into each one. Of the 5S's fingerprint scanner, Ive said that "there were so many problems that had to be solved to enable one big idea." Today's market gurus, money exchangers and quick-buck thinkers will never appreciate that kind of dedication to overcoming a problem with the right solution and design. At the moment, they prefer to applaud the clowns and thieves in the market because that's how they make a living. But don't confuse that with Apple delivering quality products year in and year out.
Businessweek's Sam Grobart noted that without mentioning competitors (Samsung), it's clear the two executives think some of what passes for innovation is illusory at best. Ive told Grobart that "We didn't start opportunistically with 10 bits of technology that we could try to find a use for to add to our features list." Federighi jumped in at that point to add: "New? New is easy. Right is hard."
This is something that Ive promotes in the new iPhone 5S video: "It's not just rampant technology for technology sake. Every single component, every process has been considered and measured to make sure that it's truly useful and that it actually enhances the user's experience. This care, this consideration, extends to how we protect all of the important information that you actually carry with you on your iPhone. It's what led us to create Touch ID."
Apple's invisibly seamless security feature was five years in the making from a single R&D project through to a series of patents that brought it to a final product. Apple's last patent only publically arrived days before this product feature debuted. This meticulous process is a journey for Apple as they experiment and view a project from varying angles over and over again.
This isn't something new to say for the sake of a marketing campaign or magazine interview. It's a long standing and ingrained philosophy at Apple since Jobs' returned to Apple back in 1996. On page 143 of Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson, Jony Ive is quoted as saying the following:
"Why do we assume that simple is good? Because with physical products, we have to feel we can dominate them. As you bring order to complexity, you find a way to make the products defer to you. Simplicity isn't just a visual style. It's not just minimalism or the absence of clutter. It involves digging through the depth of the complexity. To be truly simple, you have to go really deep.
Samsung's Take on Design is Currently Shallow
Beyond the iPhone's inspiring Touch ID solution there's the iOS 7 feature known as AirDrop. At this year's World Wide Developer Conference (WWDC), Craig Federighi got the crowd howling making fun at Samsung for an aspect of their 2013 TV ad showing how the so-called cool people just tap phones together to share their photos as shown below.
In a segment of Samsung's TV ad noted above, a graduating student has just taken a photo with her new Samsung G4. The young lady looks to her friend and says, "Do you want it." And the two Galaxy phones are then tapped together to share the photo wirelessly as illustrated above. Then one of the parents or "older uncool iPhone owners" says "Oh wow, can I share too?" Reply: No yours doesn't do that" – said with a smiling yet condescending stare.
Well, that's Samsung's shallow off-the-shelf technology and design thinking for you. So when Federighi stated in the Businessweek interview that "New is easy. Right is hard," he actually backed that up during his June WWDC keynote segment.
Federighi: "Airdrop is absolutely the easiest way to share with the people right around you. So now when you're in any app that supports a share sheet (as noted in the photo below), you bring up the share sheet and your friends all around you just show up right there. You tap on one and they're going to get a panel right on their display and can accept what it is you shared (see "1 Photo Selected" in graphic). If they accept it they're taken right into the app.
Federighi added that "If you want to share with multiple people, you just tap, tap, tap (tapping on the photos on your AirDrop share sheet in iOS 7). No need to wander around the room bumping your phone with others (to great laughter)."
Apple didn't follow the crowd with an off-the-shelf NFC dog and pony feature. They dug down a few layers to find a superior solution that in the end is simply superior.
So what happened to the so-called "cool people" in Samsung's 2013 TV Ad? Well, I guess those graduating students now look like idiots or better yet, cult-like "Moonies" with egg on their face. That's about right for Samsung's shallow thinking. And please don't get me started on their new McWatch product – the dumbest, ugliest device I've seen in years with a big eye-buggy camera slapped on to its strap. We'll leave that story for another day. Suffice to say that innovative isn't an adjective that I'd apply.
New is Easy. Right is Hard.
In the end, Apple succeeded where Samsung failed on fingerprint security because it wasn't an off-the-shelf product or solution. It's one that took Apple years of careful planning and thoughtful design so that it would end up where it always belonged, in the familiar Home button that we use every day. The new iPhone 5S security is now so simple, seamless and almost invisible that you could almost take it for granted.
When it comes to sharing photos or files with your iPhone friends and/or family members, you won't have to work a room and engage in strange love-taps. The solution is simply on your iPhone or iPad under AirDrop with no fuss (though it only works with the iPhone 5, 5S, 5C and iPad 4).
Look, Apple is far from being perfect. I've even questioned why Apple couldn't have planned better for a 5 inch display for this year's iPhone 5S. It's not like they're a tiny company struggling to find suppliers to support such a move. Yet I give them the benefit of the doubt that there's a method to their madness. It could be that before going to a larger display they may want to shift to a new kind of sapphire glass cover or perhaps it's about an all-new design form factor that they have in mind. Sometimes a little thing called patience can go a long way.
Though in the end, Federighi said it best: New is easy. Right is hard. This is deeply rooted in Apple's long standing philosophy to "Think Different" as the late Steve Jobs so passionately expounded over the years and over a string of successful industry firsts. It's that driving force to get it right that will always separate Apple from the market chaff.