OK, what’s the single most used app on your iPhone? Mail? Safari? Maps? The camera? Apple says the most used app on the iPhone is Messages. We don’t know exactly what ‘most used’ is (frequency or time) but I’m not going to argue the point because I spend a lot of time using Messages on my iPhone. Messages is Apple’s new mini-Platform.,
What’s In A Platform?
The definition of a platform, as it relates to computers– and iPhone is a super computer in your pocket– varies, but definitions include operating systems like Android, iOS, Windows, and now macOS, but could also include various frameworks like Adobe Flash, Java, or even cloud computing with a ‘platform as a service.’
In other words, a platform can be defined as any app, OS, or framework which has many users who devote time and effort to whatever the so-called platform does.
Facebook, thanks to 1.65-billion users and a wholly integrated, mostly self-standing environment, is as much a platform as Android or iOS or anything else. Facebook Messenger boasts nearly a billion users. WhatsApp has about a billion users. See how that works? Those are platforms because so many people devote so much time to using each one.
Apple’s New Platform
Allow me to stick my neck out slightly beyond my digital technology chops and declare that Apple’s upcoming Messages, soon to be available within iOS 10 and macOS Sierra, is a mini-Platform that is valuable to Apple because nearly 1-billion people use it, and for many, it’s their single-most and personalized social network.
Handwriting? Yes. In Messages. And in Watch. Talk about old school. Stylus, anyone?
There is plenty of digital eye candy in iOS 10’s Messages. There are stickers, animated emojis, bill payments, photos, movies, voice notes, Invisible Ink, an emoji definer (an option that selects emoji words from within a Messages text), dinner reservations, more predictive assistance, Siri, and the aforementioned iCandy.
Why is Apple making Messages a mini-Platform?
Let’s call it lock in. Apple wants you to keep using Messages vs. WhatsApp or vs. Facebook Messenger or vss any one of dozens of ways to communicate with friends, family, and co-workers because the iPhone maker recognizes that Messages isn’t just texting. It’s a social network on a smaller scale than FaceBook, yes, but an important one; sufficiently valuable to Apple for it to give you reasons to stick to Messages (which is available– for now– only on Apple’s products) instead of straying to other apps which can be used on nearly any mobile device (except Windows Phone, may it rest in peace).
Messages has become a platform by default. No, it’s not FaceBook or Android or Windows, but it’s far more than macOS (or, OS X if you’re still sticking with the past) because it’s in use by so many people, and it’s an increasingly important part of an Apple customer’s iOS life.
True, a large portion of the new Messages is totally, unadulterated iCandy but that only enhances the overall user experience which is highly emotional anyway. It’s not just about sending a text message. It’s about social interaction and there are enough users involved that Apple recognized the need to cater to their requirements, and, of course, people gobble up iCandy.
Yes, we could call Messages the iCandy Social Network, but that would be wrong (if it were not so accurate).