Tristram Bates, mkodo: The Future of OS

Tristram Bates, mkodo: The Future of OS

With the release of Android 12 and iOS 15 imminent, the usual raft of improvements, enhancements and new features will offer yet more scope for users and developers alike, writes mkodo Engineering Manager and iOS Lead Tristram Bates.

As each year and each new operating system passes, there continue to be a host of innovative features that offer further flexibility to users to run their lives from the device in their pocket. Whether or not individuals perceive that as a good thing is subjective, but the fact remains that the demand for and the use of mobile devices for every facet of modern life grows daily and with that, operating systems and, subsequently, app developers must keep pace.

While the incoming operating system (OS) updates don’t contain any particularly ground-breaking innovations, the continued focus on improving user interfaces, personalisation options and for example, widget enhancements are a nod toward Google and Apple’s understanding of how entrenched devices now are in our daily lives. They’re being designed to make life easier and future versions of Android and iOS will continue to do that 

The growing availability and utilisation of everyday smart home features continues apace with everything from entertainment and lighting to heating and even car keys are all funnelled through our devices. Our life admin is also increasingly stored on our phones too and later this year, users in participating US states will be able to add a driver’s license or state ID to the iOS Wallet app. 

It perhaps won’t be too long before passports are added too and the plastic wallets that are clutched by many travellers at airports across the world will see their days numbered. Most current passports have an NFC chip built into them, as do phones, and we already have the capabilities of reading NFC-based passports. Since the technology is already in place and as society increasingly shuns physical documents, many see it as only a matter of time before the phone is the only device needed to provide all of our official ID and paperwork requirements. Perhaps this is an opportunity to scan a user’s passport to verify they are of age to place a bet.

With such a plethora of options for the user across the breadth of business, lifestyle and entertainment applications, understanding your OS and how it can shape the development of your app for the advantages they bring over simple web browsing or web apps has never been more key. Apple and Android add so much to their platforms each year, it can be difficult to utilise them all in the development of the latest apps, but perhaps the biggest hurdle developers face is the requirement for the latest hardware/handsets which many users don’t yet own.

Unlike Android, traditionally with Apple, older versions of iOS do not get security updates, therefore users of non-current handsets who are unable to upgrade to the current versions, miss out on these critical security updates. Going forward, Apple intends to offer security updates to older, noncurrent versions of their operating systems. This will also give users the choice to just take a security “patch” for their current operating system version, or upgrade to the newest – if their handset supports it. However, this may impact user adoption of the newest OS’s, although we can see why Apple is doing this. It would seem they want to ensure that they have a way of providing security patches to older devices.

Android will continue to support its legacy devices, which is one of its more popular characteristics and, as such, it has a significant number of users on older OS, such as Android 7. Time will eventually catch up with these users however and as more app developers finally drop support for the older versions, it will allow for more time to be spent on making the most of new future improvements.

As we spend more time connected to our digital lives and users become more competent and confident with their devices and the data they share on them, privacy will rightly become a much greater focal point for many. Both Apple and Google are keen to espouse the tighter controls users can have over their information with the former introducing a new App Privacy Report in iOS15. It will detail how often apps use the permissions they have been granted, while a new built-in VPN service will also feature, effectively funnelling all browsing data through Apple and granting users an anonymous IP address. 

Android meanwhile has announced new privacy features for 12 to make data collection by apps more transparent. The new tools also give users more granular control over app permissions to help them better manage how and when apps access their information. A new Privacy Dashboard that gives users a detailed view of how apps access their information will also become available showing an overview of how many apps accessed your location, camera, and microphone in the past 24 hours.

Mobile devices are, for many, the most used in this digital age – always at hand, or at least, never far away and with that comes the onus on developers of devices, operating systems and apps to ensure that they are working for everyone. The future for this now indispensable tech appears bright, intuitive and more flexible than ever, allowing us to be truly mobile in a way we’ve never seen before.

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