During the recent Worldwide Developer Conference (WWDC), Apple dedicated significant attention to unveiling new features and apps that are included in the upcoming major releases of iOS, macOS, watchOS, and iPadOS. Unfortunately, many of these functionalities were already provided by third-party apps. Are we surprised? No.
In essence, this indicates that Apple has “Sherlocked” certain ideas, a term used to describe features the company drew inspiration from third-party solutions. The integration of these features directly into the operating system means that users are more likely to rely on the built-in functionality, potentially impacting the business of third-party app developers. As a result, the landscape for these developers becomes more challenging as users gravitate towards the convenience and accessibility of system-integrated features.
The origin of the term “Sherlocking” stems from a historical event involving Apple and a search app called Sherlock. See this article for a full overview of what it is.
In 2002, Apple released Sherlock 3, which included features similar to those found in another app named Watson. As a result, Karelia Software’s app became redundant, leading to significant competition and eventually forcing the company to shut down its operations.
This particular instance of Apple releasing a competing product with similar functionality and rendering a third-party app obsolete became the catalyst for the term “Sherlocking” in the tech community. It serves as a reminder of the impact Apple’s actions can have on smaller developers and the potential challenges they face in a competitive market.
Who’s Apple sherlocked already in 2023?
Apple’s feature: Journaling app
Sherlocked: Obsidian, Day One
During the recent WWDC event, Apple unveiled a forthcoming journaling app that will be launched later this year. This new app comes packed with features, including personalized suggestions tailored to your location, activities, photos, music, and workouts. Apple is taking it a step further by providing access to these suggestions through an API, enabling journaling apps like Day One to incorporate and benefit from them.
The Apple Journal app will offer users the option to set notifications for the beginning or end of the day, serving as reminders to write in their journals. Additionally, users will have the ability to lock their journals, ensuring their privacy and maintaining full control over their entries.
Apple’s feature: Namedrop
The concept of whether something can be considered a “Sherlock” when the app doesn’t exist is a matter of interpretation. In 2009, Bump was introduced with the purpose of simplifying information exchange between devices. However, more recently, Apple launched a feature called Namedrop. This feature enables two iPhone users to effortlessly initiate an exchange through Airdrop, eliminating the need for additional steps.
While the circumstances may not align exactly with a classic “Sherlock” scenario, where Apple replicates the functionality of an existing app, the introduction of Namedrop can be seen as offering similar convenience and streamlining the process of information sharing between devices. The impact on Bump’s business may not be direct, but Apple’s implementation of a comparable feature showcases the company’s commitment to enhancing user experiences and integrating seamless functionalities into their ecosystem.
Apple’s feature: Presenter overlay
Sherlocked: Loom, mmhmm
Apple’s presenter overlay feature allows you to appear on the screen either as a cutout or within a bubble, eliminating the need for attendees to view multiple tiles simultaneously. Other apps like Loom and mmhmm have already done this.
Apple’s feature: Stickers
Sherlocked: Sticker.ly, Sticker Drop
In a recent update, Apple introduced a feature that allows users to easily extract subjects from photos or videos. Independent app developers like Aaron Stephenson quickly seized the opportunity to leverage this capability and convert these objects into standalone images. With the release of iOS 17, Apple has integrated this into the system.
Apple’s feature: Mood logging
Sherlocked: Moodnote, Daylio
With the arrival of iOS 17, Apple introduced a new feature called mood logging, enabling users to track and record their emotions throughout the day or for specific moments. This functionality goes beyond simply logging moods; it also allows users to identify and pinpoint the specific emotions they are experiencing, as well as the factors influencing their mood.
As users engage in multiple mood-logging sessions, the Health app will provide valuable insights based on the recorded data.
Apple’s feature: Web app
With the upcoming macOS Sonoma, Apple is introducing a feature that allows users to dock websites as web apps. These web apps will open in a distinct and streamlined interface, potentially reducing the prevalence of Electron apps.
Testing conducted by an engineer indicates that these converted web apps on macOS Sonoma require less memory compared to Electron apps. The use case of Unite, a platform designed to convert websites into native apps, aligns with this approach.
Apple’s feature: Interactive widgets
Sherlocked: Widgetsmith, Wdgts 2, Widgetwall
During the recent WWDC event, Apple made an announcement regarding Mac desktop customization—users will now have the ability to adorn their desktops with widgets, a functionality that was previously limited to apps like Widgetwall. Until now, widgets were primarily confined to the sidebar, but Apple is expanding their placement options.
Feature: Hiking tracking
In WatchOS 10, Apple introduces a plethora of hiking features, including the integration of topographical maps. The Compass app now offers a new view that incorporates waypoints, such as cellular towers and the most recent emergency call location, to help hikers stay on course. Notably, Topo, one of the leading hiking apps, encompasses many of these features as part of its core functionality, making it a popular choice among outdoor enthusiasts.