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What Apple could learn from Windows 10

Ryan Faas | Jan. 4, 2016
Microsoft's OS offers advances that rival Apple should consider implementing on its own.

That level of granularity goes beyond Siri and all of the options are packaged in one place. By contrast, settings that affect Siri are spread across various parts of the iOS Settings app or across other built-in iOS apps. Many users may not even know that some aspects of Siri can be changed in the first place or understand some of the decisions Siri makes about a user. Case in point: my iPhone randomly began giving me time estimates for getting to "work" a while back despite the fact that I work from home; it had presumed I work at the local post office because I typically go there every day to check my PO Box.

The Notebook goes beyond just the basics, however. It allows a user to configure Cortana to automatically search for and/or keep track of a range of relevant information including sports scores, news stories, stock prices, local events, movies and even restaurant recommendations. Although Siri (and various apps and Notification Center widgets) can do this, they generally require some user intervention. If I want to check the score for the New York Giants, for example, I need to ask Siri. With Cortana, I can simply specify that I want it to track those scores and it provides them automatically.

Make features obvious during setup

Another aspect of Windows 10 that Apple could learn from on both the desktop and mobile is making new or less-obvious features clearer to a user during setup.

Apple has done a great job streamlining the process of setting up a Mac or iOS device on first use and after a major upgrade. In some ways, it's done too good a job. Think about either the Mac or iOS Setup Assistant. It asks for basic information, requires you to agree to various terms and services, asks for your Apple ID/iCloud account, and asks whether you want to enable a handful of services, including Siri, location services, iCloud for storage and/or syncing Keychain data, for example. That gets you up and running very quickly, but it doesn’t help you configure most preferences for the OS or bundled apps.

For power users, this isn't a big deal since many know about the features in OS X and iOS and where to find settings for them. Less-informed users are left in the dark. This can be particularly challenging with OS X because there are many features that aren't immediately obvious: extensions, Notification Center, Mail's data detection capabilities, the expansive set of items that can be searched with Spotlight, and the various options for Apple's trackpads.

Windows 10 walks the user through a range of settings, including everything from privacy settings to Cortana to preferred accent color. While going through these options can slow the initial setup, it also helps users learn about features that aren't intuitively obvious. That's a great way to orient a new user and it's particularly helpful for those coming from an older version of Windows or another platform.


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