This story from a former employee perfectly sums up Apple's approach when making new products
A former Apple employee shared a story that perfectly sums up this idea and how it guides the company's product development process.
"In any product you make, you have to make sure the experience is more compelling than the feature," this person, who requested to remain anonymous, told Business Insider.This is why certain technologies that Apple tests, such as solar charging, don't always make it into the final product.
Apple had experimented with adding solar charging to the Apple Watch's screen so that it could absorb energy in daylight, according to The New York Times. Apple has been testing solar-powered gadgets since as far back as 2008, which is around the time it developed an iPod with solar charging tech built into its back panel, this former Apple employee said.
But we still have yet to see a solar-powered Apple Watch, iPhone, or iPod, and there's a good reason why -the experience probably wouldn't be that great.
"If I had an iPod that required solar charging and I had to just leave it in the window sill for five hours, or [if] I had to position myself so that I was hitting the sun when listening to music, that would be a sh--ty experience," this person said.
This seemed to be the case with NFC too. Although most of the iPhone's biggest competitors have supported NFC for years, Apple didn't build it into the iPhone until Apple Pay had launched.
Apple has also tested water-resistant technology for gadgets such as the iPod in the past. But, at the time this person worked at Apple, the technology wasn't "100%" waterproof, so Apple didn't publicize it very much, this person said. During one test, the team was even able to fully submerge an iPod Touch in Gatorade while it was playing a video."If it's not 100% waterproof every time, you can't advertise it," this person said. "But you can coat certain parts and just not tell anybody, and then just get better yields, better safety, and better reliability."
In general, when deciding which technologies to test and possibly patent, Apple tries to think about what would be considered "commonplace" technology about four years ahead, this person said. At the time this person worked at Apple, the company was already testing NFC and fingerprint sensor technology even though both of those features weren't integrated into the iPhone until recent years.
It's not surprising to learn that Apple, like many tech companies, often tests different types of technology that may never appear in final products. But it is interesting to learn about how Apple thinks about these technologies and how they contribute to the overall experience of its products.