Apple is getting very good at sherlocking the best apps. In case you don’t know what it means, avoid a post by Cocoanetics who got it terribly wrong on Google, and head straight for Urban Dictionary.
When an app adds an exceptional feature to an Apple OS or product, there has become a tendency for Apple to simply bake it into the OS, and render the app superfluous.
Consider the original app that was Sherlocked: Watson. The app was in fact sherlocked by Sherlock. Follow the links if you want the back story, in fact look for the question, ‘What is the relationship between Watson and Sherlock 3?’
With iOS 5 Apple started it’s takeover on a couple smaller developers including Marco Arment. The apps Instapaper, Pocket, and Readability focus on allowing users to bookmark and save websites for later reading. Apple added Reading Lists to the Safari address bar in iOS 5.
In the latest updates to iOS and Mac Apple has sherlocked quite a few more apps. On the Mac side they’ve baked in Growl with notification center. They’ve also baked in Air Dictate with Dictation on the Mac.
On the iOS side they’ve baked Instapaper in even further with offline reading. They’ve baked in Tom-Tom with built in navigation directions. They’ve even baked in Instagram with iPhoto sharing and comments.
What was the biggest sherlock? Dropbox. Documents in the cloud is the biggest hit on an application yet. Up till now, Dropbox has only slightly been aligned with iCloud. Now they are both in the same ring.
Marco and his competitors claim the impact of being sherlocked on iOS 5 hasn’t been negative. In fact, they claim that the business has grown. Hopefully the effect on other developers will be just as positive.