Analyzing iOS 18's Threat to Third-Party Apps: $393M Revenue at Stake

Apple’s WWDC always leaves app developers wondering which of their apps will be replaced by new iOS features. This practice is known as “sherlocking” and goes back to when Apple introduced Sherlock 3, which was a clone of the third party app Watson.

With iOS 18 Apple is going to integrate several app features directly into the system with Apple Intelligence. This will impact many apps, especially those with over 1K monthly downloads, according to a year of Appfigures data. The impacted apps have earned about $393M and had 58M downloads last year.

Trail apps like AllTrails are most at risk from new iOS features offering offline trail maps and recommendations. These apps make up 78% of the “sherlocked” revenue and 40% of the downloads, with user spending up 28% and downloads up 32% from last year.

Grammar helper apps, led by Grammarly, will also be impacted. These apps earned $35.7M with 9.4M downloads last year and will now compete with Apple’s integrated AI tools. User spending was up 40% and downloads up 23% from the previous year.

Math solving and emoji making apps are also at risk. Math apps earned $23M with 9.5M downloads, emoji apps earned $7M with 10.6M downloads. Password managers are more impacted by traditional software changes as iOS 18 introduces a Passwords app for seamless use across Apple devices. These apps saw 48% increase in downloads and 38% increase in revenue over the past year.

But there is hope for developers. A smarter Siri in iOS 18 can help apps stand out with new features. Even with new Apple tools, third party apps that offer more value will continue to attract users. Developers who update their apps can still thrive, using Siri and Apple Search Ads for growth.

Critics say Apple’s approach of bringing third-party app features into iOS is actually killing competition, not innovation. “Sherlocking” not only limits developer growth but also gives Apple more control over the app store. That’s competition and diversity of ideas, gone.

It looks like innovation is slowing across Apple’s products, with updates being incremental rather than revolutionary. How long will Apple maintain its innovation pace and diversity of ideas? Balancing core features with external app support is key to being an innovator and having innovation in the ecosystem.

This post was created and fact-checked using AI-writing assistants and human reviewers.

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