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The iSource iOS 6 Wishlist

The Worldwide Developers Conference will take place in early June, and with it will likely come a preview of iOS 6. As such, we’ve put together a team list (organized by author) of the improvements we’d like to see in the next iteration of iOS. The wishes here are varied, but it’s clear (due to a bit of repetition) that notifications, iCloud, and the file system on the iPhone and iPad could do with some loving this year.

ROB RENK

  • Better Maps. I was very happy to see the news that Apple is rumored to be moving to in-house mapping solutions for iOS 6. The possibility of seeing less and less of Google in my life makes me smile inside. I’m also feeling a little greedy with this request – not only do I want to have an in-house mapping solution that will be better than anything we’ve seen before, but I would love to have turn-by-turn navigation built in, and map views available in landscape mode, too! I’d just assume not to have to use anymore third party mapping applications if I didn’t have to. I would also love to be able to download or cache regions ahead of time for those instances that I don’t have a reliable data connection. In my line of work this is a very regular occurring problem for me. Currently this is only possible by buying applications that are very large in size because all the mapping data is downloaded onto the iPhone via the app.
  • Notification Center improvements. Notifications on the iPad look out of place, ugly and very un-Apple like. I’m not sure how to improve it, but having the Notifications menu centered in the middle of the screen as small as it is just looks wrong. I think Apple can do better. To expand on that, I want do-not-disturb capabilities like we are seeing in Mountain Lion, mostly for when I’m playing games or working on something that I need to focus on. A simple switch or button, perhaps located in Notification Center, would work just fine. In addition, it sure would be nice to have the ability to customize Notification Center a little more with shortcuts to commonly used features without having to jailbreak my device. Weather, Stocks, Calculator and a voice recorder are available on the iPhone, and Apple should add them to the iPad.
  • Zephyr-like gestures sure would be nice. I had Zephyr on my jailbroken iPhone a while back, and I came to really enjoy it. I think it would be a great improvement, on the iPad as well.
  • There was a recent iPad video that went viral last week illustrating an amazing take on text editing improvements. I want that feature built right into the OS so I can use it anywhere I enter text. The idea seems so simple and natural, I really hope the exposure the video received last week caught Apple’s attention, or maybe they already have something more advanced in the works.
  • iPad window-based multitasking. I know, I know, I’m not supposed to use the iPad that way. If I want to have multiple windows open at a time just use the multi-tasking bar and open the next window/app – or buy a laptop, that’s what they’re for. Sorry, that argument just doesn’t fly with me. There are real-life situations in my work flow where having multiple windows open at the same time would be highly advantageous. Plus now with the Retina display on the new iPad, text is sharp and crisp and very easy to see, even if it’s in a smaller window view than what we are typically used to seeing.

PATRICK JORDAN

  • More Choices / Control Over Photos Handling: We should be able to move images from the Camera Roll into albums, not just copy them. The current system where you copy something to an album then find that if you want to delete an image your only choice is to ‘Delete Everywhere’ is way beyond stupid.
  • Easy Services Toggling: This is so, so long overdue. The jailbreak favorite SBSettings has been showing how to do this for years now. It’s stupidly hard to toggle Bluetooth, WiFi, 3G, Location Services and others on and off in iOS. I would easily ditch the brightness slider in the Multitasking Bar if it could be replaced with services toggles. Same goes for the redundant volume adjustment slider.
  • Something, Anything to Make Home Screen & App Organization Easier: I agree with David Chartier – folders is not enough and this needs a more major rethink.
  • Proper Backup and Restore Abilities in iCloud: The current iCloud backup system is better than nothing, but just barely. Restore (except in relation to Apple’s own iWork apps) is an all-or-nothing choice – which again is hugely stupid and nothing like backup and restore is meant to be. We should have more choice on what gets backed up, an ability to name backups, and an ability to do selective restores. [Ed.: Apple needs to take inspiration from Time Machine here!]

New Maps Need to Kick Ass: If all the strong rumors are true and iOS 6 is ditching Google Maps for an in-house Apple solution, then they need to be awesome – at least as good as what Google offered. I’m happy to see the change, as long as we don’t lose functionality or features.

THOMAS WONG

  • Better hardware keyboard support: I’ve said this over and over again, but since we’re nearing a likely preview of iOS 6, it’s time to say it once more. If the iPad really is going to be treated more like a “computer” and not just a “mobile device”, then it needs some decent hardware keyboard support. Spotlight and Home button keys are great, but the iPad could really do with acting more like a desktop OS in certain situations.
  • Take, for example, starting a Spotlight search. You can type the entire search in with your keyboard, but you can’t actually initiate it without lifting a finger off the keys and tapping on the screen. If the iPad were set up better, a simple tap on the “return” key would start the search.
  • The same goes for switching between apps by double-tapping the home button: it’s possible with a Bluetooth keyboard, but you still need to tap on the screen to actually switch between apps.
  • iOS 6 is a fairly connected operating system. There are options to e-mail files and tweet URLs baked right in. However, when it comes to sharing files between apps, iOS can still be woefully outdated. Simple activities, like trying to get a video into Avid Pro or iMovie for editing, are so iTunes-dependent it’s ridiculous. You’d think that dropping an .mov or .m4a file into Avid Pro (under the File Sharing section of the iTunes Apps tab), but that just doesn’t work for the app. Instead, you have to add your video files as “Movies” to iTunes or “Videos” in iPhoto or Aperture, and then sync them to your iOS device that way. Sharing data between iOS 5 apps still isn’t quite where it needs to be either. I understand that Apple wants to abstract the file system, but there really needs to be a way to take a file you’ve made in Garageband and upload that directly to Dropbox. As it is now, I have to export the Garageband song, e-mail it to myself, download the attachment in Mail.app, and then Open it in Dropbox. iOS 6 needs to make these kinds or processes smoother.
  • BRANDON STEILI

    1. The Springboard needs to be more informational. Frankly, compared to Windows Phone or Android, the iOS springboard sucks. iOS has badges. Little red icons with numbers. Whoop-di-do. WP7 has live tiles that can display everything from the weather to your calendar or your family photo album. Android has widgets which can do the same and even interact so the app itself never even needs to launch. Little red dots simply don’t cut it. And don’t get me started with the 12 apps per folder limit.
    2. Thomas mentioned this as well – Abstracting away the filesystem was a novel concept and for many intents it works well. It keeps people further away from the OS layer and more in the app layer which is great for lowering support issues. But the problem is – moving files between apps SUCKS. It’s just flat-out terrible. If an app hasn’t registered as a file handler with the OS you can’t move a file to it from another app OR if your app isn’t coded to share files to other apps you have to go through the hoops Thomas mentioned. Does anyone else get how completely asinine it is that I have to export a file, email it to the web, download it back to my iPad, then open it in another app? WE’RE TALKING AOUT A FILE THAT’S ALREADY ON THE DEVICE! Now, I’m not asking for full fledged file access like Android has (although I enjoy having that) – what I’m asking for is a “shared folder”. A place where every app can save and every app can delete (with user confirmation). Is that so tough? [Ed.: AirDrop, introduced in OS X Lion, could prove to be an interesting solution for this problem on iOS.]
    3. Notification Center Toggles. Wifi, BT, VPN, GPS, Airplane Mode, Data On/Off, Screen Rotation. This is just a user friendliness issue at this point and, frankly, I think Apple has been too stubborn for it’s own good here. SBSettings did this YEARS ago so you can’t tell me Apple can’t figure out an elegant way to do it. Stop making me click through three or four menus just to disable a service. Let me swipe down from the top and disable/enable something so I can get on with my life.
    4. I’m a big boy. I’m frankly tired of Apple telling me what is and is not appropriate for me to access on MY DEVICE. Apple has my details – they know my birthdate, they have my credit card – they know I’m old enough to think for myself. So they can stop filtering what gets presented to me on the device. I understand this is Apple’s walled garden. But at a certain point you’re spending so much time curating and perfecting your little patch of grass, that you start yelling at everyone who walks on it and forget that the whole point of the garden was to share it with others.

    ALICIA

    1) Free Facetime! I love Facetime but I think it needs to meet its true potential as a WhatsApp, BBM killer by accepting users on other platforms. Let the BB, Android and heck, Windows Phone users, in and I think it has the potential to even take over Skype. Seriously. Apple can make this work.

    2) Simplify “Other”

    iOS 5 makes it difficult, if not impossible, to know what the “Other” data that iTunes says is taking up space on your iPad or iPhone. Your best bet at the moment is to go into Usage and check the space taken up, application by application. I’ve done this over and over and over and still cannot figure out what is taking up space. I can only suspect these are attachments on email messages but this theory is not easily corroborated.

    3) I’d like to be able to put Newsstand into a folder. I don’t use it that often ands clogs up my minimalist iPad desktop.

    4) I’d like to see a Smart app/folder organisation by tags, recently used, newly added, last used.

    5) It would be great to have a unified file or document structure. It’s hard to know if I have a doc in Dropbox, Pages or iAnnotate – I’d like to be able to access them quickly. Also it would be good to see if I have duplicates.

    JAY ROTH

    • A useful multitasking tray! Having a double-click on the home button that displays EVERY “recent” app is absurd. After two swipes to the right, it’s no longer useful. Additionally, it adds to the confusion about whether all those are actually still running in the background (which they’re not). This highlights the hope others have expressed with SBSettings jailbreak – a way to see and kill the resource-hogging apps running in the background.
    • I think Apple can also allow a default to help maximize the real estate on the iPhone. How? I like how some apps will “maximize” and cover the top status bar. Why not make that an option in iOS? And even better, when turning landscape, why not have that darn bar disappear? It uses space that could be devoted entering text.
    • First there should be an improvement to notifications that include quiet hours! Many of us use our iDevices 24/7 and having email sounds, Facebook notifications, etc. go off all night long is ridiculous. Yes, most apps can individually be turned off, but it’s an “either/or” setting: either always on or always off. The Silent switch just doesn’t cut it.
    • Next, it’s time to improve the keyboard on the small handhelds. Recently, while driving, I handed my iPhone to a passenger to text for me. As an Android user she tried swiping across the keyboard instead of tapping. “What a novel idea,” thought I. Since I have terrible typing skills on the iPhone, as well as a jailbroken iOS 5.1 iPhone 4S, I located and tried the “Swype” keyboard. It’s pretty sweet. How wonderful if Apple decided to integrate that concept and do it right.

    ALEX JORDAN

    • Improvements to Siri. I love Siri, I think it’s a great feature, even when taking into account its rough edges. In fact, because we’ve been living with the first interation of Siri since it launched last October with the iPhone 4S, it seems that we’re a now excusing some of its shortcomings. I say that honeymoon period is about to run out, and I would very much like to see Apple further develop and improve upon the service with the release of iOS 6. I would love to be able to launch apps, send tweets, update Facebook, and other similar tasks via Siri. Plus, I would love to see Siri make its way to the iPad with the introduction of iOS 6.
    • Improved Built-In Weather App. I would like to see a better built-in weather application. The current weather application was great when it was first introduced, but since the introduction of the App Store, feels passed up by the competition. A great example, to me, of a better user experience, comes from Weather 2x. The weather app is used by a lot of people, and certainly feels due for a significant update.
    • Better Podcast Updating. A better way to download podcasts directly to your iOS device. I subscribe to a number of podcasts, and usually just sync them to my iOS device through iTunes on my computer. However, there have been occassions where I have been on the road and wanted to download the latest episdode of a podcast, tapped on the “Get More Episodes…” link in te Music app, been yanked out of the app and into the iTunes store, and have been presented with a list of episodes. This should work much more smoothly; I’m thinking of a situation similar to how podcats work on iTunes on the Mac/Windows, or perhaps like an in-app purchase on iOS. Surely I’m not the only person that finds this annoying and worthy of a fix. The current method of updating podcasts just seems very inefficient and needs to be changed. [**Ed.: For those who also feel this way, see Instacast.]
    • Reminders Redesign. Although Reminders was a new introduction with iOS 5, it has a less than optimal user interface. It’s ugly and hard to use. If you’re not setting up a reminder via Siri, this app is a muddled mess of buttons to navigate. I doubt a redesign will happen though, as it seems Mountain Lion’s version of Reminders will have a very similar user interface to the iOS version. One can hope though…
    • WebKit Improvements in Safari. Lastly, I would like to see major improvements to the Safari WebKit engine. Granted, most of the limitations to Mobile Safari are due to the lack of raw processing power on mobile devices. That said, I have a feeling there are more optimizations Apple could wring out of WebKit. Some intensely HTML5-based sites feel sluggish on the latest iOS hardware, and I consider this a big weakness as we move into an increasingly web-based future.

    BRANDON KOSAL

    The Most Important

    Notifications need a serious revamp. Apple can be charmingly late to the party when it comes to iOS features. They famously lagged way behind in terms of implementing notifications within the iPhone OS. Once announced, they were met with a collective “whatever.” It’s not that they don’t work – it’s that they could work so much better.

    The spinny box on top has to be rethought, as it becomes a nuisance quite often within certain apps. I’d also love to see icons in the top bar, similar to those of BlackBerry and Android. Next to the time, I’d like to at least see the number of texts, e-mails, and phone calls / voicemails I need to tend to. Customization here is key, as other apps should be able to utilize this function as well.

    The Most Annoying

    Someone at Apple owes us an explanation as to why we can’t hide that pesky Newsstand icon. It makes zero sense whatsoever. There is no excuse for this to not get corrected this time around.

    Somewhat Important

    I’m not suggesting Apple do away with the icons. It’s just that it looks so plain right now. I’m also not asking for a full revamp, but how about some custom folder icons? Widgets to break up the apps a bit? Basically, I want more control over the look of my home screen.

    Somewhat Annoying

    I may be splitting hairs here, but Apple needs to become the leader within the iOS world again. Now, please understand that I prefer iOS over everything else. But a lot of the features and styles that Apple implements feel like, as I said above, they’re late to the party. Examples: Copy & Paste, Notifications, and even MMS for crying out loud. Apple is really great at taking a concept and refining the heck out of it. But as they have also proved time and time again, they’re great at innovating. I’d really like to feel blown away with the new OS.

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    • Good set of ideas. Just to reiterate about the notification dropdown.

      I came from being a long time android user about a month ago. As an android user, you live by the notification dropdown. On ISO I hardly ever use it, simply because there is nothing tell me about it – even though there could be loads of stuff needing your attention.

      Take this example. you leave your phone for 5mins and get a Missed call, voice message, a text and a couple of reminders sound an alert. You pick your phone up, switch the screen on and its all there to see – brilliant. Now, unlock and return your call. Upon locking the screen again, those notifications do not re-arm, they are just sat in the notification dropdown festering.

    • Chris

      most of the notification features that people want for apple are probably android patents. so in making their notification better would cause apple a problem. Same goes for widgets i don’t think apple wants to infringe on anything that would cause the iPhone to be delayed.

    • FlyerSG

      SMS delivery receipts, please. Every other mobile phone on the planet has it, but not Iphone. Embarassing if they don’t put it into IOS 6 finally.