Tuesday, February 19, 2013

In Depth: iOS 7: 12 things we want to see

In Depth: iOS 7: 12 things we want to see

In Depth: iOS 7: 12 things we want to see

The latest major update for Apple's mobile devices, the iPad, iPhone and iPod touch, was mostly hit, but with a Maps-shaped miss.

Lots of people were rightly angry about Apple ditching Google data, but beyond that mis-step there were things to like: a more useful Siri (App launching plus the recognition that a world exist s outside of the USA), shared Photo Streams, handy Phone app controls such as 'send to voicemail', and major improvements to Mail, Safari, accessibility and the Camera app.

But regardless of what Apple achieves, it's never really enough. As soon as you've sat there playing with the latest iOS, ideas pop into your head regarding what you'd like to see next. This article explores a dozen of the features we're clamouring to see in iOS 7. (And by 'clamouring', we of course mean 'asking really nicely'. C'mon, Mr Cook - pretty please?)

1. Hide Apple apps

Pretty much everyone we know with an Apple device has a folder entitled 'Apple'. This isn't filled with must-have apps from the geniuses at Cupertino, but all the junk Apple installs that you can't get rid off. To be fair, what each individual considers junk is different, and these appsâ€"Compass, Stocks, Voice Memos, Passbook, and so onâ€"have their fans; but is it too much to ask for a switch in Settings that will hide those we don't use?

Hide Apple apps

2. Better app management

Change for change's sake is rarely a good thing. Recognition is key to satisfying experiences with technology. That's why we're not yelling at Apple to change how iOS home screens work. What we would like to see is improvements to app management: more screens; by default saving app data on delete; and an alphabetical list of installed apps, perhaps accessible from Spotlight.

3. Change app defaults

We're pretty certain this request would be met with wide-eyes from Apple CEO Tim Cook, swiftly followed by a full twenty minutes of belly laughing, but we want the ability to use non-default apps for important things like email and calendaring. Apple's own apps would remain the defau lts, but you should also be able to pick your own in Settings.

Want a browser other than Safari as your default? Maybe in iOS 7

4. Provide a guest account

It's extremely unlikely that Apple's ever going to enable multiple user accounts on iOS devicesâ€"they are, after all, designed as extremely personal computers. What is perhaps more realistic is some kind of guest account you could switch to when handing your device over to someone for a short while; something similar already exists on the Mac in OS X.

5. Change Siri's voice

OS X is blessed with dozens of high-quality voices that witter away to you in various dulcet tones. By contrast, Siri is Siri. In the US, you get a slightly robotic woman; in the UK, Siri's that bloke who did The Weakest Link for a decade. It'd be great if you could choose the voice your device uses to speak. (Possible exception: Yoda voice.)

6. Provide App Store demos

Apps and games might be cheap, but that doesn't figure cheapskates into the equation. Too often, people are unwilling to risk 69p on the latest release, forcing devs into irritating freemium models or making them clutter up the App Store with 'lite' versions of their output. Apple should just allow demos: 24 hours from first launch and then you buy or the app won't run. Boom.

7. Power up 'Do Not Disturb'

Fed up of getting woken up in the middle of the night by the marketing efforts of [redacted, but quite possibly a well-known mobile network] or Game Center fanfares? Do Not Disturb is a great feature that enables you to time when your phone will quit bugging you. But you can define only a single schedule, and we want to see alternative options for weekends.

Do Not Disturb: a great start, but it needs separate settings for weekends

8. Make locking location-aware

Locking is a great thing on iOS devices, making it at least a little harder for some scallywag to get at your data if they pinch your shiny Apple joy. But it could be more intelligent, locking on a location-aware basis, and not when you're, say, happily sitting at home on the sofa.

9. Improve the lock screen

There's something to be said for Apple's minimalism regarding the iOS lock screen, and it's mostly that it's too minimal. We're not sure we want to see Android-style widgets sprayed everywhere, but a little more functionality wouldn't go amiss. For example, artwork from a currently playing song is displayed on the lock screen, but there are no c ontrols for pausing or skipping to the next track, until you double-press Home, which isn't hugely discoverable. And beyond notifications, nothing else shows up there at all.

The lock screen, showing currently playing audio which we can't pause

10 Cut all iTunes ties

In recent years, Apple's made great leaps away from iTunes, and you can technically get away with never using the monstrous jukebox. However, there's still no way to easily get your existing music collection nor your photographs on to your device, and there should be. (Alas, with Apple wanting to push iTunes Match and the iTunes Store, there almost certainly never will be for the first of those.)

11. Make more icons dynamic

We're hesitant at arguing Apple's home scree n icons should be more like Windows 8 tiles, but there's something to be said for dynamic updates when such things work well. With iOS, you get update badges and a live calendar. It'd be nice at the least if Apple made its own Clock and Weather icons dynamic.

The calendar shows the date, but why can't other icons be this useful?

12. Enable cross-platform installs

On a device, you now often see iOS-style banners on websites that when tapped take you right to the equivalent App Store app. But if you're browsing elsewhere, you have to email yourself a reminder and then install later. How good would it be if you were surfing on your PC, saw a great app and could install it across your devices without going near them, nor even to iTunes?

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//PART 2