Now that all the preliminary iPad 2 hype is out of the way we’d like to take a little time to discuss our hopes and dreams for iOS5 – Apple’s next instalment of their iOS operating system.
There’s no doubt that back in 2007 when Apple debuted the retrospectively titled iPhone 2G they revolutionised the mobile phone industry on a global scale. Their iOS interface and capacitive touchscreen technology were simply outstanding when compared to anything that had come before and have since become the basis on which almost every major smartphone label is built.
Unfortunately Apple, as far as its operating system goes, seems to have just left it at that. Since 2007 there have been almost no massive overhauls or additions to the iOS user interface. Many people have no problem with this, adopting an “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” mentality. But in an industry driven by innovation and ingenuity that simply isn’t going to cut it for much longer.
Yes, with iOS4 Apple added the ability to create and manage folders as well as some limited ‘multi-tasking’ functionality. But when compared to the progress of its major competitors these changes can be described as minor at best.
Take the Google Android OS for instance. In just the past 3 years Android has come from a limited, fledgling operating system to a fast, capable and hugely functional platform on which a huge proportion of the world’s smartphones are based. It has done this by instigating massive changes across the board every year and now, in many ways, boasts superior capabilities to the iOS format.
Apple is due to announce their next instalment of iOS – iOS5 – within the next few months. We’d love Apple to make some changes to their UI and basic OS in order to bring them back in to line with Android.
As such we’ve made a short wish list of our personal hopes for iOS5.
iOS 5 Wish List
Here’s an example of something Android phones have been capable of since the Android 2.2 ‘Froyo’ update. Instead of using Apple’s signature white umbilical cord, it would be great to finally be able to sync an iPhone with a desktop without searching around for a cable.
More lock screen info
Currently on a locked iPhone there’s very little information to be gained without first unlocking it. With so much screen revenue there’s really no reason Apple can’t show us almost every bit of relevant info before we bother unlocking. Missed calls, texts, emails and just about every form of notification could easily fit on to one screen.
It might look a little cluttered but who cares? It’s a locked screen; it’s not like it’s being used. The notifications can peel away the instant you unlock the device. But it would be nice to pull an iPhone out of a pocket and immediately know everything that’s going on without having to first activate the device.
Improved alert system
The iPhone alert system is something that hasn’t changed for a very long time (long in phone terms anyway). Frankly our beef with the iOS alert system is that it’s intrusive. Games are paused or even closed when an alert is received, web-surfing is halted and just about all other functionality ceases until you choose to either view the alert or ignore it. Unfortunately ignoring something which has abruptly stopped you in the middle of whatever you’re doing can be difficult at the best of times. Personally I find that there’s nothing more annoying than being engrossed in a book and suddenly being ripped back to reality by an obnoxious alert.
Suggestions? Android (yes, Android again) has, on many of its devices, institute an alert system that notifies you immediately, no matter what you’re doing, without halting any processes. A simple drop-down bar appears with an alert, the user is given the option of tapping the alert for a certain amount of time, after which the bar neatly goes back to wherever drop-downs go when they’re not on the clock. This is a fantastic solution to an annoying problem.
There really isn’t any purpose served in pausing a phone just to tell me it’s my go in “Words With Friends” or that I’m passing through a Wi-Fi enabled area. Yes I can turn off the Wi-Fi alerts and I have. But we shouldn’t have to choose between “stops whatever I’m doing” and “nothing”. Give us something in between.
Better organisation options for the UI
This is really only a minor concern but now that smartphones are gaining acceptance as portable computers rather than phones-with-extra-stuff the average amount of apps on any device is increasing. As such Apple’s tile layout is starting to look a little cluttered.
Yes you can make folders, which is a smart addition. But it would have a few options for the UI such as having a home screen with all your important day-to-day stuff and a more compact area for other things. The BlackBerry OS makes use of both horizontal and vertical scrolling to achieve this. No, we don’t believe the BlackBerry OS is superior to iOS, it’s actually inferior in many ways. But there’s no reason Apple can’t look around at its competitors and recognise where they are strong and it is weak.
It’s ok to look elsewhere for inspiration every once in a while. Android certainly did it with its original UI layout (that was basically copied straight from the iPhone) and it’s now more popular in the US than iOS. Perhaps Apple could just bite the bullet for once and admit that someone else might have had a good idea.
This is just a small addition to the wish list. We’d love to see iPhones gain the ability to stream music wirelessly via their iTunes account. Apple has an immense media distribution system already set up in iTunes so it would be great to be able to access it wherever possible.
Streaming music or even other forms of media wirelessly to a handset would be a step in the right direction. Any music bought through iTunes really should be available to you wherever you are, even if you haven’t downloaded the specific files to your phone.
We’re not suggesting Apple build some kind of massive database in which they have to store every file you’ve ever downloaded just in case you need to get access to it, but Android found a way to accomplish this feat, once again back in the Froyo update.
Flash compatibility is one of the biggest griefs around these days with the Apple OS, specifically the lack there-of. So much of today’s online content is in Flash and it’s a pity that iPhone users have to resort to 3rd partyapps to gain access to it.
Frankly Flash compatibility in phones, as it stands today, is still limited in one major way; it considerably slows down browsing speed and makes for a somewhat jerky online experience.
An option for Flash compatibility would be smart, despite Steve Jobs’ apparent loathing of the concept, but we’d like to see an option to turn it off and on. That way anyone who values speed over Flash content won’t have their browsing hampered by annoying pop-ups and advertisements.
So there you have it; our iOS 5 update whishlist. Feel free to tell us yours, or to make any additions/suggestions for ours.
We definitely don’t think Apple’s in any immediate trouble of losing market supremacy if it doesn’t change its ways. iOS 4.3 is still a great operating system and definitely gets the job done. However, it would be nice to see a refreshing new look from this company that apparently prides itself on innovation, especially in this area that they seem to have somewhat neglected for a little too long.