Apple announced the iPhone and its respective operating system in January of 2007. Since then, it has undergone four major updates and countless smaller ones. While the latest iteration, iOS 5, boasted hundreds of new features, the overall look and feel of the OS has hardly changed.
For the most part, the interface has stayed the same. Sure, you can set a wallpaper and create folders now. But that's the extent of the home screen features (save for rearranging icons, of course). And despite being a very well-polished operating system, there are quite a few areas that are still reminiscent of 2007 – dated, archaic, inefficient.
In iOS 5, Apple introduced an updated notification system dubbed Notification Center. The obtrusive, in-your-face pop-ups are no more, and the Android-like pull-down shade serves as a universal destination for all of your notifications. But it's neither intuitive or very useful, and the pop-up, which now shows at the top of the display, is still somewhat obtrusive. Notifications are just one of many rough areas of iOS.
With a new iPad already out and another iPhone months ahead, another major update (likely iOS 6) is presumed to be coming, too. Back in February, I suggested it was time for Apple to truly refresh iOS, that it was time to streamline the OS with 2012 and bring it up to speed. Among other things, I suggested a new home screen that consists of more than just folders and icons, better multitasking capabilities, even more improvements to the notification system and a more intuitive Settings app.
And I'm not the only one who thinks so. That particular article garnered quite the response from iOS fans. Some argued that the changes I suggested would make it too much like Android (which isn't necessarily a bad thing), and others agreed, telling some of their ongoing gripes with the platform.
As the next major update approaches, even more people are chiming in on the matter. Michael Grothaus of AOL's TUAW wrote his 15 suggestions for iOS 6. Those 15 suggestions are as follows:
- Expand Siri's capabilities and open up the Siri API
- Multiple users (on iPad)
- Facebook integration
- Auto-hide an empty Newsstand
- Multitasking gestures for iPhone
- Improved Notification Center
- Weather, Stocks, and Clock for iPad
- AirDrop for iOS
- Quick access to toggle Bluetooth, WiFi, and 3G on and off
- Universal passcode locks for apps
- Multiple signatures in Mail
- Safari Top Sites
- Ability to select default mail, calendar, and Twitter clients
- Styled Text APIs
- Improved cursor navigation
Many of those I can agree with wholly, while some of them don't make a difference to me at all. I would love to have the option of a guest mode, yet I can't remember the last time I wish I had Siri on my iPad. And that empty Newsstand icon is an eyesore and needs to go. I think we all would like a better Notification Center, quick access toggles for settings, multiple signatures in Mail and the improved iOS text editing concept we saw last week.
I have been using a new iPad for nearly a week now, and while the software is much better than it was on the original iPad and iPad 2, there are quite a few things I would love to see improved. For one, the interface needs to be optimized for the larger display. Sure, the iPhone's interface needs a face-lift. But the extra space on the iPad display could be used for so much more than just icons and folders. Apple seems interested in merging the OS X experience with iOS, so why not make if feel a bit more desktop-esque?
I would also like to see a scalable keyboard. Currently, there are three modes: landscape, portrait and split. The landscape keyboard is a great size for typing when the device is propped on a tablet. I find the portrait keyboard almost useless. And the split keyboard is very handy. (I love the fact that it isn't permanently docked to the bottom of the display.) But it's almost too small. It could stand to be just slightly bigger. Being able to stop at any size during the split keyboard gesture would be nice.
Lastly, I will admit I love the gestures for multitasking on the iPad. In fact, I don't think I ever use the home button anymore ... ever. But multitasking on the iPad isn't simultasking, it's still just task switching. Last week, however, there was a jailbreak mod called Quasar that brought a desktop-like window manager to iPad apps. You can resize, move, close the apps, or you can opt to make them full-screen. It's how I've envisioned apps to run on tablets (iOS and Android) since day one.
I'm sure I could nitpick at iOS all day. The same goes for Windows Phone, Android, BlackBerry, webOS, etc. But there are some major improvements that could be brought to Apple's mobile platform, and it's in dire need of a refresh already. The odds of any of this happening are actually pretty slim. But, hey, a man can dream, right?
Tell me, ladies and gents. How would you change iOS if you could? What new features would you include in iOS 6? A better application/window management system? Better notifications? Guest mode? Sound off below!