• Opinion: What iOS Still Needs

    iOS 6 is just around the corner and unless Tim & Scott have some surprises in store for us at the rumoured September launch event, the feature list is pretty much public knowledge by now. Things like Apple Maps, Passbook and Facebook integration are welcome improvements, but they are - to borrow a phrase - evolutionary rather than revolutionary.

    iOS needs a big remodel in a few key areas. Not just a fresh coat of paint, but a total reimagining. Here's a couple of them.

    App Management
    The courts have ruled that Apple owns the patent on grids of rectangular app icons. The problem with it is that it's not really very friendly or useful. Most of us have quite a few apps (a 2011 report puts it at 60 apps per iPhone user - if you're reading this, it's a safe bet your number is quite a bit higher ) and folders can do only so much to mitigate the spread of apps across many pages. You can manage apps (among many other things) via iTunes, but it's a fairly clunky affair; Apple have even ported the paradigm to OS X in the form of Launchpad (about which the less said, the better).

    iOS needs an alternative app management system. Grids and folders are a pain that no amount of Spotlight searching can fix. WP7's alphabetical list of apps is both cleaner and not artificially constrained in terms of label space, but the best fix might actually come from OS X: folders in the Dock offer the option of displaying their contents in a couple of different ways. Why not offer iOS users a choice as well?

    Sharing & Services
    One area where Android is still superior to iOS is interaction between apps. There's a system-wide Share menu that apps can make use of to send data between apps, whether that's sending a link from Plume to Pocket or sending a location from Maps to Facebook. OS X has offered Services since the beginning, even if it is under-utilised - there's really no excuse for not offering a system-wide, third-party-accessible sharing option in iOS.

    Lockscreen Info
    An ever-scrolling list of notifications is not a substitute for a proper lockscreen. Windows Mobile 6 managed this, and it's unfathomable that Apple haven't worked out that people want this. Whenever I jailbreak, LockInfo is the first thing I install.

    The good news for Apple is that after five years and as many operating system revisions, there's still lots of room for improvement. The bad news for us is that we'll be waiting at least a year for it.
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