5 things I want to see in iOS 5
With all the rumors that iOS 5 is going to be a major revamp, including features like digital lockers, cloud storage and AI voice control, the next version of Apple's iPhone and iPad operating system is sure to knock our socks off. It may even include things we never knew we always needed. However, here are five of my humble wishes for iOS 5:
1. Notifications: Everyone knows notifications need a major overhaul in the next iOS. They really haven't been tweaked since iOS launched in 2007. While the iPhone is arguably the best smartphone on the market, its notification system is perhaps the worst of all. There are plenty of ways Apple could go with a notification redesign, but I'm hoping at the very least it includes a new lock screen featuring notifications (with the ability to disable them on the lock screen for privacy purposes), then use the very valuable screen real estate, which is currently entirely dedicated to Spotlight searching. There is so much space on that screen, Apple can easily divide it up between a notifications center and Spotlight search.
2. Weather app: This is probably not on anyone's list but mine, but I want to see a feature-added Weather app. I'm not even talking about any advanced stuff; all I really want is to be able to rotate the iPhone into landscape mode while in the Weather app and see an hourly forecast. Like notifications, the Weather app hasn't changed since the first version of iOS, and I don't think asking for an hourly breakdown is beyond Apple's technological skills. It would also be nice for the Weather app to be location aware, with one default weather screen always showing your current location's weather.
3. Safari Top Sites: This isn't so much a feature I'd like to see on the iPhone, but I think it would rock on the iPad. Ever since Apple introduced Top Sites for Safari on the Mac, I've used them as my primary way of getting to my favorite sites. I love how they give me a graphical representation of when a site has new content on it, and it's much better for the layperson than RSS readers. Enabling Top Sites in Mobile Safari would make it much easier for users to navigate to their favorite sites and know when those sites have new content (something web clip icons can't do).
4. File Management: It was nice when Apple added drag-and-drop file management to iTunes last year, which allowed users to easily drop a file into Pages or GoodReader, for example. However, Apple needs one central location where users can keep files on an iOS device -- one that allows any app on the device to access those files and save a different version of that file to the same central location. Right now I can add a PDF to GoodReader, then in GoodReader, I can select to open that PDF in iBooks, but once that file is open in iBooks, I can't save it back to GoodReader. iOS needs one location where all apps can open and save compatible files. Call it the "Finder" app if you want. I am not suggesting that Apple make an overly complicated file management system on iOS. Keep music in the iPod/Music app, photos in the Photos app and videos in the Video/iPod app -- just make sure all documents and project files are stored in one simple location.
5. Wireless file transfers between devices: This relates to the file management system I proposed. While it would be great to be able to plug your iOS device into iTunes and drag-and-drop all your files into the new central Finder app, it would be even more amazing if Apple could build a rich user interface into iOS and Mac OS X 10.7 that allows you to effortlessly, and wirelessly, drag-and-drop files between Mac and iOS devices. For example, when my iPhone is placed next to my computer, it would automatically show up in the Finder in Lion. I could then take any file and drag it onto the iPhone icon; on my iPhone, I would see an icon representation of that file slide onto the screen and shrink down into the Finder app. I'd also like to see the reverse: open the Finder app and drag my files from it to an icon representing my Mac running Lion. To be clear, I'm not talking about wireless syncing -- that would take too much battery power. But a graphically rich way to quickly transfer files wirelessly between iOS devices or iOS device and computer would be awesome.
Bonus -- Styled Text APIs: This is something I hope Apple implements in iOS 5 for developers' sakes. While there are many great word processors available for iOS, Pages on the iPad is still the best. Why? Because it's got an incredibly rich set of styled text features. Apple hasn't made the styled text APIs used in Pages available to developers, so if developers do want to use styled text in their apps, they basically need to write all that code from scratch. If Apple decides to open up the styled text APIs used in Pages to other developers, we'll see some great productivity apps coming out later this year.
So, these are my humble suggestions. I'd love to hear what you guys want to see in iOS 5. Let me know in the comments!