iOS 6 was sort of a mixed bag from Apple. While it included many appreciated under-the-hood improvements, additional iCloud features and Facebook integration, Maps came under public scrutiny (and has been deemed a failure by most tech writers) and Passbook hasn’t quite taken off yet. Since its release, Scott Forstall has left the company and Jony Ive, Apple’s industrial designer behind the aluminum of the MacBook lineup and the simplicity of the iPhone and iPad designs, has taken over as the leader of the company’s development of user interfaces. Put simply, this means big change is coming in the design of Apple’s software. We’re hoping iOS 7 has Jony Ive’s fingers all over it: powerful and easy-to-use software with great design at its core, like the iPhone’s beautiful exterior. Here are ten things we’d like to see in iOS 7.
1. A Facelift
Apple caught some flack with iOS 6 for introducing apps like Passbook with skeuomorphism. Skeuomorphism is a design technique that embraces real-world analogues in digital mediums; for example; the built-in Calendar app on iPhone and iPad looks like a real-world calendar with leather stitching. When you delete a card in Passbook, you may have noticed it gets put through a digital shredder. These kinds of gimmicks aren’t necessary and are simply that: gimmicks. Some skeuomorphism is good (like the page flips in iBooks), but some aren’t needed (like the grey stitching present throughout iOS) or are often related to out-of-date real-world items young people using iPhones don’t even recognize (like the tape deck in Apple’s Podcast app). Hopefully Jony Ive can make these apps’ designs a little more tasteful.
2. The Ability to Change Apple’s Default Apps
Since the iPhone’s introduction, Apple has made it impossible to change any of the defaults that it ships with. If you want to open a link in an email, it will open in mobile Safari. Tapping an address will always open Apple Maps, and tapping on a time will always open Calendar. We think it might be time to let this go. There are no real benefits to Apple locking people into their first-party apps, and opening up the doors to third-party developers encourages friendly competition. It would also allow us to finally set Google Maps as our default backseat driver and fully relegate Apple Maps to that “Useless Apps” folder we all keep on our last homepage. With that in mind, we’d also like to see…
3. The Ability to Hide Apple Apps
It’s not that all the apps the iPhone and iPad ship with are useless, but not all of us are wilderness explorers who need Compass on a daily basis. Contacts is built right into the Phone app (and maybe some of us don’t even us the Phone app for voice calling). Some people hate Newsstand, others will never try Reminders and instead opt for a third-party solution like Omnifocus or Things, and still some people just want to kill off the Stocks app or Apple Maps. If they’re going to let us change the default apps, they should really let us remove them too.
4. Mail Improvements
After all these years, enterprise users are still looking for a better email app for iOS. To be fair to them, not only does it not really exist, but there aren’t any third-party apps that really do what they’re looking for. For some people, Mail needs to make important email even more accessible and easier to reply to. Real multitasking would help with the situation, but the bottom line is that enterprise owners need faster and easier pop-ups for calendars and better ways to use Mail to invite people to meetings and coordinate people. If Apple wants to capture what’s left of the Blackberry crowd, enterprise solutions and better Outlook support is where they should move next.
5. Increase the 50mb Download Limit Over LTE
When the iPhone 5 finally got LTE, many people were so thrilled that some of them likely would have paraded in the streets. But LTE means nothing if you get hit with an annoying pop-up notification that tells you the app you want to download is too large (over 50mb). It can be really frustrating to have to download an app you need over WiFi when it could have made your life a whole lot easier when you were out and about. With today’s Retina screens, apps keep getting larger and larger. Apple needs to increase the download limit to make using the App Store more convenient on the road for iPhone users and people with LTE-connected iPads.
6. Allow Multiple Apple ID’s on One Device
My parents each have their own iTunes account. Right now, that means they each have to have their own devices if they want to listen to music they download from iTunes. It’s not such a huge problem for them each to have their own iPod, but if they were to ever purchase an iPad, they would never be able to decide whose account gets synced up to it and who’s really in charge of the device. If Apple were to allow one iPad to have multiple users, not unlike OS X or Android, this wouldn’t be a problem. The only trick for Apple is to make logging in and out of an iPad as easy as possible. We think they’re up for that challenge.
7. Passbook Improvements (calendar sync and working with Siri)
Passbook holds so much promise. It caused a lot of stir when it was released in iOS 6 last year as Apple’s take on the digital wallet. Even without NFC capabilities, Passbook can still be a powerful tool. It’s just a shame right now that it feels under-utilized in iOS. Siri can’t cooperate with it, and Passbook doesn’t play nice with Calendar. If I purchase a movie ticket, it would be nice if the digital ticket in Passbook created a correlated event in Calendar, complete with an optional alarm to remind me to head out. And wouldn’t it be fantastic if Siri could tell us what Fandango tickets were sitting in our digital wallets?
8. Better App Management
iOS is starting to mature and just needs a little push to truly start becoming as powerful as our desktop computers. One easy way to get iOS where it needs to be is to make app organization more powerful. Allow us to sort them alphabetically (a basic feature in Android) or to place them wherever we like on our home screen, just like we can on a desktop. And wouldn’t it be fantastic if we could put more than a dozen apps in a single folder? Allow folders-within-folders for the overly-organized or simply provide folders with never-ending scroll functionality.
9. Better File Management
When it works (which is most of the time), iCloud is great. Reliable cloud-based storage that just works is a necessity if you’re working with multiple computers, tablets, and phones every day. But Apple’s file management system in iCloud is a little bizarre. Instead of allowing users to choose what app to open a file with, users are left to choose an app to associate a file with. If I write something in iA Writer, I can’t open it in Pages despite the fact that they both use the same file architecture. It’s a bizarre way to sort files, and it would be nice iCloud behaved a little more similarly to Dropbox and allowed you to open files with whatever app you wanted instead of whatever app you created them with.
10. Improved Multi-tasking
Multi-tasking has never been Apple’s strongest playing card on the iPhone, but it’s also not as terrible as some people make it out to be. What it’s really missing are power-user features. Some people have proposed that the multi-tasking tray should include more information than it already does, but the problem is simply that it simply does not show enough recent apps. Instead of one row of four apps, Apple should allow users to see two at the very minimum—especially on the 4” screen on the iPhone 5. And how come we still can’t multitask in landscape mode? We don’t think little refinements like that are too much to ask, especially since multi-tasking has been left untouched since its introduction in iOS 4.