iOS 8: 10 things we want to see
10th Feb 2014 | 15:01
Many think iOS 7 is good. We think it can be even better.
When Apple unveiled iOS 7, CEO Tim Cook called it the "biggest change since the iPhone". The OS received a major visual and interaction overhaul, along with a slew of new features.
One clue as to what will be on offer in iOS 8 came in the form of an Apple Maps patent, which would see new interactive layers applied to the dogged Maps app.
We've also heard a lot of chatter about Healthbook, an app that Apple is supposedly readying to come pre-installed in iOS 8. Word is that the app will monitor and store fitness information like steps taken, miles walked and weightloss etc. Does that mean it could play nicely with the iWatch?
Still, there are many other things we'd like to see Apple change by the time iOS 8 rolls around later in 2014 - although in some cases we've gpt a sneaking suspicion Apple would disagree.
1. Change and hide default iOS apps
We'd love to be able to choose non-Apple alternatives for handling email, browsing and maps, but doubt it'll happen. However, Apple not providing the means to hide preinstalled apps you don't use is an irritant that goes back to the very first iPhone.
Even if there was a similar 'parental controls' trick for hiding apps to the one on the Apple TV, that'd be good enough.
2. A guest/child account
Apple's mantra is everyone should own their own device. That's lovely, but not everyone's pockets are as deep as those of Apple board members.
OS X-style user accounts are unlikely, but it can't be beyond Apple to provide a single-tap child account or a guest account that doesn't affect your settings and data, and doesn't retain settings or data of its own.
3. Better iOS app management
As of iOS 7, Apple automates app updates, but it should go further. Devs wrestle with iCloud app data, but this should be child's play to save and also (optionally) restore whenever you reinstall an app.
And the App Store itself should offer trials and paid version updates (rather than devs being forced to use IAP or 'replacement' apps as a workaround).
4. Stronger inter-app communications
One of the weakest elements of iOS is inter-app communication. If a service bumps you to another app, you're not always returned when you've finished performing an action.
Worse, when making document edits across several apps workflow can be a nightmare with document copies in various states strewn throughout individual app sandboxes.
5. Better document management
Following on from the previous point, iOS should introduce at least some kind of centralised access to documents. Right now, Dropbox is a surrogate file system because iCloud is a bunch of silos.
It's absurd that you can't easily attach documents within Mail in an OS that boasts a version number of 7. The lack of collaboration opportunities within iCloud document workflow is also disappointing.
6. Group FaceTime calls
This isn't specifically tied to iOS, but Apple's mobile platform is where FaceTime began life, and although the one-to-one model is great, it's about time you could call several people at once, rather than a group having to crowd around an iPhone.
7. iOS notifications like in OS X Mavericks
In OS X Mavericks, notifications are interactive - get a message and you can deal with it there and then, rather than leaving the app you're in. This is even more important on iOS, and so we hope Apple adds similar functionality on mobile. Google does it with aplomb, so we want to see the same here.
8. More Do Not Disturb options
Do Not Disturb gained extra power in iOS 7, enabling you to silence notifications only when a device is locked. Bizarrely, it still retains only a single schedule though. Is it beyond Apple to enable you to at least set one for weekdays and a separate one for weekends?
9. Better text manipulation
Apple's text-selection, cut, copy and paste seemed elegant when it was introduced, but only compared to disastrous equivalents on competing mobile systems.
Today, it comes across as awkward, and it's a barrier to usability for far too many people. We'd like to see a rethink from Apple and more usable and intuitive ways of dealing with text.
10. Two-up apps
We love the focus iOS provides, but there are times when we'd like to work with two apps at once. Much like messing with default apps, we doubt Apple will ever go down this path, but OS X Mavericks now has a more powerful full-screen mode for multiple monitors.
So there's perhaps the slightest hope a multi-screen mode might one day arrive for the iPad or a larger iPhone, and would be one in the eye for all those Samsung owners out there.