iOS 5 Wishlist

For all that I like about iOS, there is much that I feel can be improved or enhanced. While I am sure Apple is working on many of them, I do hope that iOS 5 provides us with many of the following:

  • A Notification System

If you watch iPhone users, you will see a familiar pattern. They pull out their iPhone, press the home button, swipe their finger. Now they are either looking at the last app they had been in before, or they are looking at their app icons. Maybe, they see an alert notifying them of missed calls or voicemails. You’ll see them quickly tap on a few apps, check to see what’s new and then re-lock the phone. A tedious process with too many repetitive steps. There is no good, quick way to know:

    • How many e-mails have come in (and from whom)
    • Which apps have issued push notifications – usually only the last app that does so has an alert on the screen before you unlock the phone
    • Apps that have red numbers signifying notifications are sprinkled throughout many screens of apps so to know if there is a notification, it requires flipping through a number of screens
    • Apps that show their notification number on their badge don’t differentiate between new push notifications and old ones, so if you hadn’t handled an apps push notifications yesterday, and were looking at it today, you would not know how many of those notifications were new

I’d really like to see a new notification system that, at a glance, can show me push notifications from apps that I have selected as priority apps – say e-mail, phone and text, IM and FaceBook and Twitter, and a news site or networked game, and see which of those require immediate attention. Where would I put this information? I would make this the lock screen.

In other words, you pull out your iPhone, tap the home button, and there on the lock screen you see the priority apps that you have selected, giving you a summary of what needs attention.

From there, maybe provide an easy UI to select any of those apps, and swipe (maybe you swipe from a central spot to an app icon, or from the app icon to one side of the screen) and you immediately unlock the iPhone and enter that app.

If you are already in an unlocked state, maybe the first page of the home screen is this notification center, with shortcuts to launch your important apps and/or all the others with notifications. Swipe left from there and you get to the search screen, and swipe right to start paging through all your apps.

  • A system-wide share mechanism. The purpose of this would be to allow you to share any share-able item, from within any app, to your FaceBook, Twitter, to e-mail, any configured web destinations, etc. The beauty of this would be that you would configure all the sharing destinations and options in a system Settings panel; which sites, like FaceBook, Twitter, Shutterfly, Google +1… so that when you are in any app and wish to share a photo, a bit of text, a URL, a game score, a tweet, a video, a voicemail, a phone contact… then you just tap a button, get a screen full of share destination, tap that and not worry about authenticating or entering any URLs. This removes the need for developers to all try to reinvent the same wheel and creates a nice consistency and expectation for end-users.
  • Better text editing capabilities

Text editing on the iPad and especially the iPhone, is a bear. Despite how much amazing work has gone into this, the user experience is lacking and it is only mitigated if you have an external keyboard. And the reason I mention the keyboard isn’t why you’d think. What the external keyboards have that the onscreen doesn’t are the cursor keys. Using the cursor keys, you can quickly locate yourself exactly where you need to insert your editing. And using the shift key, you can actually fine-tune a selection of text. Trying doing that with you fingers, and you’ll see that much time is wasted. Especially trying to select text that is off screen or close to the edges, where the artificial magnifier has trouble doing the right thing. And if you just happen to slightly move when lifting your finger, then you’ve got to do it all over again.

There probably is enough space to add the four arrow keys to the keyboard on the iPad. The iPhone is a different story. Possibly there could be a single button that puts the phone into cursor moving mode, and one can then tilt the phone ever-so-slightly to move the cursor. And hold the shift key and your tilting would end up extending the selection of text. I’ll have to see this in practice though – I am one of those who is not a big fan of shaking the phone to undo.

Here is a simple change, and one that is sorely needed. Allow the combination of shift-backspace to perform a forward-delete. Easy. In fact, use the shift key in more situations.

  • More support for apps that need to do stuff in the background, especially when the phone is locked. Push notification is one thing. Being able to download content is another. I don’t know about you, but I have often found myself in a situation (like on a plane or out of the service area) where I see that I have a notification for new e-mail, but entering the mail app doesn’t show me any new e-mails. The problem is that when the phone was online and got the push notification, it did not get a chance to download the e-mail, unless the e-mail app was running (in the foreground). Apps, especially e-mail, should be allowed to use idle time to download what it needs rather to hold me up when I launch the app. Many times I have wanted to deal with e-mails once on the plane with much time, but realized that I hadn’t actually downloaded the messages, and couldn’t until the plane was back down on the ground.
  • Safari should have a mode where I can continue reading a page while it downloads another one in the background. Say I am reading a website with links to another website. If I tap on a link, don’t transport me out of that original website and make me wait until the new link is open. Leave me where I was, where I can possibly continue reading, and when the other link is ready, then take me there.

~ by mz on May 12, 2011.

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