If you own an iPad, you’re probably still enjoying all that iOS 4.2 gave (and lamenting what it took away), but the rest of us are already looking ahead to the future and dreaming of what the next major revision of iOS might bring.


Let’s be honest: iOS 4.2.1 only really mattered to iPad owners who were just aching for a bit of that good old multitaskin’, folder-makin’ magic. If you own an iPad, you’re probably still enjoying all that the latest upgrade gave (and lamenting what it took away), but the rest of us are already looking ahead to the future and dreaming of what the next major revision of iOS might bring.

So here are the 10 features I’m hoping for in iOS 5, listed in no particular order:

1. Wireless Sync

Honestly, I think we’ve waited long enough for this one. It is a monumental pain to have to connect my iPhone to my Mac using something as old-fashioned and undignified as a cable. C’mon Apple, we’re already living in the future; provide a sync solution that matches up with the rest of our reality.

2. A Useful Lock Screen

I once owned a Windows Mobile phone, back when the iPhone didn’t exist, and a BlackBerry was exotic and exciting. It was a mostly awful device, but it did have one great thing: a really useful lock screen. I didn’t need to unlock the device to see the time, date, the day’s upcoming appointments and tasks, or know if I had missed a call or had unread messages. It even told me the local weather. That was in 2005.

3. Improved Mail

By far the most-used feature of my iPhone is Mail. It’s an almost perfect mail-triage tool. Two things that will make it even better: flags and much-improved attachment handling. The former needs no explanation; if you spend a lot of time in email, you know priority flags are essential.

The latter is something that causes me constant grief; why can’t I save an attachment without needing a third-party app to handle it first? I’m not asking for anything as unholy as a File System, but a single place to locally store all my attachments, view them, and mail them to people later (much like the Camera Roll does with photos) would be just awesome.

4. Elegant Notifications

You know that green bar you see along the top of the screen when you’re in a call and mucking-about in some other app at the same time? Why can’t Notifications appear in something like that, instead of those clumsy modal boxes that steal focus when I’m playing Fruit Ninja or entirely vanish the moment I unlock my phone?

5. Camera Gestures

I don’t want any more hardware buttons on my iPhone. But I would like a way to gain instant access to the camera. So how about a customizable gesture (say, four rapid vertical sweeps of the screen?) that launches the Camera app whether the phone is locked or not?

6. Customizable Multitasking Tray

You know the drill: Double-tap the Home button to make the multitasking tray pop-up. Swipe to the right to reveal iPod controls. Swipe again to get access to the volume. Lovely. But how about expanding that tray to accommodate more? How about swiping with two fingers to get something else –- say, your four most-used Settings? Even just Bluetooth and Wi-Fi on/off switches, at the very least.

7. iOS Data Sharing

I use my iPhone, iPod touch and iPad all the time. All three have a Photos app. Let’s say I take a photo on my iPhone, then later, I’m on my iPad and want that photo. Why can’t the photo in my iPhone’s Camera Roll automagically appear in my iPad’s Photos app, too? Seems like that would be a great addition to a MobileMe subscription. It might compensate for the diminished incentive now that Find My iPhone is free.

8. Customizable Default Apps

Apple’s native iOS apps aren’t the best solution for everyone. When that’s the case, why not give users the choice of which app to use? For instance, replace the native Calendar app with Calvetica, replace Notes with SimpleNote, or replace the system keyboard with Swype.

Apple already enforces strict guidelines and approval processes on all the apps in the iOS app store, so ensuring apps are bug or crash-free shouldn’t be too big a leap (otherwise, why exercise such draconian measures to begin with?). If Apple is afraid users might blame the iPhone for problematic apps, the solution is simple: Overriding the default app settings should require users do so via iTunes. Just making the process a little cumbersome would ensure only the most dedicated geeks are getting something other than the Jobs-sanctioned Apple Experience.

9. Custom SMS Alerts

I send about 30 SMS messages for every phone call I make. In short, I use SMS all the time. Is it too much to ask that I can set a custom alert sound of my own choosing, instead of sticking to the selection Apple provides? I could do that on my first cellphone back in 1996!

10. Editable Dictionary

I’m sick of the way my iPhone insists on turning otherwise correct words into the wrong words. I want to use the word “me” and my iPhone stubbornly “corrects” it to “mr.” And not even “Mr”, but the incorrect, lower-case “mr”.

I must use the word “Mr” about three times a year, but I use the word “me” much more frequently. Just why would Apple presume to know better than me which makes more sense? It’s a particularly “dumb” correction, too; if the auto-correct were even a little bit aware of the context, it wouldn’t make that mistake.

Apple, we’ve waited long enough. Let us edit, amend or otherwise tweak our dictionary and auto-correct settings. It would make mr very happy.

Did I miss something? Jump in with your own suggestions in the comments below.

Related content from GigaOM Pro (sub req’d):

You're subscribed! If you like, you can update your settings

  1. Camera gestures? Is is that hard to hit the home button and then tap the Camera icon? Would a gesture really make it that much quicker and simpler?

    Seriously? Some of these aren’t bad but i’m glad you aren’t in charge of iOS development because as far as iOS 5 features go… this is weak sauce.

    The only feature on here that I think is actually important is the wireless synch.

    1. Really? You must not be that popular and receive any notifications throughout the day. The notification system on the iPhone is horrible. That would be my priority.

    2. We’re talking about turning the camera on when you haven’t been using the phone. If I want to use the camera I need to Swipe to Unlock and then type in my password. Only then can I tap the camera icon. Not that straightforward. My son’s already something else by the time I have the camera on.

      1. I’m totally with Boris Jacquin on this one. This is one thing that Windows 7 phone has got right. It needs a hardware button to switch the camera on whether the phone is locked or not AND to act as shutter release. See something interesting, whip it out of your pocket. Press once and camera is on. Press again to take the picture.

    3. The notifications system is a joke and the primary reason I jailbreak. The other reason I jailbreak is to get my calendar on the lockscreen. When your job involves being many different meetings, this is invaluable, If they added these two features I’d stop jailbreaking. I agree that the camera thing isn’t that big a deal, but calling the lockscreen and notification system archaic is a massive understatement.

    4. +1 with George Burley

      1. I agree, +1 with George Burley

    5. ahhh!! something’s not important to me, so it must be totally invalid!!!

      it’s not a matter of “is it really that hard” it’s a matter of using Snappy + Activator is so much more convenient. I hold the volume down button and poof, there’s my camera. I get my shot and that’s it. That’s important to me, whereas I couldn’t give a crap about the notifications.

      Even MS is selling that in their new Windows Phone commercial with skydivers.

      1. I’m totally with you on both counts, Mike.

    6. C’mon George, didn’t you read that priority flags in e-mail are ‘essential’. Now THAT would make iOS5 killer.

      Somebody should make a top 10 list of useless features that appear on ‘must have’ top ten lists for the iOS.

      This guy has about six of them. :(

  2. I guess I’m not the only one that uses the iPad as a lounge gadget to check mails, check out facebook, read magazines, control iTunes and so on…

    But being two people in the household (and while there might be couples out there having an iPad each) we share one iPad… so it would be great to have multiple user access on the iPad with iOS 5 – meaning my girl can log in and check her mail (and not mine too) or use the facebook app without logging out of my account first and making new highscores in her games without mixing them with mine… the list of options probably goes on and on…

    Another great feature while not necessarily iOS related but App related would be that all Apps allow for App-related sync between devices. I would love levelling up in a game on my iPhone in the bus, while then resuming on my iPad at the same level. Same with news apps and…

    1. And a “guest” mode for when you want to show someone a great new app but don’t want then mucking about your other stuff while they have your pad. The multi user access would also be great for when your kid comes up to you when you come home and says “borrow iPad”… You can then just have the kid safe stuff on there, and it wont have a wonky new wallpaper when it gets back to you.

  3. Killer cellphone behavior :

    1. rule-based instructions for incoming calls.
    For example,
    o if number XXX-XXX-XXXX calls, immediately put it to voicemail.
    o if number XXX-XXX-XXXX calls put it through, all others go vm.
    o if number XXX-XXX-XXXX, block this number.
    o if private or unknown call, immediately put it to vm
    o if unknown call, immediately put it to message X and vm or end.

    1. YES! Right now you can only get this by jailbreaking.

  4. Customizable and flexible “profiles”, handling how different calls and SMS and notifications should be announced, that’s what I miss about blackberry the most.

  5. Windows Mobile had wireless sync back in the day and they removed it because enterprises did not want employees being able to sync without being attached to the machine. That way certain enterprises could lock down syncing by blocking USB connections; for security reasons. I could see wireless syncing being useful if Apple would come up with a way for corporations to somehow disable it, since the iPhone is gaining traction in the enterprise.

  6. 1 to 4 and 7 would be awesome!!
    I would just add conversation-like email messages, an unified mailbox with inbox and sent messages. Something like SMS.
    Data sharing for sure!! They shoud unify the mobileme Gallery app with Photos app. why have two separate apps?? Mobileme gallery should be an add on to photos. That and wireless sync for backup calendar, contacts, etc would automatically make mobileme free. The only thing not adressed here is iDisk but they have to improve it a lot to reach Dropbox level of easy and usability.

  7. Kaelin Bougneit Thursday, November 25, 2010

    How about being able to delete photos and music? iPods consistently fail at being able to do some very trivial things. If it means editing an XML file, then so be it. More apps in one folder. A limit of 12 means three folders for Productivity apps. Just little conveniences like that. And you can just jailbreak and get the LockInfo app for a useful lockscreen. But you shouldn’t have to. Apple should take a couple clues from what users want and what they jailbreak to do.

  8. You missed todo’s in the Calendar app, syncing with iCal of course! Why they haven’t added this feature yet (or in the first place) is beyond me…

    1. I’m not sure but I think you can. Maybe I’m just thinking of contacts but in iTunes I see an option choose which program you would like to get the data to sync. It says Microsoft outlook (I’m on a pc, so I thought maybe iCal is what would show up on a Mac) I have this unchecked because it’s an iPod touch and I don’t use calendars very much and app my contacts were created on the iPod and I don’t use outlook so I don’t need to sync those or anything. Of course I may be wrong but that certainly does make sense to have if they dont already

    2. I wonder about this one too. I use iCal to organize my to-do’s, and I can get to them when I log into MobileMe on the web. If it can go that far, why can’t Apple complete the circle and let me get to them on my iPhone? Really, Apple? Is it THAT hard?!

  9. More customization of sounds and icons. Many people jailbreak their phones just so they can customize the icons and sounds.

  10. I agree with most of these. I almost hate to admit but I am a bit jealous of Android and Windows Phone these days.
    The lack of a useful lock screen and the horrible iPhone notification system are my biggest complaints.
    I’ve been seeing commercials for the new Windows Phone that lets you instantly start up the camera even if the screen is locked. That’s a pretty nice feature. Many times I have been frustrated by having to hit the button, swipe, enter pass code and then start up the camera. Doesn’t sound too complicated but factor in the occasional mistyping of my password and frequently I miss what I wanted to capture.

    I love my iPhone but it seems Apple is getting slow with the new features while the competition is really catching up fast.


Comments have been disabled for this post