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Summary:

Six months after the general release of iOS 7, I have a good sense of what I like and what I’d like to see improved in iOS 8.

ios 7 logo
photo: Apple

Since we are roughly six months into the general release of iOS 7, and about two months from learning about iOS 8, I thought I’d share my thoughts on iOS 7 as well as my iOS 8 wish list. Overall, I’ve been pretty happy with iOS 7 and haven’t wanted to go back to iOS 6. However, I still think there is room for improvement.

What I like

The new look-and-feel introduced in iOS 7 was controversial, to say the least. For me, I liked the new interface from the beginning. I’m in the developer program and installed the beta the day it was released. I took me a few days to get used to it, but after that there was no going back. I recently had my iPad replaced under warranty. When I got the new one, it had iOS6 installed. It was a jarring moment as I realized then how much I liked the new look and feel.

Being able to flip up (as opposed to flip off, I guess) Control Center and turn Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and the flashlight off and on, as well as have quick access to a calculator, is a nice addition and has also eliminated the need for a separate flashlight app. My one complaint is the touch target for the swipe seems a little narrow.

The Notification Today Screen is a great addition. I’d be lying if I said I used it as much as I should. It’s nice seeing what my day looks like first thing in the morning. Granted, it seems the times I use it the most are the days I’m thinking of calling in when I’m sick and want to see if I have any important meetings. When I swipe down to see the Today Screen, and it tells me “There are 2 events scheduled…” for the next day, I’d like to be able to tap on that sentence and bring up the calendar.

What I also like to see is for them to borrow from Google Now and let me add in sports scores and the like. This week, I fell asleep before the Red Sox won a game in 14 innings. It would have been great if the Today Screen showed the score the next morning. However, I’ve never really used the Missed Notification tab, because I’ve really limited the amount of apps that hit the Notification Center.

I really like the new Multitasking screens. It took a little getting used to it taking up the whole screen, however, the live update is great. Sometimes, I’ll use that to take a quick peek at an app and then scoot back over to the current app.

While I still use 1Password, I’ve become a big fan of iCloud Keychain. What I’d like to see is the ability to have other apps have access to it, too. I still need to keep a copy of my passwords in 1Password because Mail, WordPress, and any other app with a login can’t read the Keychain.

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What I’m not sold on

The grouping of photos by Moments in the Photos app is a bit of a hit or miss for me. I’d like the grouping to be a little bit smarter. Over the period of a week, I took photos at a show in Connecticut, near work, and near home. On one view level in Photos, they were grouped all together, When I tapped on a photo it did bring me to the grouping of just the Connecticut show. The reason I’m sold on it is because of that mid-level grouping. I’d prefer it didn’t group the different locations that way. That said, I don’t like it when there’s only a few photos in a collection, so I’m guess I’m just never happy.

iTunes Radio is something I keep forgetting is there. I like the idea of it, and as a iTunes Match subscriber I should be using it more. I usually come close to my data limits each month (my plan is split between three phones) so I have cellular data turned off for Music. Since I do most of my music listening on the ride home from work, listening to iTunes Radio is pretty much out. I should use it at work, though, where I can get on the guest Wi-Fi.

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What I don’t like

The fact that Airdrop only works between iOS devices (or two OS X devices) is a let down. Sometimes, I’d like to be able to drop a file from my Mac to my iPad without going through the the iTunes File Share route.

While Siri has gotten better, it’s still a let-down for me. I still seem to be having, “I’m sorry Dave, I can’t do that right now” moments more than I’d like. Either she has a hard time with my Boston accent, or she’s just hard of hearing, because it seems like most text messages have her end up mangling at least one of the words. I use Siri on almost a daily basis and at least twice a day I end up swearing at it. I would also like the Siri APIs opened up for all developers to use.

The folder view on the iPad feels like it should display at least another row of icons. I also don’t like that tapping the home button still leaves me in the folder; I want it to bring me back to Home screen.

GameCenter is still pretty useless for me. I have friends on GameCenter, but I never really interact with them. The Notifications seem wonky, too. My girlfriend plays Scrabble on her iPad a lot, but according to GameCenter, she last played it a year ago. I would also like to be able to tap on the Scrabble icon in GameCenter and challenge her directly.

My iOS 8 wish list

I’d like to see more app parity between OSX and iOS. iOS really needs a Preview app. I can store PDFs in my iCloud, but can’t see them on my iPad. I’m also not sure why there isn’t a calculator or compass on the iPad, either. It’s unlikely we will see this, but I’d love to be able to set default apps for mail and browsing. On the iPad, I’d like to see the landscape view have the same six columns I can have in the springboard. If there’s room there, why isn’t there room on the main display. It also throws my OCD off when the rows don’t line up.

Apple also needs to increase iCloud storage and bring their prices in line with Google’s service ($9.99/mo gives me 1TB of data vs. a max of 50GB of iCloud storage for $100/year. Also, you cannot fully back up 64 or 128GB iOS devices. Granted, some of this data can be redownloaded from iTunes Match, iBookstore and other repositories. I’d like to use iCloud to hold a lot more data than I currently can. I have roughly 30g of guitar magazines I’ve scanned in and I’d like them to sit on iCloud; right now they are on my Google Drive. I would also like to truly start severing the iTunes connection my iOS devices have, and improve how iOS apps sync back to their OS X counterparts. If I add a book on my iPad’s iBooks app from Project Gutenberg, it’s not synced back to iBooks on OS X (to be fair, I don’t think if I open a book on the Kindle app it’s auto-added to my Kindle Personal Documents, either). I would also like to create an album on Photos on my iPad and have it appear in iPhoto on my Mac.

I would also like to be able to write to Reading List from apps not called Safari. I’ve been using as a replacement to Pocket since, and I don’t like that I can’t set my Read Later in Twitter to Reading List. Actually, a share sheet like Android would be great, On my Nexus 7, once I have the Evernote app installed, I can share just about everything with that app.

We will find out June 2nd what Apple’s roadmap for iOS 8 is. Most likely, we will see a few bits of people’s wish lists and then a slew of features we hadn’t though of. What I hope is now that Apple is done (hopefully) with the redesign, iOS 8 will focus on features.

  1. I agree with Preview and default apps.

    My adds would be:

    • User profiles – who wants their kids in their grown up world?
    • Better cursor movement for editing – why not use two fingers to scroll around a text entry field? Remember Daniel Hooper’s concept video … https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RGQTaHGQ04Q

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  2. You can view PDF’s with iBooks if that helps you.

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    1. Agree. It just seems like I’m backing into the solution.

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  3. But of course you can add to reading list from twitter, Reeder, Flipboard etc.
    granted it’s not a generic feature like in android, but every app that uses the API can do it.

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  4. I think you are far too forgiving for iOS 7. The whole process of syncing, sharing and exchanging files is a complete mess. In an attempt to make the file system transparent with iOS and iCoud, Apple made it more complicated. Hiding files in iOS versus the file system in MacOSX will never work out, as long as they stick to the paradigm of apps as document containers. The only way out is to add a Documents app where you can store files in centralised way for every app.

    Notification center is horrible: besides being ugly, it does not contain enough relevant data (why words and sentences instead of symbols?) and most data is not actionable: replying to messages, clicking on a calendar, … And you have to manually delete notifications all the time. Not very smart.

    If they don’t add more languages to Siri, Apple’s gives a signal to its international customers, they are not important. No movies or TV shows in lots of iTunes Store is one thing, but Siri in a handful of languages after all these years is laughable at best.

    And finally, while I do agree that iOS 7 is fresh and modern, I do miss some shadows, backdrops and buttons. What’s wrong with a button indicating you’re pressing on something?

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  5. Improve switching between apps, double click home button is an overkill. I prefer to use browser because of convenience of switching between tabs vs. switching between apps, specifically on iPad.

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  6. John Watters Monday, April 28, 2014

    “Being able to flip up (as opposed to flip off, I guess) Control Center and turn Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and the flashlight off and on, as well as have quick access to a calculator, is a nice addition and has also eliminated the need for a separate flashlight app. My one complaint is the touch target for the swipe seems a little narrow.”

    You need to start the “swipe up” from below the screen. Once I figured that out I never have an issue pulling up the control center.

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  7. I agree with others as far as an exposed file system like adding an iOS Finder app. Mac users are use to the Unix file structure, I’m sure iOS users can as well.

    Also multiple windows of apps is missing. With the power of these devices, no reason not to start supporting this.

    Add mousing to iOS. If you jailbreak, you can add a custom Bluetooth stack that allows mousing. If the mod community can figure this out, why not Apple? Just adding it does not mean those who think its an abomination have to use it.

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    1. Multiple windows? That’s not what propelled these devices to their runaway success. Get a device based on windows 8 if you want a desktop/tablet hybrid.

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  8. I’m backing up my iphone 5, because I have an appointment in an hour to finally have the sleep/wake button repaired, now that Apple has agreed that it is a big enough problem to address. While waiting for the backup to finish I picked up my iphone 4 and started playing with it, and I must say….I still like the icons and lettering much better on IOS 6. There’s just something about the larger, abstract icons and spider script that makes me think that IOS 7 was designed for 15-year-olds that are big into japanimation and pokemon.

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  9. Flip up for WiFi has one fatal flaw… You can’t select a WiFi network from that screen. It wouldn’t be so bad if settings was available from that screen. I’ve demoted my iPhone and replaced with with an iPod for iOS.

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