iOS 5 Wish List

ios5-feature

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.

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