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iOS 5 Wish List

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Let’s be honest: iOS 4.2.1 (s aapl) 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 (s msft) phone, back when the iPhone didn’t exist, and a BlackBerry (s rimm) 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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83 Responses to “iOS 5 Wish List”

  1. When purchasing apps from the App Store using a IOS devise, why can’t they do away with forcing us to leave the store, simply to watch the app being downloaded. If you want to purchase more apps you have start all over again.
    Also, using my iPad, why do I have to continually tap Show More when searching for Top Apps section? Then, after tapping to say 3-4 levels down, I choose to read about or download an app, upon returning to the list, I am forced to start from the top!!! It’s frustrating.

  2. I agree with some of these (especially wireless sync), but I don’t know if they will ever change the lock screen much. I understand some people wanting it, but isn’t the point of a lock screen so strangers CAN’T look at your appointments and mail? It’s the gate that stops strangers from getting at your private information (hence the “lock”). Granted, I don’t password protect my phone, and I wouldn’t mind having my information handy up front, but Apple likes to have one story that it tells its customers and fiddling with widgets on a lock screen would, I believe, complicate that story.

  3. tableteer

    finally better basic pdf interaction in iBooks:

    – simpler text highlighting with one(!) simple gesture

    – simple freeform writing in pdf’s with a stylus

    – inserting blank pages in pdf’s

    • Lol, stylus? That’s something you would never see with an iOS device. The only imaginable way I could put a stylus next to an iPad is with a drawing app.

      But seriously all the options in this article aren’t all that necessary. Now the wireless syncing would be wonderful. And bleutooth would be more used if they allowed picture sharing. Furthermore I don’t prefer any other phone. iOS does a good job for my daily usage.

      • tableteer

        Sorry – there are already some styluses for iPad or iPhone.
        I tried 2 of them – I wasn’t happy. Wacom “active digitizer technology” is much better. But I hope the Apple capazitive-display-technology advances quickly. And by the way – why couldn’t Apple buy Wacom and integrate this technology?

  4. Widgets!

    Why can’t iOS have widgets like it does on Mac OSX and on Android. You shouldn’t have to find the settings app then go into wireless and turn on wireless or bluetooth or airplane mode. A simple widget (that looks like an icon) that you can tap on like a switch on the homescreen would be great.

  5. Lets not get ahead of ourselves wanting a new OS for the iPad. Whatever it is, it will only be for the new model iPads that come out next year. You can bet any amount of money that it won’t work on the current model at all, based on the current experience that of all the new features of iOS 4.2, NOT ONE of them work on the iPhone 3Gs, they only work on the current model, the iPhone4.

      • Airplay does not work on the 3Gs, it doesn’t even show up as an option to play via my Airport Express when I am playing a song on my iPhone’s iTunes.
        Airprint does not work on the 3Gs.
        The new Text Message-specific notification tones are not available on the 3Gs.
        Those are the only new features of iOS 4.2.1 on the iPhone.

    • Hamranhansenhansen

      Not only does 3GS support all the features of iOS v4, but iPad supports all the features of iOS v4. Next year, iPhone 4 will be the low-end model, so iOS v5 will have to support it. iPad has the same A4 SoC, there is no reason to think it won’t run iOS v5.

  6. Great suggestions, for the most part. I would add these things.

    1. A separate dedicated hardware camera button on the top that both turns the camera on and also takes the picture. Yes I would opt for a separate button. I really don’t like poking a button on the screen, and not keen on the gestures you suggest. Too much.

    2. I have always wanted a single app to handle switching on/off wifi, 3G and bluetooth to conserve battery life without poking through 3-4 levels to do this.

    3. The ability to delete default apps that don’t cut it in comparison to other options available, e.g. Notes, Weather, Stocks

    • A couple more things I forgot.

      1. More storage. There can never be enough. I would have 64GB, or even better 128GB or 256GB in an instant. OK, this is a hardware wish. But I would really like to see this on iPhone and iPad (500GB anyone?).

      2. Swype or shapewriter support as an option throughout the OS. I can type much faster and more accurately with these, and having tried them cannot imagine why one or the other (or an equivalent) isn’t built right in at system level.

      3. For iPad, the ability to view more than one window simultaneously. I often find myself working with at least two windows simultaneously.

  7. carl el murr

    Iphone should have some kind of messenger like BBM.
    blackberry still has this advantage over iphone.
    the day iphone will have a good messenger like BBM blackberry won’t be able to compete anymore.

    this feature should be the NUMBER ONE of your wish list.

  8. @Liam Cassidy

    Read your post, its really nice and I am hoping that all these features are there in new OS by But my questions is who is going to inform Apple that people need these features.

    I would personally like to recommend “Wireless Sync”, “Improved Mail”, “Custom SMS Alerts” and “Editable Dictionary” these features to be there in the new iOS 5.

    I agree with George Burley for the camera gestures point. I think its quit simple.

    2) attachments in mail
    3) ability to organize photos in folders with the iphone
    4) ability to remove songs

    NOT a general ios update.. but some sort of Addons from Apple to modify just the things YOU LIKE for ur phone

  10. I would like to see (and think we will see) a completely new, Apple-branded mapping system. Based on the Placebase and Poly9 acquisitions, Apple is clearly trying to replace Google Maps with a home-grown mapping system. Once Apple fully controls its map application, I think we may see things like voice-alert turn-by-turn directions, and maybe the ability to download and store maps on the iPhone without a 3rd party app.

  11. All those other features are great and would be much appreciated, but FOR GOD’S SAKE, please give me the ability to turn of shake to undo… PLEASE!! The only time I use it is when I have to push the damn cancel button. I mean, come on, I think it should be easy enough to include a on/off toggle for this feature. It’s sooooooooooooooooooo annoying!!

  12. Big one for me is the ability to organise the photo library from the phone. Why do I have to sync with a computer to move a photo from the camera roll to its own gallery. They’ve even got the basis of a UI there with being able to create playlists.

  13. Joe Steiner

    I Think they need USERS!
    Different accounts on your iPhone, sync separetly, split the GB’s into how ever many accounts on the Phone. Say you have a Home account for games, music and movies on your iPhone, You would also have a Work account for Notes, Calenders, Meetings and Dragon Dictation. 32 GB split into 2 is 16 GB each account. It all works out. separate accounts. password protection. all in one OS. iOS V!

  14. Umm. So on your *lock* screen you want to tell the world what you’re doing today and allow them to take photos. Remind me why you *lock* the phone again? No thanks.

    Multi-user and wireless sync, yes.

    • Michael Napier

      I would be happy if the lock screen would just show a summary of how many texts, e-mails, missed calls, and maybe the weather. Nothing too personal.
      And as for someone being able to pick up the phone and snap pictures, who cares? I never worry about that with my digital camera. As long as that’s all they can do.

    • I can’t see how someone taking a snapshot with your phone would bother you as long as they would need to unlock the phone(assuming yours is password protected) to access, edit or share the photo.

      And a customizable lockscreen would obviously give you options to choose what you want to show on your lockscreen. You can choose NOT to show your upcoming calendar or to-do items. But those who want to should have the option.

  15. Michael Napier

    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.

    • 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

    • 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?!

  16. Kaelin Bougneit

    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.

  17. 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.

  18. 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.

  19. Charles Ditzel

    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.

  20. 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…

    • 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.

  21. George Burley

    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.

    • 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.

      • 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.

    • 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.

    • 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.

    • anonymous

      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. :(