Blog Post

What’s still missing from iOS 5, iCloud and OS X

Credit: teehan+lax

While Apple (s aapl) delivered an overwhelming batch of features, updates, new features and new software in recent weeks, there are still some loose ends it could stand to tie up. For the most part, the following list includes features that exist on iOS and not on OS X, or the other way around, and wouldn’t require a hardware update to implement. Take a look, then see if you have any additional Apple oversights of your own to add to the list.

Siri on iPad and Mac. It may surprise some to know that Mac already has voice recognition built-in. OS X has been able to answer simple questions for quite some time, but it’s no Siri. Many have also been asking why the iPad 2 update for iOS 5 didn’t include Siri. Some have speculated that there is a chipset difference on the new iPhone 4S that allows it to understand spoken words better than the current iPad 2. Others think it will be coming in the next iPad release and will be one of the must-have reasons to upgrade. However Siri gets to the Mac and iPad, I hope it gets there soon.

iBooks and Newsstand on Mac. My Mac has no idea what to do with the ePub files in iTunes that I purchase from the iBook store. I can access my Kindle(s amzn) purchases from my Mac using their online Cloud Reader or native Mac app, yet I can’t say the same for my iBook purchases. And it just feels weird sitting in front of my 27″ LED Cinema Display reading a magazine on my iPad.

Delete and share photos from Photo Stream. Being able to selectively delete individual photos from Photo Stream is definitely important, but I’d also like to be able to share picked-through photos in organized sub-galleries with certain family and friends — basically exactly what MobileMe Galleries does today, and will do until Apple shuts them down next June.

Multiple Photo Streams on Apple TV. You can actually add MobileMe Galleries from different MobileMe accounts to your Apple TV and choose which one you want to view. MobileMe galleries can also be organized into Albums to allow you to further filter out which photos you do and don’t want to view at any given time. But you can only associate your Apple TV with one iCloud account, and therefore just one Photo Stream. This limitation also extends to the iPhone, and Aperture on the Mac. Would love to see a little more flexibility here to account for families and people with multiple individual Photo Streams who share common devices.

AirPlay to a Mac. Many prefer having a little more power in their home theater than the Apple TV can provide. The Mac mini has an HDMI connection that makes it a great candidate for home theater use. Unfortunately the Mac mini (or any Mac) doesn’t allow you to stream content from your iOS devices using AirPlay. Especially annoying if you’re living in a small space like a college dorm room where your 27″ iMac is your home theater.

AirPlay Mirroring from a Mac. The exact opposite of using a Mac as an AirPlay receiver is sharing a screen from a Mac to the Apple TV. Think of the Apple TV as an external wireless display or second monitor that can be detected when Detecting Displays on your Mac. It would certainly expand the usefulness of Apple’s $99 home theatre hub.

iCloud file access from OS X. Documents in the Cloud is definitely part of the overall iCloud strategy and should start showing up in more third-party apps. But it’s also almost guaranteed to make it to iWork on OS X. Apple has turned the file system inside out and seems to be trying to make folders and paths obsolete, and bringing iCloud document syncing to the desktop is a key step along that path.

AirDrop access from iOS. Related to document access in the iCloud is the ability to quickly and easily share documents to and from various Apple products. With OS X Lion, AirDrop introduced the ability to quickly transfer a file from one Mac to another. But to be honest, I need to get files from my Mac to my iPad more often than I need to get them from one Mac to another. And when I’m out and about, I’d also like to be able to share files from my iOS device to someone else’s. Messaging them a link to a shared Dropbox access URL works, but is less than ideal.

iMessage on OS X. We’ve said it before, but it bears repeating: Apple needs to get iMessage working on the Mac. It spared little time porting FaceTime from the mobile realm to the desktop, so hopefully we see the same kind of turnaround for getting the much more generally useful iMessage there, too.

15 Responses to “What’s still missing from iOS 5, iCloud and OS X”

  1. Whats missing in Lion is common sense. The file system stinks and there is way too much change for the sake of change. Apple has dumbed down a great OS to the point where it’s nearly useless.

  2. Apple also shipped iOS 5 with bad Bluetooth 4.0 software. The problem persists across all iPhones (4S, 4, 3Gs, 3G) and iPads. Odd that iPad Bluetooth will pair with OS X Lion on MacBook. iPad with 5.0 will not recognize iPhone running 5.0 or 4.3.3 Bluetooth 4.0 standard has a dual modes, one for standard BT devices and backward compatibility (BT 3.0, 2.1, …) and one for BLE (Bluetooth Low Energy). It is supposed to me one or the other so I assume a “toggle” option will also be required.

  3. Benjamin Penner

    Thank-you for the article Mr. Goetz. These are all excellent points that Apple should definitely address. IMessage for Mac, Airdrop access from ios, and iBooks on the Mac top my list but all of the others would be very practical as well. Hopefully Apple will be willing to listen…

  4. Lou Reynolds

    I agree with the comment about iWork not being seamless across OSX and IOS devices. That was one of the first things I tried when I turned on iCloud. Another smaller issue is I’d like to see Airplay “to” an IOS device. So for instance if I was running the Remote app on my iPad and was accessing my main media library that lives on a Mac Mini running iTunes that I could select ANY content Music,Movies, AudioBooks, Podcasts etc and steam it to an not only an ATV or Airport Express but also to the iPad, iPhone or iPod Touch that I was holding in my hand! I know you can use Home Sharing to do some of this but you need to use different apps for music and videos and you CANNOT as far as I can tell stream an Audible audiobook from your main iTunes library to your IOS device but you can stream that same content to an airport express or an ATV. This doesn’t make sense to me.

  5. Phil Santangelo

    Unfortunately these are all features that should “Just Work” I hope that they are not holding onto these features until future releases to force us to spend more money to upgrade when half of them should have launched with icloud.

  6. What I don’t get is why Apple went to so much trouble creating iCloud but then seem to be taking ages to update iWork to have automatic iCloud syncing. Right now you have to download the documents from safari and then you have to upload them again after the changes. They really need to update iWork on Mac.

  7. Sandis Grantins

    Absolutely agree with all of points in this post. Sometimes it’s frustrating to see how slow Apple is with such obvious things. For exapmple, I’ve been waiting for airplay to/from Mac since it was introducet in iOS. It should be super easy for Apple to do this…

  8. “Apple has turned the file system inside out and seems to be trying to make folders and paths obsolete…”

    Now I’m getting steamed. I keep hearing that Apple wants to get rid of folders. How the (blank) am I supposed to find particular files among the thousands of PDF, Numbers, JPEGs, Pages files that I have? Currently, I organize them within a well understood filing system. Now, I’m supposed to organize them…what, alphabetically? This really stinks.