Blog Post

6 things I want to see in iOS 6

WWDC is right around the corner, and with the likely preview of iOS 6 planned for the opening-day keynote, here’s a list of the things I want to see out of the latest mobile operating system from Apple(s AAPL).

Refined notifications

iOS 5’s Notification Center completely revamped the way notifications are handled on iOS devices, but there are some spots that could use small tweaks that could make a big difference in usability. The most common complaint about Notification Center is how small the “clear” buttons are that remove notifications from the dropdown menu. They’re hard to hit even for my fingers. Making them bigger and including a “clear all” button would mitigate this small annoyance.

Another problem is that the Notification Center dropdown menu is hard to find — it wouldn’t surprise me if most people discover it as the result of an accidental swipe. Part of the problem is that when a notification pops up, it gives you no hint as to where it’s going. If notifications slid up and off the screen, rather than flipping over the top of the current application, it would better make known Notification Center’s existence.

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Notification Center in its current form also breaks the “layered” UI concept in iOS built by the UIs for Folders, the multitasking tray and Siri, all of which are below iOS’s main UI, while Notification Center slides down from the top. A simple way to fix this would be to have Notification Center “push” the screen down when you swipe. In fact, there’s a jailbreak tweak called Flowtation that does just that (see video above) that Apple could take some cues from.

And last, a Do Not Disturb mode à la OS X Mountain Lion would be nice, allowing you to manually turn off notifications easily. It’d be nice if you could set start and end times for DND as well.

A more useful Siri

Thanks, Siri.

Apple still labels its Siri voice assistant feature as a beta product, and for good reason. When it works, it works incredibly well, but there’ve been times when I’ve been frustrated by Siri’s limitations. It works well with Apple’s apps, but, for instance, if I want to create a note in SimpleNote instead of the Notes app I’m out of luck. Creating a Siri API so that other apps can have specialized commands makes sense. Those that remember using the first iPhone know how limited it was without third-party apps. The same is true of Siri.

Siri could also use more commands to handle regular iOS tasks like turning off Wi-Fi or Bluetooth. One of the annoying things about iOS is that there’s no quick way to toggle these settings; you have to go into Settings and do a little navigating to find them. Adding this functionality to Siri would make these tasks far more efficient.

I also hope Siri gets full functionality in countries outside the United States, where mapping and Yelp(s YELP) data aren’t available.

Updated looks

iOS was introduced in 2007 with the original iPhone. Not much has changed in the basic look of iOS since then. Tab bars, toolbars and lists all look the same as they did five years ago. The Settings app still has pinstripes, a visual feature that hasn’t been used in OS X since Tiger. It feels like it’s time for a refresh.

Thankfully, it seems Apple agrees. You may have noticed that iPhoto for iOS uses a neutral silver-colored theme for its tab bar and background. Apple’s recently released WWDC app also has the same silver theme. This could just be an experiment, of course. Apple’s used iTunes as a UI testing bed for years, so they may just be doing the same thing here. But it could also mean we’ll see more broad changes to the look and feel of iOS soon.

A new Safari

We’ve covered the improvements made to Safari in Mountain Lion extensively, and I’d really like those improvements to trickle down to Safari on iOS as well. A unified search and address bar, access to iCloud tabs, an offline Reading List and a new loading animation would be excellent additions to the best mobile browser out there.


AirDrop was a feature introduced in OS X Lion that allows you to wirelessly transfer files from one Mac to another. That’s great for two people wtih Macs, but what if one of them has an iPhone? Why shouln’t I be able to AirDrop some documents from my Mac to a friend’s iPhone? Or from his iPhone to mine? Having AirDrop on iOS would make collaboration far easier, and would save me from having to email files back and forth with someone in the same room.

Better inter-app communication

Mac OS X has had a feature called Services since it debuted, something it inherited from NeXTSTEP. Services are basically a simple form of inter-app communication. If I selected some text in Safari, say, I could then email that selected text by using going to the Services menu and clicking that option. iOS doesn’t have anything like this. Wouldn’t it be nice if you could just select some text, hit a button, and share it with another app?

On Android(s GOOG), an app can share data with any other app that can accept whatever data’s being shared through its Intents API. That’s a mouthful, but it basically means that I could share a photo from the photos app to the Facebook(s FB) app just by hitting a button and choosing it. I think Apple’s been hesitant to implement something like this because the list of apps tends to get bloated (when I used Android, I had a list of 12 apps I could share photos to). However, I think the utility of this feature outweighs this drawback.

I’d be perfectly happy if only a few of these items make it into iOS 6. Either way, I’m looking forward to some surprises at WWDC 2012.

What do you want to see out of iOS 6? Tell us in the comments.

41 Responses to “6 things I want to see in iOS 6”

  1. Robert

    I wish the concept of group list would work. The “newest” iMessage says

    “Easy group messaging

    Easily send messages to a group. Just type each name in the To field. When friends reply, everyone sees the responses.”

    Sorry that is not easy, that is just typing all the names in. The whole distribution list concept is poorly worked out and has multiple bugs.

  2. ssidner

    I would like to see a Bluetooth mouse driver. I have an excellent Logitech keyboard case for my iPad. But I still have to reach up and touch the screen to move the pointer. A Bluetooth mouse would work so much better. It’s a human factors, UX, least-surprise thing, but Apple just doesn’t seem to get it.

  3. If you have “Ask to join WiFi Networks” turned on it will constantly bug you to join networks that you will never have access to. You should be able to flag them so you never get asked again.

  4. I would like to see better integration between Mail and other apps. E.g. If I get a LinkedIn invite it would be great if I could click the Accept button in the email and be taken to the message in the app rather than firing up Safari

  5. Ben Williams

    Here are some things I’d like to see: Better memory management. I have several apps that the device often has to be rebooted in order for them to run successfully. Fixed notification icons — many of them don’t keep correct count any longer, but worked fine before the last OS upgrade. A way to hide the darned bookshelf icon, it’s wasting space and I don’t use it. And the big one: nested folders. This one-level, limited-count-of-content folder thing is just retarded. IOS needs to move towards OSX; the idea Apple has that OSX needs to move towards IOS is just incredibly irritating and is messing up what was an excellent desktop experience.

  6. I want the ability to create a “macro” or “shortcut” of keystrokes and screen touches that allows me to automate things. For example, I want an Icon on my main screen that does:
    Settings, General, Bluetooth, Off. That is normally 4 touches but could be 1. Or 1 Icon that I can program to allow me to include, Phone, Favorites, Scroll to the bottom, select call doctor. That would cut 4 or 5 touches down to one. Why does Apple not provide this capability? It is almost enough to make me go to Android.

  7. My number 1 complain about the iPhone: the phone app… It’s just terrible. Most importantly: why can’t I edit numbers before dialing?? For example adding a country code makes me go into notes, paste, edit, copy, etc. In 14 years I never had a phone before where this was impossible.

    Also I second the notifications differences between email accounts. Lastly, iMessage needs to switch better between SMS and iMessage in case there is no data connection.

  8. Tom Cheng

    Synch is a problem–handset vs computer vs cloud; duplication and errors galore. Case in point–Contact Management.
    Also need to be able to transfer contacts to car phone book.

  9. miike

    “On Android, an app can share data with any other app that can accept whatever data’s being shared through its Intents API” is a mouthful but ” Notification Center in its current form also breaks the “layered” UI concept in iOS built by the UIs for Folders, the multitasking tray and Siri, all of which are below iOS’s main UI, while Notification Center slides down from the top” is not?

  10. Jason L

    I want to be able to add content like mp3s without using iTunes. I should be able to go to a website and save a link like the mp3s available on, etc to my device. Or I should be able to connect via USB and copy files other than pictures over.

    This single limitation is about to drive me to android even though I otherwise like iOS.

  11. Howard

    For me, my biggest frustration is that notifications are pushed, but not their resolution. If I acknowledge a Faceboook notification on my computer or iPad for example, it should update and remove the notification from my iPhone.

    • Thats not really apples fault, its app specific that facebook or what not should take care of. you really couldnt build that into iOS.

      • Pierre

        Sure you could. If I click on a notification, get rid of it. And while they’re at it, they should fix the now-broken notification count on individual app icons.

    • Double click your home button, then when the list of apps that are running pops up, press and hold one of them until they “wiggle” as they would if you were moving apps on the home screen. Press the red X at the corner of the app and it closes it.

      • Peter Deep

        You don’t need to load more ringtones, there are already plenty. I can’t believe this person didn’t know how to do that already. It’s iPhone 101 and has been around from the beginning, if I’m not mistaken. I remember changing the sounds for mail, messages, etc. right from the start.