Thinking about iOS6
Since it has yet to be announced and everybody and their uncle has already chimed in with what they want and think we will see in the next major iteration of Apple’s iOS, I figured it was about time for me to say my thoughts on a few things.
Files and file management
Often lamented upon, we cannot see or really do anything with “files” on iOS. Many claim that the solution to this would be to give us a Files.app, in the same veins as the Photos.app that comes with the system.
I won’t presume to know how to do things better as I am sure Apple won’t do anything like what I would suggest anyway. However, I don’t see Apple giving up on their tossing out of some 30 years of computer conventions on iOS by giving us what would pretty much be the Finder. From the first iPhone we have been unable to see files as we have been taught to think of our information over the last couple of decades, and instead we only see things as photos, videos and documents. Kind of how PARC did it with the Alto, back in the 1970s. As much as many of us who have been used to computers for some time might complain about the lack of interaction with the file system, for most people it’s a better solution.
Naturally I would also like it to be easier to pass documents, photos and videos around between apps, but I’m sure there are better ways to do it than to give us the old file metaphor back again. I’m not too familiar with Windows Phone 7 yet, but from what I gather Microsoft have come up with a rather clever way of passing information between apps, while still having sandboxing active.
Whatever Apple decides to do, I don’t think we’ll see any kind of visible file system on iOS, nor will we get anything like the Files.app that some people have suggested. An easier way to shuffle data between apps might come, but the “file” metaphor will stay in the past and on conventional computers.
Things I often hear people want to have is something akin to the widgets often found on Android, and sometimes even like the live tiles on Windows Phone 7. In conjunction with the recent speculation and rumors about a elongated screen on the next model iPhone some have also suggested that the “extra” space could be used for an ever present information area where you could have widgets of your choice. Kind of like notification center, but you can always see it no matter where you are, what you are doing and regardless of what app is running in the foreground.
Personally I have not found the information density to be problematic on the iPhone, but if you are in the mood of having lots of widgets and little notifications on screen I can see how it would be a sub-par experience for many people. Leaving more stuff on the screen all the time doesn’t strike me as a very Apple thing to do, and I don’t think I would like staring at a given space on the screen always being occupied by the same information. Naturally that doesn’t mean anything and if Apple thinks it’s the right way to go, they’ll do it. I just don’t think they will.
Themes, skins and such
It’s Apple we’re talking about here. The two ”themes” in Mac OS X have been Blue and Graphite since before I got on the Mac bandwagon back in 2005. Let’s just say it’s unlikely you’ll see anything beyond stock iOS looks any time soon, unless you jailbreak. Coherent user interface on all devices wins any day, even if that means you can’t do more than customize the background image and lock screen background. Seeing what horrors people can manage with those two alone, I’d say it’s more than enough…
While I don’t think the approach Apple chose in iOS is as good as the one in webOS, at least in terms of how things are represented to the user, I’m also not sure that Apple is in any mood to change it any time soon. Changing the visual representation of multitasking apps would be a bit of a problem in that a lot of people would be confused simply because they know how it works now. Then again, Apple have proven willing to chuck out old cruft in favor of something they deem better in the long run, like with Final Cut X.
Mostly I hear people talking about ”Apple should rip off webOS” in relation to multitasking, and I guess I can’t really disagree with that. Personally, I think Palm really nailed it when they went with the cards metaphor in webOS! Something more along those lines would be nice, but I wouldn’t expect it to happen, in all honesty. Apple undoubtedly have some ideas for how to go about improving the multitasking experience, and I have absolutely no idea how.
Game Center improvements
It’s something I do see Apple taking a bit more of an interest in and it could definitely do with some heavy improvements. There are a lot of interesting features Apple could add, and keep expanding on how they started giving advice of other games inside Game Center.
App Store, iTunes Store, iBook Store…
Consolidation or baking into other apps? I think I’ve heard people talking about making one, singular store for all types of content, kind of like how iTunes is on Mac and Windows. But just as often do I hear people complain about how everything is baked into the behemoth that is iTunes on Mac and Windows and they don’t want any of that on iOS too.
Again, I can’t see too much of a problem with it personally. But I can absolutely see how it is confusing for any newcomer to the platform. What do you get in which store? It’s not as obvious as you might think if you have no frames of reference, based on experience in using iOS or other Apple devices. I really don’t have a good answer for what Apple can do, but I can see how there is room for improvement.
There is also the interesting possibility of relegating the apps to a specific app store inside Game Center, which I have heard mentioned a few times. It’s an interesting idea and it makes sense, at least to some extent.
Naturally there are a ton of other things one can take into consideration when talking about a yet unannounced operating system such as iOS, but I’ll leave it at these points. Of all the noise I’ve heard and seen lately, these things stand out more than the rest.
To finish this whole thing off, I’d just like to give you my own little list of things I’d love for Apple to do in iOS6, whenever they choose to release it upon the world.
My, humble, iOS6 wish-list:
• Multiple e-mail signatures
• Siri API, so other apps can add to it and tie into it
• The ability to at least hide the built-in apps (Stocks, I’m looking at you!)
• Being able to capture video in 24fps and switch between 720p and 1080p in the built-in camera app
• Universal sleep time for notifications (I don’t like being woke up by notifications!)