Even though iOS 7 is far from hitting our iDevices any time soon, it is, however, kind of fun to dream up what Apple might include in its next major release of the OS. Below, I’ve come up with a shortlist of features and improvements that I think Apple could incorporate into the OS in order to make it that much better:
User Interface improvements
If you pay close attention to any of Apple’s apps, you’ll notice that they try to resemble a related object, for example, the Contacts app looks strikingly similar to an actual contacts book that you may have used in the past. This is called skeuomorphism, and while it has no real function, little things like this help people to understand what the app does. Mostly, Apple uses skeuomorphism quite well in its products, in fact, it’s what makes Apple products so approachable to those who aren’t computer literate. However, it does limit designers from using designs that are more abstract. Jony Ive, who now has a say in the software aspects of a product, and who reportedly isn’t a fan of skeuomorphism, may be the one who phases out the practise to allow more contemporary designs, while hopefully being able to retain the same ease-of-use that Apple products are renowned for. To be honest though, we probably won’t necessarily see a radical overhaul in this release of iOS. Overhauls of this size take a long time to perfect, so it could be more likely that we may see a major UI overhaul in iOS 8 (or later) rather than iOS 7.
The Verge has a great concept for how the lock screen, for example, could be redesigned here.
Widgets (or something similar)
As most iPhone/iPad users are probably aware, it is sometimes cumbersome to have to launch an app every time to check your Facebook notifications, the latest news/weather or the sports scores. While iOS 5 and 6 tried to alleviate some of the headache with the Notifications Center and Facebook Integration, the implementation of widget APIs for developers will let users see the latest information by simply looking at the widget (or whatever Apple’s interpretation of a widget is). The video above shows how such a feature (as well as many other features) could be implemented into iOS.
Settings in the Notifications Center
Again, as most iPhone users in particular would be aware, it is an absolute pain to change basic settings such as the screen brightness, Bluetooth and Wi-Fi on iOS. In Apple’s mind, these settings don’t really need to be accessed that often, so it’s just fine to leave them in the Settings app, but in real life, this is not the case. At certain times you might want your Bluetooth on, at other times you might not. The same goes for Airplane Mode. Thankfully, jailbreakers have come up with an effective solution you can see above. The only problem now is that you must have a jailbroken iOS device, so if you don’t want to break free of iOS’s walled garden, you’ll have to live without it until Apple decides to do their own take of it.
Improved Maps Application
This is a given. Without a doubt, Apple and its map data providers have been working tirelessly to fix the many problems users have been encountering since its public release. In iOS 7, any problems that relate to the actual application inside iOS should be fixed.
AirDrop is a neat little feature in OS X that lets you transfer files between Macs by simply dragging files to the AirDrop folder in the Finder, much like the AirForShare app found in the iOS App Store. It is a really handy feature, and it could become even more handier if the feature is added to iOS devices. Yes, iCloud is meant to do pretty much the same thing autonomously, but giving people the option to drag and drop videos, pictures, documents and possibly even music without syncing can make life a little easier for those who want to transfer content to their iOS devices at short notice.
Choice of weather service on the native weather app
I’m not sure whether this is the case for the US (or anywhere else), but here in Australia, the Weather app built into iOS is hopelessly inaccurate. There have been countless times when the temperature is a few degrees off, or the forecast is wrong, compared to other weather services. There are many really good weather apps available on the App Store, but turning to them will mean that you’ll have to sacrifice all the integratedness of the native weather app, including Siri functionality. So allowing other services to supply the data to the app would obviously give users more choice, and will allow them to access more precise weather predictions.
Third party API for Siri
Siri, even though still in beta, has some massive potential for interacting better with your iOS device. The beta tag may be on Siri for a little while longer because of speech recognition problems and long waiting times that are experienced by some users, but once those problems are worked out, it will let Apple do more exciting things with the technology. One of the things that I hope Apple will do is allow app developers to incorporate Siri right into their apps. Imagine, for example, asking Siri to change songs in services like Spotify or Rdio, or to fetch new articles that may have been published on Flipboard. Again, we may not see Siri exit the beta stages in iOS 7, but once it does, the possibilities would be endless.
As it stands today, iOS is outstanding in terms of how it gives life to most of Apple’s mobile devices. It looks playful and easy to use, while still remaining powerful enough to do things that most people would have previously thought were impossible to do on a mobile device. In short, it’s a wonderful mobile platform, but as I’ve discussed here, it can get much better with just some slight improvements.
Update: We have a part 2 to our iOS 7 (and beyond) article. Head here to check it out.