So, yesterday I blathered a bit about iOS 6. In writing that piece, I found myself thinking — a lot — “Gee, I hope in the next version, Apple will X, Y, and maybe Z.” So, I decided to spin those thoughts off into their own little post…
Meaning, yes, even though iOS 6 just hit servers, I am already fantasizing and speculating about the next version. Hey, I write novels — this is what I do!
Here are some things I think we’re overdue for…
App returns/trial periods: Right now, the only way to try out an app is to buy it. And if you buy an app that turns out not to be what you want/need, you’re pretty much stuck. It’s not impossible to get a refund from Apple, but it’s not easy, either. Granted, most apps are dirt cheap, so odds are you won’t be out much money if you buy the wrong app, but still — it’s not the amount of money at issue here. It’s the principle. Wasting two bucks feels lousy because it’s a waste, not because it’s two bucks. Apple should let us download an app for twenty-four hours, after which it will deactivate unless we pay for it.
Yes, I’m aware that Apple loathes “trialware” and I’m aware that many apps have a free “Lite” version for just such purposes. But not all apps lend themselves to some sort of neutered Lite version. And trialware is typically crap that comes preinstalled — in my formulation, users would be requesting the trial, not having it forced on them.
This would encourage experimentation and also allow developers to raise prices and end the race to the bottom. I know — you’re freaking out that I want prices to rise! Well, I do! Right now, there’s some great software being produced by people who can’t afford to keep maintaining it because prices in the App Store are too low to make it worth their while. Allowing more devs to make some actual money means more and better apps in the store. I’d be more willing to spend money on apps if I knew I could return them if I got a bad one.
Set third-party apps as defaults: Why can’t I set my own camera, browser, calendar, e-mail, etc. apps? I know such apps are available, but they don’t accept the system’s default behaviors. Apple should be secure enough in its offerings to allow power users to swap out more robust apps. If they’re worried about less sophisticated users becoming confused, well… What are the odds such users would even take advantage of this option anyway?
More specialized screens: Right now, the iPhone has three kinds of screens, each of which perform specific functions. The home screen(s) hold(s) your app icons. The Notification Center (the screen you pull down from the top) has the Weather widget and notifications. And the Spotlight screen (swipe left from the primary home screen) lets you search the device.
I want one more. Let me have a customized widget screen, showing live information from whatever apps I choose. Where would this live? Well, it could be another left-swipe, but then we start to get into an infinitely-long horizontal loop and we’ll keep adding left screens and it’ll be tough to get to them.
I say, let’s add a pull up screen — the opposite of Notification Center. Call it, I dunno, Command Center or Information Booth or something. You swipe up from the bottom of the screen and — ta-da! — there are your widgets!
RTF: I’ve wanted support on the iOS gadgets for rich text format from day one. C’mon, Apple! There’s a slew of excellent plain text editors in the App Store already — let’s make them all excellent rich text editors, too. (If this support is already there and just waiting for developer implementation, I apologize.)
iCloud improvement: iCloud is pretty cool, but its strict adherence to an app-to-app model is hamstringing it. For example, on my Mac, Preview can save to iCloud, but those files are then invisible and useless unless I want to open them in other iterations of Preview on other Macs. Only Preview can read Preview in iCloud.
Solution: Let me give apps “permission” to access each other’s iCloud stores, so that, for example, I can save a PDF from Preview into iCloud, then open it with iBooks or GoodReader on my phone or iPad.
Siri: Sports and such is cute, but I don’t care what the NFL standings are. Let me control apps with Siri. “Launch Pocket Casts. Play Build and Analyze.”
Let me train Siri to recognize specific words and names I use. Let me teach her shortcuts (“Siri, punch it” = fire up my web browser, go to Macrumors.com, and put the first story into my Reading List).
Let me use Siri offline! Before the introduction of Siri, Apple had a feature called Voice Control, which allowed you to play music and call people with your voice, without needing an internet connection. Let’s get that back so that I’m not always at the whim of Siri’s servers or a dicey signal.
Teach Siri the iPhone itself. Why can’t I adjust brightness and volume with my voice? Why can’t I turn wifi on and off without taking the phone out of my pocket and poking at the screen?
Lastly: Take Siri out of beta. This is supposed to be a big feature and it’s been a year at this point. “Improvement” doesn’t mean, “Now Siri knows who Kobe Bryant is!” “Improvement” means “Now Siri doesn’t have to think for thirty-five seconds when I say, ‘Play Springsteen.'”
EDITED TO ADD: I forgot one thing in my original draft — App Store Wish Lists! In iTunes, you can flag an app to be added to your wish list, but in iOS, you can neither add to your Wish List nor even see it! C’mon, Apple! Add this in!
How about you, though? Other than a functioning map app, what would you like to see in iOS 7?