With WWDC just over one month away, I decided to sit down and think about what is missing from iOS for me and honestly there's not much on that list. iOS in general is a fantastic mobile OS - its easy to use, extremely secure and has a ton of great applications. The few things that would make the user experience better, for me, are as follows...
Control Center was introduced last summer at WWDC and was a well needed update to iOS. A quick swipe up from the bottom of the screen reveals Control Center where you have instant access to some settings like Airplane mode, WiFi, Bluetooth, Do Not Disturb and rotation lock. In addition, you are also able to access music controls, AirDrop, AirPlay, screen brightness and some apps such as flash light, calculator stopwatch & camera. The choice of apps is where I would like to see some improvement.
I love Control Center & I use it all the time, but if the user had the oppertunity to customize the apps available, that would make it even better. For instance, I found flashlight to be surprisingly handy for me and camera access is a given, but I rarely use Stopwatch or Calculator. This basically makes 2 of the 4 app spots in Control Center a waste of space. The idea of giving the user the ability to put their favorite apps in Control Center would lead to endless possibilities. Imagine swiping up and being able to launch your favorite Twitter client or instantly make a call to a specific contact or even getting a quick glance at your Instagram feed. Pretty awesome right? My ideal Control Center would be Tweetbot, Downcast, Flashlight and Camera.
Notification Center was introduced with iOS 5 and gave the user the opportunity to see any notifications they may have missed. When iOS 7 was released, Notification Center was completely revamped and broken into 3 sections, "Today", "All" and "Missed". In "Today" view, you can see your calendar along with improved stocks & weather information and estimated travel time home or frequent location. In iOS 7, your device learns your location habits and alerts you how long it will take you to get to your next destination. The "All" tab shows you all of your notifications. This is pretty much the same as it was when introduced in iOS 5. The "Missed" tab is kind of pointless. It shows you any missed notifications since the last time you checked notification center. Like I said, pointless if you ask me. Apple should remove the "Missed" tab and just have "Today" and "Notfications". They could incorporate predictive context into the "Today" tab to improve upon it.
Setting Default Apps
I know this is a touchy subject for some people, but remember this is a wishlist for things I would like to see. Allowing users to set default applications would be a very welcomed addition. Some people are ok with using the stock applications on their device, and some people don't like them and would like to change them. For me, I would like to set the Yahoo Weather as the default weather app and Mailbox as the default Mail app but Apple doesn't allow that to happen. If I want to send an email from Mailbox, I have to launch the app. If I am sending a support email from Tweetbot, it opens the stock Mail app and sends it from there. With allowing users to select their own defaults, I would be able to send emails directly from Mailbox instead of the Mail app – this just gives the users more choices. If people want to change they can, if they don’t - that’s okay too. Android has allowed this for a long time now and I honestly don't know why Apple hasn’t switched yet. Change is good, and could possibly sway more people to switch to iPhone.
Quick Reply for Messages
Message notifications used to be ugly. Remember those giant bubbles that popped up on the screen and would stay there until you acknowledged the alert? Well, with iOS 5, the bubble was improved to a banner, which came across the top of the screen and allowed users to remain in an app without getting booted out. When the banner appears, you have the option of tapping it to read the Message (you’ll be switched into the Messages app and will have to double tap the home button and go back to the app you were in) or swiping up on the banner and remaining in the app without interruption.
I would like to see the ability to reply to the message right then and there and immediately continue in the app. There is a jailbreak tweak that allows for this - watch the video below for a quick demonstration.
Apple has definitely improved notifications but this would probably be the biggest and bestest improvement they could make.
Improved Siri & Voice Dictation
Siri & voice dictation came with iPhone 4S. Initially, both were unreliable and inconsistent. Siri would frequently fail to connect to Apple's servers thus resulting in frustration. Since the release of iOS 7, both have seen vast improvements. There is still one major downside when it comes to Siri & voice dictation - both services rely on a data connection. Siri still has to connect to Apple's servers to transcribe your request then act upon it. Voice dictation is the same way and that still fails frequently. Google's Now service can convert your voice to text on the device in real time eliminating the need to send your voice to the cloud, process, convert and then be delivered back to the device in text form. This is also available inside of Google's Search app which is available in the App Store.
I can understand Siri having to connect to the Apple server for certain things, weather, location services and searching for things. For simple tasks, send a message, create a new event, and reading my messages, there is no reason that can not be done on the device. The A7 chip in the iPhone 5S is more then powerful enough to process that, especially if third party apps can do it.
Improved iTunes Radio
For those of you that dont know, iTunes Radio is a streaming radio service from Apple. I love the service. I use it every day on my ride to and from work. There are some quirks with it such as not being able to share individual songs you are listening to, only stations. Another is you are not able to rate music in pre-defined radio stations, only stations you create.
iTunes Wish List
Not many people know there is an "Add to wish list" option in the share menu within theApp Store App & iTunes App. Unfortunately, that's all the wish list is good for, is adding apps or songs to the list. In my opinion, Apple needs to add notifications for when those items go on sale. I have to rely on appshopper.com for price drop notifications, but that’s only good for apps. What’s the point of adding an app to the wish list if it easily gets forgotten about? A simple push notification saying "This item on your wish list has dropped in price" would be nice. I wouldn't have to rely on a 3rd party service for that any longer. Something else that would be nice is the gifting of free apps. It may not make a whole lot of sense but there are times I tell people to download an app because its temporaily free and by the time they get to it, its too late.
These are just some of the things I’d love to see in iOS 8. Most should be easy to accomplish, others may not be. I really feel Apple should improve Siri, Voice Dictation and add quick reply to the messages app. iTunes Radio improvements have been rumoredalong with a centralized document location. WWDC is not too far away so we’ll be seeing iOS 8 soon. The real question is what will be included. 9to5mac has a nice iOS 8 preview showing it to be heavily focused on health care and optimization of iOS. So until June 2, 2014, we will just have to hope and dream of what will be included in the next installment. Let me know what you would like to see improved upon or added to in iOS 8 in comments or on twitter!
There are 2 things I wanted to add.
3rd party app integration for Siri. Using Siri with of the thousands of apps available in the App Store would vastly increase the usability of Siri.
Predictive keyboard entry. I use a Windows Phone 8 for work and that is the only thing I like about the software, maybe 8.1 will change my mind but thats another story. The predictive keyboard allows me to get emails and text messages out quickly. iOS does an ok job at auto correct but if predictive entry were available there would be less of a need for auto correct.