A list of what’s still broken in iOS


I generally avoid reading blog posts in which the author outlines a feature wishlist or a list such as “this is what’s wrong and I want fixed”. That’s because more often than not wishlists turn out to be unreasonable demands to meet absolutely personal needs (there are people who want the Siri interface to use a serif font, I kid you not), and on a similar note, lists of what’s wrong typically express very personal points of dissatisfaction.

I made an exception for Chartier because I’ve been reading him for a long time and I know he knows better than doing such a thing. And his piece — I hope Apple gets back to basics in iOS 6 — doesn’t disappoint.

I share David’s frustration especially when he writes:

The Camera Roll is a mess and Photo Stream is its drunk, belligerent cousin that just came out of the woodwork. Yes, even after 5.1. We need a way to take iOS screenshots that don’t pollute our Apple TV screensavers. We need to be able to actually move photos to albums so they disappear from the Camera Roll.

(After five major iOS releases, I’m still baffled at the fundamental rudimentariness of the Photos app and the Camera Roll in particular).


We need control over default apps

Safari, Mail, Calendars, Contacts, and Twitter are great, but so are plenty of other apps. It was time for Apple to let us pick our own default apps when it launched the App Store in 2008, and it’s still time in 2012.


Easier toggles

Sometimes you just gotta turn stuff like WiFi, Bluetooth, Personal Hotspot, and your VPN off. Or on. And it’s always been a pain in the ass in iOS. Maybe they can become buttons at the top or bottom of Notification Center, maybe they can show up as homescreen widgets. They just need to show up.

Here, Apple could get some inspiration from webOS, as Lukas Mathis rightly suggested.

But this is where I agree with David the most:

AirDrop for iOS

There’s no easy way to send a document or photo from one iOS (or, really, any) device to another without signing up with some service, some ToS, some middle man that uses the internet (and no, Bluetooth file transfer doesn’t quite cut it). Apple applied an arguably post-PC solution to this problem in OS X by introducing AirDrop with Lion. AirDrop sure would make a good bullet item for iOS 6, and perhaps a great addition next to the “Open In” action arrow option.

This is probably the most vocal complaint I’ve heard from friends who switched to the iPhone from a previous non-smartphone: “I want to just find your phone via Bluetooth or on the same Network and send you this photo or ringtone. I was able to do that with my old [Nokia / SonyEricsson / Siemens etc.] with other similar phones, but with the iPhone or iPod touch the process is so absurdly counter-intuitive and cumbersome. Why can’t I just use Bluetooth?” (Okay, I constructed their complaint in a more polite language, but that’s the gist of it).

A possible ‘AirDrop for iOS’ feature would be just a great idea and I really wish Apple makes it happen. (If it does, I bet it’ll keep the name for consistency’s sake).

David, too, complains about Home screen management which, apart from the introduction of Folders with iOS 4, has essentially been the same since day one:

I have 172 apps on my iPhone, and while I’m sure that’s on the high end, I’m also sure I’m not the only one who feels that iOS’s options for managing all this could use… something. Whether it’s a new perk or two or a complete rewrite from byte one, I just hope Apple’s engineers are way ahead of me here.

As I’ve said in Rebuilding the toy box:

My hunch is that the Home screen is still the way it is because it has come to a point where there’s little room left to innovate inside the current model. What’s faster than seeing an app icon and tap on it to launch it? We are back to my previous question: if the model has to change, what is a better (simpler, more usable, friendlier) model? When you think about possible alternatives, remember that there is a delicate balance at stake here, the balance Apple has been so good at maintaining so far: increasing functionality without complicating the user interface and user interaction. Remember that iOS’s interface is what has won lots of non-tech people and has shown them that computer and devices can be friendly, useful and fun to use. Any future innovative move has to take into account all these factors.

So I don’t really know what Apple can do to make things easier for those with hundreds of apps on their iOS devices. Apps are apps, the size of their icons is perfect for most fingers, the size of the iPhone screen doesn’t allow for more apps inside a page, the multitasking tray is already a viable shortcut for recently used apps, as is using the Spotlight screen. Short of using voice commands to launch apps, I don’t know if there’s a quicker way left to access iOS apps. Let’s see what kind of rabbit Apple will pull out of the top hat. Again, I’m fine with the current way of managing/accessing apps (I have ‘only’ 108 installed on my iPhone 4), so I’m not holding my breath for a change here. But David Chartier’s list of what’s still in need of a fix in iOS is definitely spot-on.

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