As we’re getting closer to the event, rumors about the new features in iOS 7 has started trickling in. Over the last few months, UI designers have also been busy coming up with interesting concepts to show us how Apple could re-imagine iOS that has been showing its age.
Our iOS 7 wishlist:
So without wasting any more time, here’s some of the features and improvements that we want to see in iOS 7 (not in any particular order).
Fresh new look:
While Apple has added hundreds of new features in every major version of iOS since it was launched in 2007, visually not much has changed. Apple was the first to introduce us to the modern smartphone by launching the iPhone, but with the launch of Android, Windows Phone and BlackBerry 10 in recent years, it is in a strange position of being the oldest, and even the ardent Apple fans seem to agree that the age is showing.
We’ve already heard rumors that iOS 7 codenamed Innsbruck will feature a fresh new look with a “very very flat” interface instead of the heavy textures that we’ve been accustomed to.
This may sound biased, but in our opinion, iPhone 5 with the exquisite chamfer surrounding the Retina display is still the best looking smartphone in the market. However, iOS hasn’t kept pace with improvements we’ve seen on the hardware front.
So we’re super excited that the overhaul is being led by Jony Ive, Apple’s SVP of Industrial Design, who took over the design of iOS 7 from Scott Forstall.
We’re not looking for a radically different operating system, the way Microsoft has done with Windows 8, but we would like to see modernization of the user interface.
Apple introduced the Weather and Stock widgets in iOS 5. We hope that Apple announces APIs that will allow developers to create custom widgets, which could either work standalone or could be an extension to their existing apps. We’ve seen quite a few cool custom widgets created by jailbreak developers.
If Apple does end up allowing developers to create custom widgets, then we would like to see a separate tab or page for widgets in the Notification Center to avoid cluttering it.
Improved Notification system
Here are some of improvements we’re looking for in iOS’ notification system:
Currently, the notifications are kind of read only, when you tap on them, they launch the relevant app, that allows us to take the appropriate action. However, that’s too basic. If we get an email we would want to be able to reply to it, delete it, or mark it as spam right from the Notification center, the banner notification or the lock screen.
The notification for a missed call is probably one of the few actionable notification, when you tap on it, it calls the person who tried to reach you earlier. However, we would like to be able to take this to the next level. It would nice to get the Reply and Remind me later options even for missed calls.
Actionable notification will greatly improve our productivity.
- Access to Notification Center from the Lock screen with the ability to disable it for users who have privacy concerns.
- Ability to dismiss notifications in the Notification center with gestures rather than the current cumbersome method of hitting the small cross icon and clear button.
- Ability to dismiss all notifications in one go.
- Ability for Siri to read notifications, which can be very useful while driving. The feature could be enabled or disabled with a toggle.
We need a faster way to enable or disable settings without the need to leave an application. Currently, using the Settings app is painfully slow and interrupts what we’re doing.
Apple could add give us quick access to the Settings toggles via the Notification Center. It would also mean that we will be able to access the toggles from anywhere in iOS and will be able to enable or disable them without having to leave the app that we’re currently using.
We should be able to access toggles from a separate tab or page in Notification Center.
File Manager for iOS:
We need a better way to manage the files on our iOS device. We essentially need something like the Camera roll for files, so that we can access files that we have received via email or files that we’ve downloaded (it is not available yet, but we’ll talk about it in a bit). The files should also be synced or available across our iOS devices via iCloud, so we can access them from all our devices. It could be a dedicated app or it could be something like Finder in OS X.
The dedicated app or Finder app should be accessible from the Mail app so that we can attach different file types to an email like we do on our computer.
Improved Maps app
However, Apple hasn’t rolled out any major improvements for its Maps app. In the meantime, Google has taken the lead by launching its own Maps app for the iPhone. So Apple needs to make some major improvements to the Maps app if it wants users to use it as the default app.
Here are some of the improvements and new features we would like to see in the Maps app:
- Improved point of interest database
- Reliable turn-by-turn directions
- Dynamic re-routing – If iOS identifies an incident in our route, it will give us an early warning with an option to select a faster route.
- Street view-like feature
- Offline maps – the Maps app needs an internet connection. Offline maps would allow you to use the Maps app in places such as a basement car park or in an area where there is poor or no network coverage.
- In-door maps
- Speed alerts – ability to enable voice alerts when you exceed the speed limits.
One of our favorite camera features is the Lock screen shortcut, which gives us quick and easy access to the camera app.
iOS also comes with shortcuts to tweet and post updates from the Notification center. We want iOS 7 to expand this feature and offer shortcuts to compose a new email, new text message, access the camera app from the Notification Center so they can be accessed from anywhere in iOS.
Although Apple pioneered the idea of an ecosystem of third-party apps back in 2008, years later inter-app communication is still crippled. Apple did add sharing to a few social networks and services, but it isn’t nearly as flexible as Android or Windows Phone’s sharing system. The ideal mechanism would be to let apps register themselves for certain kinds of data like photos, links, text etc., and then be able to receive this data from any app that creates such data. So any in-app browser would let you save links to Pocket, any editor would let you save text to Evernote and so on. All that exists right now are URL schemes which are hacks at best, and not at all user or developer friendly.
Ability to Change Default apps:
While it seems unlikely, it would be nice to be able to change the default app. For example: We should be able to make Tweetbot – the default Twitter client.
Currently only the following type of apps are allowed to run in the background:
- Apps that play audible content to the user while in the background, such as a music player app
- Apps that keep users informed of their location at all times, such as a navigation app
- Apps that support Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP)
- Newsstand apps that need to download and process new content
- Apps that receive regular updates from external accessories
- allow apps like Dropbox and news app to work in the background.
It is high time Apple allows more type of apps to run in the background such as:
- Apps like Dropbox, Facebook, Google+ etc. that auto upload content to cloud services so they don’t have to use the geofencing hack.
- News app so they can get real-time updates so that we don’t have wait for a few seconds for them to be updated.
Some may argue that it was the simplicity of iOS that has made iPhone and the iPad so successful, and adding gestures will kill what made these devices successful in the first place.
However, gestures designed to increase productivity can greatly improve the user experience of an operating system. The gestures should be designed in such a manner that they help in improving productivity of those who are willing to learn them such as the four-five finger multitouch gestures available on the iPad, but at the same time they do not increase the learning curve for a regular user.
Here are some of the gestures we would like to see in iOS 7:
- Swipe up from the bottom to reveal the mutitasking bar.
- Swipe from right to left to dismiss a notification.
- Swipe gestures in the Mail app to jump to the next or previous email.
- Gesture to switch between apps
It’s high time Apple gives power users some love by adding some more gestures.
Currently, when you tap on a notification for an email, text message etc, iOS launches the relevant app and exits the app you are currently using. If you want to go back to the app, you have to double press the Home button and again select the app from the multitasking tray.
Apple can fix this in iOS 7 by displaying the email, text message etc. as an overlay over the currently running app when a user taps on the Notification. This would allow users to quickly read the email or text message without exiting the app.
Users should have the option to enable it even on the Lock screen, so users who are paranoid about privacy can keep it disabled from the lock screen.
Third-party developers should also be able to support this feature.
Instead of launching an app to compose a new message or new email, iOS should popup a quick compose sheet like the one you get for posting tweets and status updates on Facebook. This would ensure that we don’t exit the current application if you want to quickly respond or send an email, message etc.
Third-party developers should also be able to add support for this feature.
Enhanced Lock screen
Currently, the iOS lock screens displays the date and time and notifications. It looks and feels awfully bland.
We should be able to add app widgets to the lock screen for things like the weather, upcoming calendar events, breaking news, RSS feed etc. so that the information is available at our fingertips without having to go through the hassle of unlocking the device.
Enhanced Home screen
Just like the lock screen, the home screen needs an overhaul as well. As I install more and more apps on my iOS devices, the home screen pages with app icons have become less and less relevant to me. I constantly rely on the services of Spotlight to launch an app.
So it would be nice to be able to search for apps, etc right from the Home screen using the Spotlight search bar at the top, especially with iPhone 5’s 4-inch display just the way you have on Android rather than having to swipe left to access Spotlight.
We should also be able to add app widgets to the home screen like the lock screen so that the information is available at our fingertips without having to launch an app. It could be a place for widgets that display sensitive information you won’t add to the lock screen.
iOS 6 included a number of call management features. However, iOS still doesn’t give us the ability block calls and text messages by blacklisting numbers.
We really hope that Apple adds the blacklist feature in iOS 7.
Automatic App Updates and rollback:
Keeping the app up to date is a manual process. iOS 7 should have an option where users can choose to download the app updates automatically in background.
It would also be nice if we can rollback a change if the update causes a problem. There have been various situations where the rollback option would have been useful.
While the iOS virtual keyboard has been one of the revolutionary features of the iPhone when it was launched, Apple hasn’t added any new features other than split keyboard feature for the iPad in iOS 5. We’re so used to it that it doesn’t make sense for Apple to revamp it as the learning curve would be too high.
One way to address this issue could be the option to install third-party keyboards like Swype. It’s one of the things that I really envy about Android users.
We hope that Apple brings the AirDrop feature to iOS 7. Just like in OS X, the feature should provide an easy way to share files between supported, Wi-Fi or Bluetooth enabled Macs and iOS devices, without having to connect through the local Wi-Fi network.
iCloud app data sharing
Just like local data, Apple in no way encourages iCloud apps to share data amongst themselves in any way. So if I create a note in iAWriter and choose to save it to iCloud, I can’t edit the same note in TextEdit on my Mac, whereas if I save it using Dropbox, I can open it in whatever application I want. Read more on this topic.
Predictive text while using iPhone’s virtual keyboard is very helpful but we need the ability to add words to the iPhone dictionary so that we can teach the iPhone to swear and stop it from trying to auto correct them.
iCloud export tool
Currently, there’s no Apple sanctioned way to export all the data that you have in iCloud. Google has Google Takeout, Facebook and Twitter have their own ways to request an archive of your data, but there’s no similar option for iCloud.
Well, that’s what we’re looking for in iOS 7. What about you? What would you like to see in iOS 7.
Credits: Rounak Jain contributed to this post.