At 148Apps, we use iOS a lot. I mean, a LOT. What may be an inconvenient feature to the average user is possibly a daily chore to folks like us, who use their iPhones and iPads every day, hour after hour.
As we sat and talked about our hopes and dreams for the next version of Apple’s mobile operating system, iOS 7, we figured it might be cool to get a couple more folks in on the conversation, like Aaron Watkins, a public relations guru with Appency, and Tim Harris, currently President of Industrial Toys, developer of the much anticipated upcoming core sci fi shooter game, Morning STar.
Aaron Watkins, Appency
One of the trends I've seen recently is brilliant software developers coming up with much improved versions of native apps. Better mail, better calendars, better contacts apps... yet it's still impossible to get rid of the apps that came with the device (Newsstand can’t even be put in a folder!). We've had better maps now for quite a while - Apple's own attempt at maps has been a bit of a disaster and I would venture to guess that more people use third party map apps like Google for their navigation needs.
That being said - Apple needs to give the maps app a feature face-lift. Automatic routing when you go off course has huge room for improvement, and searching for items along a route would be a great cure for my Starbucks habit.
Along the line of phone organization for the OCD - as the hard drive space gets larger and larger in progressive phones, more and more apps end up on our phones and I would love to see folders within folders to do additional subdivision of content. The same goes for contacts, where the ability to create contact groups needs to be available on the phone itself.
The app store itself has plenty of room for update. The native phone app store on its last major redesign went from a place where the top 10 apps were readily visible to a system where its really the top 4 that get all the visibility. A combination of the best elements of the last version and this version would be an ideal solution. With the problems associated with app discovery, it would be great to see more categories - but my pie in the sky hope would be a system in which third parties could create white labeled app stores that used an iTunes based system and billing mechanism, but allowed others to create their own curated content stores that they could locate on their own websites. Why cant a travel magazine have their own iPhone app store where they highlight the best apps they have looked at, and sell them directly on their website without all the current redirection.
Oh - and one last thing - developers need to be able to respond to reviews in the app store. Its basic customer service!
Rob LeFebvre, 148Apps
Good stuff, Aaron. There is lots of room for improvement in discovery, including categories and stuff. A curated app store for different groups would be cool, too.
Personally, I'd like to see the iOS update to include a lot of the stuff we're seeing from Android, like more customizable home screens, widgets, and the ability to define default apps, even if they're not Apple ones.
I'd love to be able to turn wireless and Bluetooth on and off without having to dig for the Settings app, and for gods sake, let us login to multiple accounts on the App store. Sigh.
I'm also really hoping for a better, more unified look and feel. The skeuomorphic stuff gets a bad rap, and while I don't think it's that big a deal, I'd love to see a flatter, less faux-anything look and feel.
I'd like to see Game Center improved, as it just feels kind of tacked on, right now. And lets get it on Android, or just give up and embrace Google's new push.
That's all I can think of at the moment, I'm sure I'll chime in more as the discussion gets going.
Carter Dotson, 148Apps
What I really want to see from iOS 7 beyond just a new visual look is something that significantly streamlines and de-clutters the user experience. Are we so sure that the standard grid of icons is still the best way to go about using the multitude of apps on our phone, especially with the sheer number that's out there? Why must I still go to Settings in order to turn basic settings on and off? As well, for those of us that have used iOS for years and have gotten used to the incremental changes, it's easy to forget that for many people, iOS has a lot of complex aspects to it.
Considering that Android and Windows Phone have experimented with different ways to display important content in creative ways, I would love to see an Apple take on making the experience more user-friendly and intelligent. If there's a better way to use our myriad devices here in 2013 with everything they're capable of, shouldn't it be Apple leading the way? iOS has felt static for a while, and I hope there's more than just a new coat of paint coming.
Tim Harris, Industrial Toys
I agree with the sentiments about management of apps, and my main hope is along those lines.
The running app tray needs work. There should be a more user friendly view to see what apps are running, and a better way to close them. The search screen and the pull-down screen are underutilized for this type of thing. The current "double tap the home button" sucks, and manually closing everything to free up the device suxxors. Toggles like Wifi, Do Not Disturb, and Airplane Mode should be easier to find and one click and allowing users to bring their most-used out of Settings and into “normal” screenspace would make life easier.
I’m also going to pile-on Rob’s Gamecenter thing. We’ve seen slight improvements to Game Center over the versions, but it’s never gotten to a level that game developers can get excited about (or users, for that matter). I’d love to see friending, challenging, incentivizing and deep-linking get better. Achievements should be able to be integrated into the games innards rather than being tacked on so that we have to write our own systems to make it all work. Points should mean/do something. Gimme gimme.
Jeff Scott, 148Apps
I think my big hopes are around openness. Rob mentioned this a bit with the ability to choose default apps, like Maps, email, browser. But I think it goes beyond that. App to app communication needs to be enhanced. We've seen really interesting things done with Audiobus, and Apple must love it since Garage Band was one of the first apps to support it. More of that for all media types or in general, data. Open up Siri, the notifications tray, basically loosen the grip. It can be done without making the phone look like some 13 year old kid has designed it.
Apple also need to open up with the App Store. Give developers the tools they need to sell, support, and grow. The App Store economy is larger than the GDP of most countries in the world. It's time to give it the support it needs. I have a gut feeling the reason not as much has been done is because iTunes is still based on the now ancient java based WebObjects. It's ancient, fragile, and a beast to change. It needs to be replaced, but that's no easy task.
And I agree with Carter on the look and the grid of icons. That hasn't changed since the first user interface, the Xerox Alto in 1973. Forty years is too long. Some may say that it works, but when you have 500 apps installed, it just doesn't work. We need a new interface, other than a grid of icons.
Search may be the answer to some of these issues. And I expect Apple to make some big advances with Siri, hopefully in iOS 7, but certainly going forward.
Now, the big one. The one I have been hoping for since the iPad was announced. Multi-user logins for iOS. In particular an iPad that is shared in a family. It's a must. Parents don't want kids in their email, kids don't want parents in their Clash of Clans villages. There is so much that could be done with a good multiuser system. I have too many ideas, but we'll save that for another time. But, to me, this is a must have, and it must be in iOS 7 because it was needed in iOS 5.
Basically, Apple really needs to bring it with iOS 7. I personally think they have been left in the dust by Google and Android. Even Windows Phone and Amazon have shown some insights and features that Apple should have and could have done first.
Tim Harris, Industrial Toys
Oh, yes-- I'd like to take a moment to be a crybaby. The existence of app updates destroyed my sanity, thus my tears. It's not that I hate updating much-loved and much-used software. Quite the contrary, I get excited about the latest and greatest from my favorite developers. However, the current iOS visits two very specific evils upon me, turning me into a compulsive update checker/reader/clicker:
1. it won't let me choose apps to automatically update when updates are available, and 2. it won't let me update as many applications as possible when I am short on drive space.
Every couple of weeks, I find myself with over 100 update notifications and when it gets to that level, I'm stuck updating every app click by click. Some intelligence to the app update process would save users tons of time and self-loathing. It would save developers angst, too, making valued updates more likely to reach their install base.
Rob LeFebvre, 148Apps
Alright, I'll whine a bit, too.
Please let me take care of the stupid red number at the top of my apps that use the badge notification icon. I'd really like a "mark all as read" option in Mail. I'd love to be able to have the red badge of shame go away when I open an app and close it - not just when I open an app, take care of all the stupid stuff, and then close it, 30 min later.
Also? Let's make it a lot easier to buy in-app purchases with one account when we originally "purchased" the app with another. Does it really matter which account we're using to download an app, vs. buying smurfberries for?
Aaron Watkins, Appency
As someone with kids, I dont know if making in-app purchases too much easier is a good thing- I dont want my 10 year old, or my 4 year old for that matter, purchasing things. That being the case, I would love to have kid modes where I can hand my iPad over to my youngest and only show for her apps that I have pre-selected as appropriate, and then do the same and have a different set for my 10 year old son. Maybe even a "play mode" and a "homework mode" that could be used in schools or for when you give your kid the device to look up vocab words and end up discovering he has been playing RoboKill the whole time.
Thanks to one and all for their time on this topic. Will Apple give any of us what we want? Only time will tell, as Apple is set to announce iOS 7 for the first time at WWDC this June. Keep your eye peeled (ew, gross) on 148Apps for all the lowdown when we know more.