This year’s World Wide Developer’s Conference for Apple was a success and a disappointment in a lot of ways. On the positive side, we did get a Macbook Pro with a Retina display. That’s pretty cool. On the negative side, there was the iOS 6 announcement. Maybe it was just us, but Apple’s demonstration of the new features in the latest version of its mobile OS seemed lackluster. Sure, they added features, but it seemed like they focused on adding things that weren’t very helpful.
Maps looked pretty cool, but that was really it. The most damning part of the iOS 6 announcement was that it left us simply unexcited. There wasn’t a killer new feature, something that would grab the attention of a press and an industry focused on the latest from Google and even Microsoft. Don’t get us wrong, though. Apple could have sent shockwaves of excitement through the industry if they’d announced certain features. Here are some things that would have make us anticipate iOS 6 more.
When it first came out, iOS looked fine. Apple’s design aesthetics are the best in the industry, and it really shows in their OS. iPhones were smooth, sexy, and promised the future in your hand.
Fast-forward five years and iOS is looking a bit… well, old. Maybe we’re just spoiled by getting a taste of Jelly Bean, but Apple’s mobile OS is really beginning to show its age. The boring blue coloring and wholesome white shapes make for a safe and utterly uninteresting experience. Compared to Jelly Bean’s dark gradients and neon highlights (and even Windows Phone, to an extent), iOS looks old-fashioned.
There is an easy way for Apple to fix this problem. They won’t even have to spend a penny. All Apple has to do is install an official theme store and open it to developers. Apple-supported custom themes would be a great way to spice up the look of iOS and encourage more developer support.
The only problem with this approach is filtering out the crap. In any given theme store, 95% of the themes are hideous aberrations that no one in their right mind would download. Just look at Cydia. It would be genuinely difficult to weed out the crap to find the lowly 5% of themes that are actually good.
Still, we can’t help but think that an official theme store would be cool as hell. It would raise revenue for Apple and freshen up iOS in one fell swoop. So why not?
Here’s something you rarely ever see- Microsoft is ahead of the Apple on something. In the announcement for Windows Phone 8, Microsoft said that you will be able to adjust the size of your live tiles to create a customized screen.
We can’t help but think that feature would be greatly appreciated on iOS. The basic design behind the springboard hasn’t changed in five years. Isn’t it time to have customizable icons? We would love to set up a page of icons of different sizes.
Speaking of updating the springboard, when is Apple going to get widgets? Right now, there’s no way to display information on the springboard. You can get notifications, but that’s about it. Even Windows Phone has live tiles. That’s just embarrassing if you lose to Windows Phone.
Widgets are good for more than quickly checking information, though. We have a panel of quick power controls on our launcher on Android. It makes it easy to quickly turn on the flashlight or toggle wireless tethering. With a good widget, you don’t need to dig through the settings.
Did we mention digging through the settings? A great feature for iOS 7 maybe would be the addition of quick toggles in the notification menu. Putting the weather there is a good start, but it’s not enough. We’d love access to stuff like wifi, 3G, and ringer mode.
What’s so baffling about this idea is that it’s not new. Android has had quick toggles since forever. There’s been a great jailbreak app sbSettings since iOS 3 that does exactly this. sbSettings is one of the most stable and helpful jailbreak tweaks we’ve downloaded.
So, the toggles can be done. We honestly do not understand why Apple hasn’t done it then.
More Support for Older Devices
Android catches a lot of flak for the atrocious way in which it handles updates. Usually it goes Google announces a new version of Android, the phone manufacturers make excuses why they only bother to update the last three devices they’ve made, and a significant portion of Android gets left behind.
What isn’t said as often is that iOS suffers from essentially the same problem. Every update, Apple supports fewer and fewer of its previous products. The only way to be assure that you will receive an update (and all the features in it) is to buy the very latest Apple product.
That’s absurd. It’s not OK when Android does it, and it’s not OK for Apple to do it either. The only devices that get the full iOS 6 feature list are the new iPad and the iPhone 4S. Our first-generation iPad doesn’t even get iOS 6. Not cool, Apple.
A Hardware Controller
iOS games get more complex by the day. However, they’re sort of hitting an upper limit. Games like Mass Effect: Infiltrator and Dead Space don’t play very well because they rely on touch screen dual analog sticks. Touch screen dual analogs are awful.
We would love to see an official Apple-branded physical controller for iOS. Maybe with some creative engineering it could attach itself to an iPhone and become a basic Game Boy. A controller would go a long way toward cutting into the handheld gaming market, an area traditionally dominated by Nintendo.
If nothing else, it would be fantastic for jailbroken emulators. We won’t hold our breath for this, though, as the likelihood is around zero of it ever happening.
Is any of this likely to happen? …No, probably not. The features we have listed here are undoubtedly cool, but they really don’t go with the Apple vision of simplicity (and control). We’ll hold out hope, though. Maybe someday.