What I Want in IOS 6

By the time IOS 6 likely comes out in the fall I’ll have been using IOS for two years.  Overall I enjoy my iPhone and iPad in spite of the occasional quirks.  No technology is perfect and I’m too much of a technically minded user to ever completely like any system that I didn’t create.  With IOS 6 likely to be announced soon, I thought I’d throw my two cents on the changes I’d like to see in the next version of Apple’s mobile OS.

A Common Documents Storage

Many of my annoyances with IOS would go away with this single change.  I’m not talking about a full file system access to everything on the device, but just a single document area that all apps can access.  I want to be able to create a file in QuickOffice and be able to edit it in Pages.  I want to be able to save a file as a PDF in one app and then read it in GoodReader later.  The independent silos where all apps are self contained mean I often have the same file on my device multiple times.  I think this is the biggest obstacle to using the iPad as a creation device.

Another thing a centralized document system would allow are easier email attachments and multiple attachments to an email.  Imagine being able to email two photos at the same time to someone.

Better Data at a Glance

With IOS an icon generally tells me nothing other than I can tap it to start an application.  I can get a number, but a single number can only tell you s much.  It’s useful for how many like unread messages or voicemails I have, but tells me nothing about who sent those messages or called.

Microsoft is doing this right in Windows Phone and Windows 8.  The weather apps shows me at a glance if I need my umbrella that day.  The sports app shows me who won last night.  I’d love a small block on my iPhone to show me these things.  When I’m busy let me find what I need and go.

Conduits Between Apps

Why does every developer have to write DropBox integration into their App?  Give an interface that app developers can write against and then let DropBox, SugarSync, Google Drive, and everyone else write their own handler of that interface.  If I want to use Microsoft’s SkyDrive to store my files, I don’t want to worry about if the developer chose to integrate it.  Let Microsoft write an implementation of SkyDrive and then every app instantly supports it.

This would work for so many things.  Let’s say I have a program to manage my photos on my device.  I use 500px to post my photography, so why not a search interface that let’s me search for photos there just like searching for photos on my device?  The integration options would really open up apps to the world.

Better App Organization

I really don’t need or want two folders with the same name because I have one more than the limit Apple decided I should keep in one.  There is no way that having Games 1 and Games 2 makes sense.  Let me put more things into a folder or even better let me put as much as I want into a folder.

Centralized Communication

I’ve always wanted a unified communication point.  I want all my email, text messages, even phone calls and voicemails in one place.  I want to see Facebook updates, RSS updates (yes I still use those), Google+ posts, and tweets there too.  Tie this in with the connectors mentioned above so that anybody could make their service available to the hub.

Bring my digital life to a centralized point and let me choose what I want to see at a given time.  If I’m meeting someone for dinner I may want to just look for any texts or emails from her or for a tweet about being traffic letting me know she’ll be a little late.  If I’m coming back from a week’s vacation in the mountains, I want to see everything work related from the last week, but only from co-workers.

Stop Worrying So Much if Apple Gets it Cut

I know this one has zero chance of happening, but it’s just an annoyance I’d like to see go away.  Apple seems determined to make sure nothing happens on the device where Apple doesn’t get it’s 30% cut.  Want to buy a book for the Kindle App?  Have to go to the web site as Apple’s rules would require Amazon to give Apple a 30% cut if it could be done there.

This simply makes my life less convenient and isn’t making Apple any more money.  Vendors have overwhelmingly shown that they’ll just remove the functionality to purchase in app and rely on their customers to find them somewhere else.  And it’s working.  I don’t use iBooks because it’s more convenient, I use Kindle because it’s what I want.  My audiobooks come straight from Audible.

That’s my wish list for iOS 6.  Anyone else with requests?

My First Couple Months with an iPhone

A couple weeks after getting an iPhone in mid-February, I wrote up a few thoughts on the new phone.  I thought that I’d add a few thoughts now that I’ve had more time to get used to the phone and really integrate it into my life.

In short I love the iPhone more now than then.  I’ve used a smartphone since getting a Motorola MPx220 that ran Windows Mobile back around 2004.  The iPhone works better than any phone I’ve had for just about everything.  With every other smartphone I’ve owned I’ve restarted it at least every once a week.  I have probably restarted the iPhone a couple of times in four months.  Using the phone just feels natural.

I really think that apps do much to improve the experience.  Without apps, the iPhone would just be a nice phone and not as useful as it’s become.  Actually the apps are half the story and the other part would be data.  Before I just used data for email and web browsing.  Now I use data all the time for Twitter, maps, and really everything.

Most of the concerns that I mentioned in my first post still bother me.  I did figure out how to get the alerts the way that I wanted, but I still feel it could be more flexible.  Six years of having phones that managed being silent or making noise when appropriate spoiled me.  I still find myself forgetting to set the phone to vibrate or, more often, forgetting to turn sound back on after a meeting.  One feature my earlier phone had was the ability to set the phone to be silent for a set period of time when you could estimate how long you’d want quiet such as when going into a restaurant or movie and then it would turn sound back on automatically.  I’d like to see that option.

The texting interface has grown on me.  I’m using texting more now and I’m not sure if the iPhone has led to more texting or if my greater texting led to me getting more used to the iPhone interface.

I decided to Jailbreak my phone and will be looking at the Cydia store to round off some of the rough edges.  Will report on what I find then.

Two Weeks with the iPhone

I’d never been that impressed with the iPhone until the iPhone 4 came out last year and I had the change to play with a friend’s phone.  The only problem was the AT&T exclusivity and my issues with AT&T locally had led me to Verizon after a number of years as an AT&T wireless customer.  AT&T has improved since then, but not enough to make me switch back (though they did finally deploy 3G data here back in early January).  So I was happy to hear the iPhone come to Verizon in early February.

I purchased an iPad last fall and it had largely converted me into the iOS camp.  I have no plans to replace my Windows computers with a Mac for day to day use, but using the iPad made me appreciate the simplicity of the system and the convenience of having a small and long life device for things like email, reading PDF documents, and the like.  I’ve really noticed some amazing benefits of integrating it into my work life, but that’s another post.

Still the experience with the iPad had me ready to look at an iPhone when it came time for a new phone in June.  The decision came a little earlier as the issues my phone had experienced since going for a little swim in a creek in the late summer had become much worse.  Finally they reached a point of becoming too annoying two weeks ago so I walked out into a Best Buy one Saturday afternoon and walked out with a 32 GB iPhone 4.

I like it.  The convenience of the apps cannot be overstated.  As a phone the iPhone really isn’t any better than the Windows Mobile phone it replaced, but the interface is smoother and the apps make the thing a true PDA in addition to a phone.  I’d have trouble going back even after just two weeks.

Even though I do love the phone I am surprised at some simple things the phone cannot do and may look into Jailbreaking to implement some of these.  First the texting interface is a bit weak to me.  I’m not a large text message user, but something about it just doesn’t working right for me.

I’m also amazed that the phone doesn’t have any way to automatically set it to vibrate or silent when my calendar shows me busy.  My much derided Windows Mobile phone could do this before the first iPhone even came out.  In addition the ability to configure alerts is weak.  I really don’t want to hear a tone if I get an email at 5 AM, but I would like the phone to ring or alert me to a text message.  I had an application on my Windows Mobile phone that would go to a silent mode at night for everything except phone calls for example and turn off bluetooth to save battery.  So far I’ve not been able to find anything like this for the iPhone that doesn’t involve hacking the phone.

These are mostly minor things and they don’t dampen my overall enjoyment of the phone, but I’d really like to see some of these added in the next iOS version.  And if I’ve missed any obvious fixes for the above problem, feel free to point them out in the comments.