My iOS 7 wishlist

While I can say with no doubt that iOS 6 is the best version of iOS released by Apple so far, I can still see a lot of room for improvement.

With iOS 6 having only been out for less than two months, it might seem like the wrong time to be thinking about features that I'd like to see in the next incarnation of iOS. But I've been using iOS 6 for long enough to have a good idea of what I don't like, and what would benefit me.

This wishlist comprises of tweaks and changes that would make my iOS experience more productive. I'm not going to be spending time criticizing colors and the minutia of user interface design. I'm focusing on concrete changes that would boost productivity.

So, without further preamble, here's my iOS 7 wishlist.

#1 - Lock screen widgets

The iOS 6 lock screen looks -- and feels -- awfully bland, conveying very little information. It's wasted space that could be used to do a lot more. For example, the most obvious use for it is to display information in a quick, concise way without the user having to unlock the handset.

The easiest way to make use of this space would be through the use of widgets -- apps that could be installed into the lock screen with the sole purpose of making it more usable.

While I wouldn't want sensitive information or apps available from the lock screen -- like the contents of emails or text massages -- there's information I would like at my fingertips without having to unlock the handset. Timezone data, news headlines, stocks, and simple to-do list data spring to mind.

#2 - Automatic App update and rollback

App updates are a lot easier under iOS 6, especially now that Apple has removed the requirement to type in a password, but there's room to make them easier.

First, it would make a lot of sense to allow apps to update automatically in the background when the iPhone or iPad is on charge and in range of Wi-Fi coverage. If there's a new app, chances are that I want it installed.

In the event that an automatic app update caused problems, another feature that would really be handy would be the ability to rollback to the previous versions. This would offer added piece of mind that if an automatic update end up causing grief, users could choose to go back to the version that worked for them.

This mechanism would offer users the best of both worlds -- quick access to new apps and the ability to roll back if things go wrong.

#3 - Live tiles

I like the live tiles paradigm that Microsoft has in its Windows Phone platform. By comparison, Apple's notifications are primitive and clumsy, and the icons boring and useless. Now that Apple has moved from a 3.5-inch screen to a 4-inch screen, and adopted the retina display, there's more space to lay out information in a way that's easier on the eye.

Live tiles would also remove the need to fire up the app just to see what's changed. A clock icon that acts like a real clock, or a news icon that shows me the latest headlines is a lot better than a static icon that I have to click on.

For jailbroken iOS devices, there are themes that do a reasonable job of bringing live tiles to the iPhone.

 

#4 - File manager

I'm continually amazed that there's no central way to manage files in iOS. I have to organize photos using the Photos app, music using the iTunes app, and my spreadsheet and word processor documents using a myriad of applications.

It's a mess. I have three programs for handling Microsoft Office documents -- because sometimes a particular app has problems with certain documents. I have to remember which app was used to edit/save the document and be able to find the document again.

Why can't we have a single, central app that allows us to handle and manipulate user-created files through a single interface? I'm not expecting Apple to give me access to the iOS file system, but being able to have access to my files would make finding, organizing, and managing them a lot easier.

Again, jailbrokein devices can already enjoy this feature.

#5 - Call/iMessage blacklist

Come on Apple, there are people that I don't want to get calls or iMessages (or for that matter text messages) from. Please give me an easy way to control who can and cannot get in touch with me.

Once again, the jailbreak community is way ahead of Apple.

#6 - Ability to change default apps

I don't use Safari on iOS that much any more. I also don't use Apple's abysmal Maps app. I also have my own calendar and contacts app. But Apple continues to try to force its own apps on me every opportunity. Click on a link in an email and it opens in Safari. Click on a time or date in an email and it opens the Calendar app. And no matter what, Apple still thinks that its Contacts app is the one and only way I should be organizing my contacts.

What I want is a way to tell iOS that I no longer want Apple's apps to handle certain features, but instead use the that apps that I have hand-picked to do the job.

Most of Apple's apps are good, but there are better apps available in the App Store.

#7 - Faster access to settings

Why does Apple continue to want to bury access to settings such as Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, brightness and so on. iOS 6 did remove a few taps to access some of these settings, but I think that access should be much easier.

For handsets that have been jailbroken, there's already an excellent app that does just this. It is called SDSettings and it does a lot of things that I wish iOS would do out of the box.

Here's a video showing SBSettings for iOS 5 that will give you an idea of this app gives you faster access to iOS settings by utilizing the Notification Center.

Something like that please, Apple.

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