20 improvements I'd like to see in iOS 6

Apple's due to announce its plans for the next major version of iOS at WWDC in June. Here are some features that Apple needs to add to iOS if it's going to stay competitive with Android.
Written by Jason D. O'Grady, Contributor

Now that WWDC 2012 has been announced (and subsequently sold out in two hours) it's time to turn our attention to what Apple will be briefing its developers on at its annual developer confab in San Francisco.

The conventional wisdom is that Apple will release the iPhone 5 in the Fall (think September/October), which means that developers will need to know about any iOS changes well in advance of that of that to optimize their apps for the new OS (and hardware).

Therefore it's a pretty good bet that Apple will spend a good deal of time at WWDC briefing developers on iOS 6.0 -- or just iOS -- or whatever crazy minimalist naming convention it decides on.

That said, here's a short list of what I'd like to see in iOS 6, with plenty of advance notice for Apple.

Protection. Rogue apps can pilfer your entire contact list (and photos) without your permission and this needs to stop. Apps need to explicitly detail what personal information they need to access and when (like Android has for years). Apple should take this to the next level in iOS and add (optional) alerts telling the user when an app is accessing personal information (like contacts, email, messages, etc.) like it does for Location. Even better would be constant monitoring (again optional) like Little Snitch does in Mac OS X. Apple has promised a fix, and it should arrive no later than iOS 6.

Siri everything. Like turning Bluetooth and WiFi on and off and connecting to VPN.

Siri API. For third-party developers to tap into Siri.

Text to speech. Speech to text (like Siri) is nice, but I want the reverse. "Siri, read my email to me." "Siri, read me the New York Times." "Siri, read me my last five emails." This would be a commuter's dream.

Customizable lock screen. Notification Center was a huge improvement in iOS 5, but it doesn't do much on the lock screen. Apple could basically negate the need to jailbreak an iPhone by adding lock screen customization from Notification Center like Intelliborn's IntelliScreenX for jailbroken devices.

Widgets. As in real widgets on the desktop. Notification Center in iOS 5 was a step in the right direction but these are widgets-like. Weather and Stocks are quite nice but they're mostly hidden, not customizable, and it's Apple's way or the highway. Apple needs real widgets on the desktop, just like Android. Bluetooth on/off was a nice anomaly, but Apple caught wind quickly and promptly booted it from the App Store. People want widgets and Apple needs to give people what they want.

Do Not Disturb. Some apps have it, but this needs to be implemented at the system level. iOS needs an OS level do not disturb feature that disables all notifications during a user-defined interval, say 12 midnight to 8am. It should always allow alarms, but things like phone calls, calendar alerts and push notifications could be a user setting.

Intelligent CallerID. Not just for phone numbers in your contact list but for callers that aren't. Google the number and tell me more information so that I can make an informed decision before picking up a random telemarketing/fundraising call.

Voicemail transcription. As soon as someone leaves a voice mail (or better, while they are doing it) text me the text of the message. (like Google Voice does).

Text back a caller. Instead of having to touch "Decline" when a call comes in, Apple should add a button for "Decline with text..." and text them "sorry I'm in a meeting!" or any of several other user-define responses.

Permanently block and report voice spam. Allow users to add numbers for known telemarketers and spammers to a permanent block list so that they never ring through to your phone. Bonus points for collecting these numbers in a central repository, displaying them on everyone's Caller ID and reporting them to the FCC and FTC. Heck, deliver a customized greeting telling them that they are being reported.

Device Profiles. Device profiles for things like home, work, church, etc. This has been on other phones for decades and it's high time that iOS gets this modern convenience.

User profiles for families that share an iPad (a.k.a. multiple users). Update: Apple has responded that it's a "known issue" is "being investigated."

Keyboard improvements. Add a number row, show the case of upper and lower case letters. Expose an API for third-party keyboards (like Swype).

App Store demo videos. In addition to screenshots, show me a video of the app in use. (Android Play has this now).

App Store demos. Free 12-24 hour trials.

App Store upgrades. Instead of having to pay for a whole new app pay something less for a major update.

Automatic app updates. Instead having to pull updates, I'd like to be able to allow certain apps updates to automatically be pushed to me (say, when I'm on WiFi.) Then show me a notification of when an update is updated, which version I went from/to and (optionally) the change log.

Better Printing. Support more than eight models of printers.

Safari with tabs. And don't limit it to eight. Enough said?

What's on your short list for iOS 6?

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