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iOS 7: 5 Features Apple Should Buy, Borrow or Steal

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The next major revision of the mobile operating system for the iPhone and iPad will probably be showcased at Apple’s world wide developer conference in June, and likely iOS 7 will be announced to the world with some new features.

It’s still unclear what changes Apple will make and if any of those planned changes will be revolutionary or incremental upgrades to the current user experience, but there are a number of key features that I’d like to see Apple implement, many of which are already present from Apple’s rivals.

1. Multi-Window View

Single-tasking or unitasking is so 2007 when the original iPhone debuted. Sure, the iPhone 5 with iOS 6 can run apps in the background and push notifications may help to alleviate app-claustrophobia, but with a now larger screen and a high resolution Retina Display, Apple really should follow Samsung’s lead with Multi-Window view.

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Multi-Window view is Samsung’s attempt at running two apps simultaneously, a concept that was first introduced by Kyocera with the Android-powered Echo on Sprint’s network. Essentially, Multi-Window view allows two apps to be run side-by-side in landscape mode or placed on top and bottom in portrait mode. The apps can be resizable and you can go back into the 2007 era unitasking view if you decide you want to single-task yourself to success at any point.

2. Multi-Pane Views in Landscape Mode

Surely, the new iPhone 5′s elongated display isn’t made just to add an additional row of icons to the home screen. What would really be beneficial would be to have apps enter tablet-mode in landscape orientation for information-heavy apps. Similar to what Apple has done with the email app on the iPad, turn your iPhone on its side and you have a left column listing all your emails in your inbox and your right column showing a resizable preview of any emails. This requires less jumping back and forth when you’re trying to skim your inbox. Other apps that can benefit include the contacts app, the messaging app, the music app if you don’t want to see the cover flow view every time you tip your iPhone into landscape.

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And third-party apps should be able to take advantage of this UI paradigm. Instant messenger apps, news and news reader apps, and others can definitely benefit from this. Users should be given a choice though for which mode they want in landscape orientation–the default view that’s similar to portrait mode and what’s currently available today, or the enhanced tablet-optimized but for a phone mode that can display additional information.

Samsung’s been doing this for a while now on some of its larger phones, and it was a feature I really appreciated on the Samsung Galaxy S II Epic 4G Touch on Sprint.

3. iTunes Video Download Over 3G/4G

iTunes is great and the robust digital catalogue is perhaps the top reason why I haven’t fully switched yet to either Android or Windows Phone 7 completely–we’ll have to see how I feel about BlackBerry 10 when that debuts later this month. The problem with iTunes on the iPhone is that despite the copious movies and TV show titles available to purchase and watch on the go, Apple restricts the downloads to WiFi. With near ubiquitous access to 3G or 4G, I should be able to decide if I want to burn through my monthly data bucket or conserve and use WiFi.

It’s probably still an archaic rule from the unlimited data era that Apple had inked with carriers, but Google doesn’t restrict movies and TV show downloads from its Play Store to WiFi. Users can stream or download on either WiFi or 3G/4G. The downside with the Play Store: a far more limited assortment of titles to choose from.

4. App-Specific Password Protection

iPhone PasswordBetween Apple, Google, and Microsoft, there are now a number of ways to protect your entire smartphone from unintended use through a number of password options, including a simple 4-digit PIN, a complex alpha-numeric password, pattern drawings, and face to unlock using biometric security. For me, though, I don’t need full security of my phone like Fort Knox–I don’t carry sensitive corporate information and I don’t work for the government or have access to medical records like doctors.

Instead, the ideal for me would be the option to have my phone completely unlocked, except a few apps that I can specifically apply a password to. Yes, there’s a jailbreak app for that, and Apple really should make this an iOS 7 feature. I’d love to password protect my email, messaging, and my Google Drive app where I do have access to some sensitive documents on the cloud. Other users, for instance, may want to protect their photo app(s), social network apps, or other apps to prevent unauthorized entry from someone using or borrowing their phones.

5. Intelligent Search and Information Retrieval

Siri was great when she debuted, but the woman is still as fickle as ever. Search using Siri is a decent experience and the digital assistant is great at scheduling reminders and appointments, but she needs to have more initiative. And this is where Google Now excels thanks to Google having access to most of your online life through Gmail, Google search, and other apps.

However, Apple can make Siri smarter. Search on Safari or mobile Safari and Siri should be able to remember those search histories to recommend relevant information on the go, such as nearby restaurants when you’re in a new city or local concerts if you’re trying to find a fun date night activity for a Friday evening. Siri should be able to scan your emails in your inbox and notice if you have a shipment notification to help you track packages, or see that you have a flight and integrate your boarding pass into Passbook.

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Whatever or however that’s implemented isn’t really the concern–I just want Siri to be more predictive and to be more intelligent. Google Now is a great start, and Apple should take note and improve on Siri. Right now, she’s just a spunky assistant with some attitude, but Google Now has some street smarts to it.

Other Features

Those were my top five features that Apple should implement in iOS 7, but there is a laundry list of improvements Apple could make. Some of which could be allowing third-party keyboards to run, like the popular Swype keyboard, making widgets a reality on the home screen, implementing a better camera interface with more manual controls, and more. Tell us what features you think iOS 7 should have in the comments!

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The Walled Garden Approach is Beautiful, But There’s Always More

In torts law, there is the attractive nuisance doctrine where landowners are legally liable for certain hazards–like a swimming pool–if it attracts children to these dangers and for which these children may not understand the risks–such as drowning in this example. I would contend that Apple’s closed approach is an attractive nuisance where iOS users who are starved for more features are turning to jailbreak solutions.

Jailbreak itself isn’t a bad thing, but for the average consumer who may not know what they’re doing, it does open up certain risks, such as installing malicious code without knowing it. And while jailbreak itself doesn’t mean that a user is likely to pirate app, it does open up the iPhone to be able to run pirated apps, which would diminish the value of the iOS ecosystem.

With Apple forging its own path without really listening to the input of its customers, Apple is creating this attractive nuisance that really does detract from what could be a great iPhone experience as users try to seek their own remedies through jailbreaking, piracy, or other actions. I’ve already given my list of five things Apple ought to change for iOS 7, what would you like to see improved, implemented, or fixed?

Tech enthusiast in Silicon Valley enjoying the possibilities of ubiquitous connectivity, information sharing, and collaboration enabled by mobile broadband. You can contact Chuong on Twitter @chuongvision or search +chuongvision on Google+.

12 Comments

  1. Jesse

    01/18/2013 at 7:15 am

    One iOS 7 feature that I’d love to see is Accounts. I share an iPad in my house, and my girlfriend and I typically use the same services (e.g. Facebook, Kindle app); so, it would be great if we had the ability to create separate accounts that would allow us to add custom backgrounds, rearrange apps to our liking, and be able to stay signed into our individual accounts.

    • Juan Garcia

      02/21/2013 at 12:56 pm

      ^^^ This is probably the best idea I’ve seen! I am a huge Apple fan and I think this having multi accounts on the ipad would be appealing!!!

  2. Pablo

    01/18/2013 at 8:11 pm

    With jony ive doing ios 7 it will be much better because he is very good with the designs in apple and surley he will make good changes to it

  3. John

    01/19/2013 at 2:43 am

    I would settle for a text selection/copy paste system that isn’t frustrating. Using a nexus 7 has made it unbearable when I pick up my idevices. The whole OS feels ancient now though, but as I am locked in by app purchases that one change would improve my productivity immensely.

  4. Patrick

    01/30/2013 at 10:23 am

    I guess I’d have to say that Apple also has to pay huge attention to their audience when they are dealing with anything UI related. Yes, you and I would say that iOS feels outdated and needs a refresh. But you and I and the people who agree with us don’t make up even 2% of the owners of the 400+ million iOS devices on this planet. One of the huge things that keeps people coming back to Apple every time, and consequently one of its huge selling points, IS the familiarity and ease-of-use in the UI, especially that contained in the home screen. The common iPhone owner with 40 apps or so, half of which are provided on activation, probably doesn’t care that much about the things you and I do, so I can’t see Apple making the more . It’s kind of a “if it isn’t broke don’t fix it” approach, but why overhaul something that’s created such an empire?

  5. kaka

    02/02/2013 at 9:33 am

    Blackberry OS was not broken and it was not fixed. Just look now where Blackberry is!

  6. Justin

    02/07/2013 at 8:52 am

    So basically you want your oh so (un)impressive iStone to do things Android already does? Let’s see Apple’s hypocrisy on the matter with its next round of lawsuits.

    • Hernan

      02/09/2013 at 11:30 am

      Really???? The new BB it’s a copy of Iphone 4/5.

  7. WmTasker

    02/08/2013 at 8:35 am

    I would LOVE to have the ability to reply to a text from notifications instead of always having to leave the application I am running to reply in message.

  8. noiSheep

    02/18/2013 at 5:27 am

    Your concept dashboard looks vaguely familiar. All of your hopes and wishes for a vastly improved iOS are already available on Jelly Bean. Are you hoping iOS7 turns out to be a Droid?

  9. Jamie

    03/12/2013 at 5:52 pm

    They need to add some serious polish to safari…. Full screen browsing in landscape mode is not too awesome considering most browse 90% of the time in landscape. And text reflow is a must also.
    Recent convert from android, and though I really enjoy my iPhone, the browsing experience on it really makes me miss my HTC….

  10. Riz

    06/16/2013 at 12:26 pm

    Haters. IOS is the bomb. Imagine if Apple actually started trying! Droid, Dos, DEAD.

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