By Harry McCracken | Tuesday, June 22, 2010 at 11:05 am
Compared to most cell-phone software upgrades, Apple’s updates to its iOS (née iPhone OS) are low on suspense and uncertainty. You don’t need to sit around wondering if your device will run iOS 4, and when your carrier might make it available–if you’ve got any iPhone or iPod Touch except the first-generation models, you can do the upgrade yourself. Now. It’s a major advantage of the fact that Apple controls its own hardware, software, and mechanism for delivering OS updates.
Compared to most phone upgrades, though–including previous iPhone ones–iOS 4 is also more the beginning of a process than a self-contained leap forward. Thanks to Apple’s Benjamin Button school of software design, it adds numerous features that feel like bare necessities even though we haven’t had them until now. (My two favorites: the integrated multi-account Mail inbox and the ability to organize apps into Folders.) Apple is finally done feeling filling in major holes, I think–although you may feel free to disagree.
But here’s why iOS 4 feels like the start of something rather than a conclusion: Its flagship feature is unquestionably multitasking, which provides major benefits only when developers enable it by updating their applications. And the OS includes a dizzying 1500 new APIs that provide developers with new capabilities. So about 75 percent of my excitement over iOS 4 involves its potential as a platform, not the features that are available right now. I’m pleased that a Pandora that can play in the background is already here, for instance…but I’ll be more enthused when Slacker can do the same.
In the meantime, my mind is already racing ahead to the features I’d like to see in iOS 5, and I thought I’d record some of them here–and ask you to list the stuff you’re still waiting for. (But let’s not talk about Flash. I’m tired of talking about Flash on the iPhone.)
What I’m looking for here are features that don’t require new hardware, and which you can envision Apple actually deciding to implement. Such as…
Okay, that’s enough from me. For now, at least. What iOS features are you still waiting for?