Let's Compile an iOS To-Do List

By  |  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…

  • Full-text search of Mail messages, whether they’re stored locally or on the server. (Mail still searches only header info.)
  • The ability to store more than 200 messages on an iPhone (some of us might devote the majority of the space on a 32GB iPhone to our inboxes if it were possible to do so).
  • A Notes app that looks less silly, or which at least let you opt for a non-comical skin (the new syncing feature is very nice, though).
  • A user-configurable delay before the phone locks itself.
  • Third-party widgets (iOS 4 takes a baby step in this direction with its music player controls that work with third-party apps such as Pandora).
  • Widgets that can display when the phone is locked–so that I can glance at my next calendar appointment, for instance.
  • The ability to make an iPhone behave like a MiFi mobile hotspot (I figure this will be standard smartphone behavior by the time the iPhone 5 comes out…which doesn’t mean that Apple and AT&T will enable it).
  • Swype. And voice recognition input everywhere–at least via an API that would let a company like Dragon provide it.

Okay, that’s enough from me. For now, at least. What iOS features are you still waiting for?


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17 Comments For This Post

  1. Michael Warkentin Says:

    Better notifications?

  2. Stephen Turner Says:

    It’s only a small thing, but I would like the ability to reorder the pages in Safari.

  3. Justin Says:

    Full AVRCP support.

  4. Renchub Says:

    How about to-do lists integrated with calendar or notes?

  5. John Baxter Says:

    “A user-configurable delay before the phone locks itself.”

    How is that different from Settings–>General–>Auto-Lock (1, 2, 3, 4, 5 minutes or Never)? I suppose you might want 17 minutes.

  6. David Worthington Says:

    They need to make the folders feature more intuitive and easier to do also. I’d like to see folders become more intelligent, and bubble up embedded notifications like Windows Phone 7 does. Microsoft let me play with one at TechEd, and there’s some good ideas there.

  7. Steve W, Indialantic FL Says:

    “Apple is finally done feeling in major holes….”

    “feeling in major holes”? There is no porn on the iPhone.

  8. NanoGeek Says:

    Load pages in Safari even when they aren’t being viewed.

  9. Jeff Says:

    Control of the calendar colors when syncing using exchange.

  10. Hamranhansenhansen Says:

    I want to see iTunes LP run in iPod, at least on iPad, and I want to see iTunes Extras run in Videos, at least on iPad. Both are really missing from iPad since 1024×768 is the native size of them all.

    It would be cool if Air Sharing was standard. It makes your device appear as a Wi-Fi file server on your local network, and it gives you a place to download files to from Safari. For example, if you download a Zip file in Safari on iPad with Air Sharing installed, Safari asks “open in Air Sharing?” and then later the file is easy to get on your Mac because your iPad appears as a disk on the desktop and the Zip file is in there.

    > Notes app

    The font should be American Typewriter and the paper should look like teletype paper. It has a little typewriter, not handwriting recognition. The homage should be to Jack Kerouac, not lawyers.

    > Full-text search of Mail
    > on the server

    This is a Snow Leopard feature. My understanding is iOS 3 is Leopard and 4 is Snow Leopard, so maybe this will show in v4.1.

    > iOS 5

    You may get a few of these in v4.1. Widgets would make sense to launch on iPad, where Clock and other small apps are still missing and the screen size shows them off.

    > MiFi

    This has been in Mac OS forever, so they already have the software. The issue is carriers and battery life. Sprint EVO can do this but only for 1 hour. This is the kind of feature the closed carriers offer to make up for being closed and slow.

    What’s amazing with these lists is how few things are missing from iPhone. Apple has put a lot of features in there. Notifications and widgets are the most glaring hole. If you want a dashboard experience, that is not there yet on iPhone. They can bring over the Mac Dashboard pretty easily, though.

  11. NanoGeek Says:

    Also, the ability to NOT have a homescreen background.

  12. David Hamilton Says:

    1) Notifications seems to be the biggest hole at the moment.

    2) Sever the dependence on PC – allow updating/syncing via the Cloud (MobileMe).

    3) After (2) introduce dynamic OTA media management: If a track (say… could also be whole album) is not locally stored, dynamically loads it from PC/Cloud, evict track/album played longest ago. Turns local storage into a MRU Media Cache.

  13. nikhil bafna Says:

    Bluetooth file transfer?

  14. nikhil bafna Says:

    This may never happen but copy/paste music without syncing through iTunes.

  15. gordo Says:

    -folders with unlimited apps
    -home page in safari
    -note with handwriting to text

  16. David Hamilton Says:

    And, as you mention in your iPhone 4 first-look, camera image stabilisation is way more useful than a high pixel count.

  17. Stephen Turner Says:

    One more Safari annoyance: I hate how often it reloads a page when you come back to it, even if you’ve only been away for a few seconds.

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    […] Let’s Compile an iOS To-Do List Published: June 22, 2010 Source: Technologizer 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… […]