Apple's iOS is starting to get a little long in the tooth. There, I said it. The overall look and feel of the operating system has not changed since its 2007 debut. Sure, Apple has piled in plenty of new features, but the core of the operating system is the same as it was five years ago. It needs a refresh. I'm not saying iOS is ugly or anything, but it's starting to look a little old.
Apple is expected to announce a new version of iOS when it debuts the iPad 3 next week at its event scheduled in San Francisco. That update is iOS 5.1. It is not a major update, and is believed to only add a few minor changes to the way the camera is accessed from the lock screen and support for Japanese in Siri.
Apple might (might!) provide a preview of iOS 6 at the event. It has, in the past, provided a first glimpse at future versions of iOS months in advance. The iPad 3 launch would be a good opportunity for Apple to do that.
What would I like Apple to change? Well, I'm no design guru, but I am sure Apple has enough creative juices to turn out a more visually appealing operating system. I'd like to see a sharper-looking operating system, with fewer curves and more corners. Not Windows 8-style corners and blocks, but something that has cleaner lines to it.
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The operating system could use some more features, but that will always be true of any platform. Things that iOS lacks that other platforms capitalize on? Widgets, the ability to control files/folders, re-sizable home-screen elements, control over the number and placement of home-screen panels, and so on.
Apple's competitors have not only added features to their platforms, but have made visual upgrades as well. Look at Android, for example. The change in the operating system's appearance between Android 2.x/3.x and Android 4.0 is incredible. Everything about the OS was redesigned and it looks much, much better now. Windows Phone is too young to require a refresh, but even Research In Motion has altered the appearance of BlackBerry 7 when you compare it to Blackberry 5.
Frankly speaking, I don't expect Apple to change anything about iOS's appearance in the near future, but it will have to eventually. What will be most interesting is to see how--or if--Apple brings Mac OS X Mountain Lion features to iOS, rather than bringing features from iOS to Mountain Lion. Now that Microsoft has aligned the look of its PC, tablet, and smartphone platforms, it would behoove Apple to do the same.
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