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3/1/2012
09:34 AM
Eric Zeman
Eric Zeman
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What iPad 3 Really Needs: Revised OS

Apple's iPad 3 is expected to have significantly boosted internal specs, but a refresh of the operating system is more critical.

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.

[ What's in your dream iPad 3? Here's iPad 3: 9 Things We Really Want. ]

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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herman_munster
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herman_munster,
User Rank: Apprentice
3/9/2012 | 8:33:35 PM
re: What iPad 3 Really Needs: Revised OS
I'll say it, iOS is ugly. It would be nice to at least be able to change the theme.

OS X hasn't seen many appearance changes since it came out either.
herman_munster
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herman_munster,
User Rank: Apprentice
3/8/2012 | 5:49:58 PM
re: What iPad 3 Really Needs: Revised OS
Something I'd really be interested in is an updated UI.
stevew928
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stevew928,
User Rank: Ninja
3/3/2012 | 7:00:44 PM
re: What iPad 3 Really Needs: Revised OS
Has this author used an iOS device, or is just just a Windows or Android user making silly comments?

iOS does need some polishing, but nothing like Eric is mentioning here. This article seems to be... "just change things, because we like things to be changed." Umm, OK. That really isn't a very good reason for change. It doesn't need a refresh, or new look, if it was done well in the first place. Sure, eventually, they will... but it has only been a couple years. Part of what many other OSs HAVE done wrong is to keep completely changing everything every release (even Apple ventures into that stupidity with some apps and aspects of the OS all too often).

I'd rather Apple spend some time on things which actually aren't working so well... like the core apps Calendar and Contacts. Or, think of some better ways to tweak the file system so it works a bit more like people think (in projects), not in apps. Or, they could add various IM protocols to Messages. Or, work on adding a lot more functionality to iCloud. There is MUCH to do, but revising the 'look' of the OS just isn't one of them.
LHEIGH7830
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LHEIGH7830,
User Rank: Apprentice
3/3/2012 | 5:10:50 AM
re: What iPad 3 Really Needs: Revised OS
Flexibility in home screen arrangement... especially tabs and tabbed home pages! It'd be good to have something akin to Z Launcher on the Palm OS. One would also want to see a sliding dock toolbar to include more apps..........details:- http://www.newusanews.com/
UberGoober
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UberGoober,
User Rank: Strategist
3/2/2012 | 3:33:44 PM
re: What iPad 3 Really Needs: Revised OS
I suppose asking for the freedom to do with my device what I actually want would be asking too much, but that is it the overriding thing Apple needs to do with the iPad3. Apple is all about the European idea of freedom, 'freedom from,' emphasis on helplessness and safety provided by the collective. Sorry, I believe in the American idea of freedom, 'freedom to,' aka Liberty. Sorry, but there will never come a day when I will use a device that requires me to register with the Apple Borg just to be able to use it, and then limit myself to what Lord Jobs' minions approve of.

Given one for free, I would find a Democrat to give it to. We would both be happier.
Starman_Andromeda
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Starman_Andromeda,
User Rank: Apprentice
3/2/2012 | 3:22:04 PM
re: What iPad 3 Really Needs: Revised OS
Agree, 100%! Several things come to mind immediately...

Absolutely the top priority would be a customizable status bar with a hide-show option. Apps are able to hide/show the bar; there should be a system wide option. Putting different things in there, or changing what's there, would be good, too. Personally, being hit over the head with the time in the status bar is annoying.

System wide color themes... e.g., a night mode that would put pastel-colored text against a black background, for night situations (aka astronomy, medical night rounds, airplanes, evening and nighttime reading, bedtime to not disturb partner, etc.)

Customizable keyboard, and even expanded arrangements if desired.

Flexibility in home screen arrangement... especially tabs and tabbed home pages! It'd be good to have something akin to Z Launcher on the Palm OS. One would also want to see a sliding dock toolbar to include more apps.

Download organizer that would permit several designated apps to update their content in the background (e.g., various news apps, tech apps, weather, satellite observations, exoplanet databases, NASA Sun apps, etc.). It's silly, and a nuisance, having to go to each manually.

The date/time picker looks positively archaic; 19th century even. For a modern, cool, 21st century device, that is aesthetically ridiculous--and something I'm forever surprised got past Steve Jobs.

Updated, more fully-functional PIM apps-- todo, calendar, etc. More than a decade ago, Palm had this down pat; Apple is still playing catch up.

Yes, both functionally and aesthetically, the iOS needs an overhaul. You know, something that you just "have to see. And touch!" :-) Wednesday, Yerba Buena, anyone?
mpsmart
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mpsmart,
User Rank: Apprentice
3/1/2012 | 8:07:09 PM
re: What iPad 3 Really Needs: Revised OS
I agree with your point that there is a need for an iOS update, but I disagree that the update should be focused on appearance. The fact is, we live in a world a little to focused on updated looks. With that being said, when I look at my iPhone, I still get the "Ah.. This is awesome" feeling in my stomach, same goes for my Mac. Its beautiful. The updates we have seen in the past have been great (folders, multitasking, notification center) but with the iCloud making its move, the iOS needs to adapt to make using the cloud much easier. Obviously they plan to continue in this direction by the looks of Mountain Lion.
thap
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thap,
User Rank: Apprentice
3/1/2012 | 6:52:19 PM
re: What iPad 3 Really Needs: Revised OS
So... make iOS more like the unproven Windows 8 mobile and... Blackberry, with "fewer curves and more corners" but "not corners and blocks." Huh. Apple nailed the interface for mobile. Period. It doesn't need to add your subjective "cleaner lines" using their "creative juices." Will it last forever in its present incarnation? No way, but talking about it "behooving Apple" to follow in Microsoft's footsteps with anything, including mobile, is hysterical at this point. Seriously, though, changing iOS because it feels "old"? Actually, I think your wishes for "cleaner lines" may be met with the probable retina display on iPad 3, but I doubt everything is going to all of a sudden be square.
istavnitser606
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istavnitser606,
User Rank: Apprentice
3/1/2012 | 5:15:38 PM
re: What iPad 3 Really Needs: Revised OS
Do you actually get paid for writing what is essentially a rant, admitting that you lack any sort of expertise. " Look at Android, for example." consumers have spoken with their wallets in regards to Android on tablets and they are scooping android tablets up like crazy; NOT!

Widgets? Resizeable windows? You have no idea what you are talking about in context of a mobile UI.

Are you going to write an article advising Prada how to design clothes next?

"Well, I'm no design guru, but I am sure Apple has enough creative juices to turn out a more visually appealing operating system" go Eric - teach apple some design.
HELNIL000
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HELNIL000,
User Rank: Apprentice
3/1/2012 | 4:53:16 PM
re: What iPad 3 Really Needs: Revised OS
I'm sure AAPL is way ahead of YOU and the rest of the pack in that regards.
In the mean time get an Android whatever and call it a day.
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