Mobile // Mobile Business
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5/31/2014
08:06 AM
Eric Zeman
Eric Zeman
Commentary
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Apple WWDC 2014: My Wish List

Apple execs take the stage June 2 to show off the company's latest innovations. Here's what I'd like to hear.

Apple WWDC 2014: 9 Things To Expect
Apple WWDC 2014: 9 Things To Expect
(Click image for larger view and slideshow.)

Apple's Worldwide Developers Conference kicks off Monday morning in San Francisco, and speculation is rampant about what Apple might say at the event. Apple is expected to provide a peek at upcoming changes to its core iOS mobile and OS X desktop platforms. The company may show off new hardware, too, but the focus of WWDC is always Apple's software and services.

With the iPhone alone accounting for more than half of Apple's revenues, Apple needs to keep iOS fresh. Most of what Apple discusses will center on iOS, which powers both Apple's iPhone smartphones and iPad tablets. The company will surely talk about the next version of OS X as well. Apple showed off iOS 7 and OS X 10.9 Mavericks at WWDC in 2013, which puts iOS 8 and OS X 10.10 on deck for WWDC 2014.

Here are a few things I'd like to see Apple add to these platforms.

iOS 8
Design tweaks: Apple completely redesigned iOS last year, so don't expect to see a new look for the operating system. But that doesn't mean Apple can't make some improvements. There are plenty of rough edges (spacing oddities, font goofs, and more) that can use some hewing. I wouldn't mind seeing a wider, less pastel color palette, too.

[What would you like to see at Apple's Worldwide Developer Conference? Read Apple WWDC 2014: 9 Things To Expect.]

Swiping keyboard: This has become a near deal-breaker. Every other major smartphone platform supports swiping keyboards to help speed up and improve text input. Apple is now the lone holdout and needs to join its competitors. If Apple doesn't create its own swipeable keyboard, then it needs to support third-party keyboards (such as Swype) within iOS 8.

Siri: Google's Google Now and Microsoft's Cortana voice-assistant tools may have arrived after Apple's Siri, but they've surpassed it in terms of overall usefulness. For starters, Siri has more trouble transcribing spoken queries than either Google Now or Cortana (at least in my experience). Further, Siri is still very limited in its responses and doesn't support most third-party apps. Google Now and Cortana are able to interact with more parts of the Android and Windows Phone operating systems, respectively. iOS 8 needs Siri 2.0 in a bad way.

(image: Apple)
(image: Apple)

Guest/kid mode: Android and Windows Phone both have segregated kid modes that allow parents to hand their phones to Junior without worry. When a Windows Phone handset is put into kid mode, for example, it blocks the child from accessing vital apps such as email and messaging while permitting use of the media apps and games. Samsung has used the iPad's lack of kid mode to promote its own devices in its television commercials.

Split-screen multitasking: Samsung may have pioneered split-screen multitasking on its Note smartphones, but others have begun to adopt it. The feature lets users run two apps side-by-side at the same time, as well as drag content between them. This may be impractical on the small screen of the iPhone, but it could be a boon to the iPad -- which Apple is all too happy to tout as an enterprise workhorse. Even if it is iPad-only at launch, split-screen multitasking would be a welcome addition to iOS.

Mass transit for Maps: Android and Windows Phone continue to run circles around Apple's navigational tools. One of the key features missing from Apple's beleaguered Maps app is support for mass transit. Both Google Maps and Nokia's HERE Maps let users plan routes using subways, buses, and trains. Apple Maps doesn't, forcing iPhone and iPad owners to download competing apps to gain mass transit information. (Users of Apple Maps will note that there are buttons to create walking and mass transit routes, but they open third-party apps.)

More flexible home screens: iOS is fairly rigid in how it treats home screen customization. As apps are added to the home screen, they automatically snap to a grid beginning in the upper-left corner -- you can't place an app in the lower-right corner of the screen, for example. It would be nice

Eric is a freelance writer for InformationWeek specializing in mobile technologies. View Full Bio
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mak63
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mak63,
User Rank: Ninja
6/1/2014 | 1:03:23 AM
Re: Split Screen Multitasking
If I ever switch to a Windows Phone will be for the camera. Don't really care about a split screen in a tiny device.
jgherbert
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jgherbert,
User Rank: Ninja
5/31/2014 | 5:39:19 PM
Re: Split Screen Multitasking
I've tried Windows on mobile phones, and I just can't get into its way of working. Sadly for me that means that even with the best will in the world (and the best split screen technology in the world) it isn't enough to get me to change platform.

As I asked siilarly in a comment earlier today as well, is "split screen apps" on people's "must have" list when shopping for a new phone? I really don't know, and I'm interested to hear what people think.
anon4192578946
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anon4192578946,
User Rank: Apprentice
5/31/2014 | 1:49:58 PM
Split Screen Multitasking
Windows 8 is the original split screen mobile OS, and they still implement it better than any andriod variation.
jgherbert
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jgherbert,
User Rank: Ninja
5/31/2014 | 1:43:45 PM
Ecosystem
I was thinking about this some more, and I realized that with the aggressive development undertaken by the other smart phone companies, for example, the iPhone itself is - perhaps obviously - not out on its own any more. It's not unique, so why would I buy it? 

The Mac has slightly more pull - OS/X has been so much better to use than Windows, it's not the hardware so much as the software that brings me into the fold.

Most of all though, I'm sold on the integrated ecosystem. I love that I can read books on my Mac and on my Phone. I love that I have the same music on laptop and phone without having to plug them into one another. My bookmarks are shared if I want, as is my password list via Keychain.  

So while commenting on AirDrop, I think I would have to expand my wish list to include a more general "things that make my devices work together more seamlessly" request for WWDC. Allow me to share more easily. Allow me to pass documents back and forth more easily. Use more phone data to sync with my computer (e.g. if you have a GPS lock on my phone and it's within bluetooth distance of my computer, then use that GPS data when I ask the computer for a weather update or make a mapping request!). Keep using the capabilities unique to each device to feed the other and provide an enriched experience. Now expand that to the alleged Healthbook and iWatch (or whatever) as well as home automation, and the blending of mobile, tablet and laptop devices could be a huge attraction for people on the fence.
jgherbert
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jgherbert,
User Rank: Ninja
5/31/2014 | 12:31:40 PM
AirDrop
Oh gods, yes, Please.

AirDrop is so incredibly useful (and underutilized by owners), but one of the key uses I'd have would be to get pictures quickly from my iPhone to my MacBook, and I can't do that because iPhones can ony AirDrop to other iPhones for some unknown reason. Right now I end up doing stupid stuff like emailing myself pictures. And ok, yes, I could plug it in, but we live in an awesome wireless word, but AirDrop is so fast it's a silly set of steps to make me go through. So yes, please, AirDrop interoperability between iOS and OSX. Urgently.
jgherbert
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jgherbert,
User Rank: Ninja
5/31/2014 | 12:27:28 PM
Re: iOS 8
@RAM1950> I guess Swype is an acquired taste, and I wo uld probably need to use it more to appreciate it - it didn't grab me when I tried it. However, I'm happy to believe the legions of users who say it's great, and I do think that Apple's resistance to third party keyboards is a bit odd. Of course, there are other keyboards out there, with APIs so that app developers can incorporate "better" keyboards in their apps, but that won't help with any of the core Apple-supplied apps, which will use the default system keyboard.
jgherbert
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jgherbert,
User Rank: Ninja
5/31/2014 | 12:23:33 PM
Re: glass
@BillB031> 
I would like to see an iPhone that wasn't so fragile.  My wife has broken the glass on her 5s twice.  It looks like the new iphone 6 will be edge to edge glass which may be even worse.
 
--That would be nice on all phones to be honest. My wife and I have had iPhones for 4 years now and never so much as cracked the screen. My children on the other hand...are definitely candidates for Otterbox cases ;)

If Apple was so inventive, why the heck was it Samsung to come out with something as simple as a water resistant phone. 
 
--I wonder, truly, if that's a big selling feature. Not saying it isn't, but I'd be curious how many people actual list that on their requirements for a new phone.
 
I can see why Apple has not come out with split screen multi-tasking.  Hard to deal with on a postage stamp size screen.  But maybe they will with the next larger screen model.
 
--Or not. The rumor was that split screen was being targeted at iPad I think. I gather though that you like to hold a phone against your head that's roughly the size of an encylopedia, which is of course your right. 


Also, Apple absolutely needs to do something about the lousy camera.  Samsung has blown Apple away in this arena.  If I recieve one more upside-down video or sideways picture from an iPhone user, my head is going to expload.
 
--Upside down video? Ok, that's a new one on me! I'll give you the camera thing; not that the 5s had a bad camera, but it needs to keep evolving to keep up. While megapixels aren't the end of the argument for quailty (by a long way), Nokia has been innovating the heck out of the cell phone camera recently

Yes, My Wife has the iPhone 5s, and I have an old Galaxy S3.  My S3 is a much better phone than the iPhone 5,  and the new Galaxy S5  even more.  I'm waiting to upgrade.  Hopefully the new iPhone 6 with have some features that I like.  I would love to switch to an American Company.
 
--Better is such a subjective word, but if you prefer it then that's cool. I happen to prefer the iOS interface and ecosystem, but then there are definitely things that I see on Android phones that make me thing "Wait, why can't I do that?" ;-)
 
RAM1950
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RAM1950,
User Rank: Apprentice
5/31/2014 | 10:38:39 AM
iOS 8
Swipe keyboard? Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes. After three Androids and the disgust of never getting updates I moved to the iPhone about 18 months ago. Overall I'm happy, but when you say that a swipe keyboard is almost a deal breaker I can totally relate. I own an iMac, a Macbook, an iPad Mini and a 5S. You could say I'm all in, but without a swipe keyboard I "may" seriously consider another phone this fall.
BillB031
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BillB031,
User Rank: Strategist
5/31/2014 | 9:31:36 AM
glass
I would like to see an iPhone that wasn't so fragile.  My wife has broken the glass on her 5s twice.  It looks like the new iphone 6 will be edge to edge glass which may be even worse.

If Apple was so inventive, why the heck was it Samsung to come out with something as simple as a water resistant phone.  I can see why Apple has not come out with split screen multi-tasking.  Hard to deal with on a postage stamp size screen.  But maybe they will with the next larger screen model.

Also, Apple absolutely needs to do something about the lousy camera.  Samsung has blown Apple away in this arena.  If I recieve one more upside-down video or sideways picture from an iPhone user, my head is going to expload.


Yes, My Wife has the iPhone 5s, and I have an old Galaxy S3.  My S3 is a much better phone than the iPhone 5,  and the new Galaxy S5  even more.  I'm waiting to upgrade.  Hopefully the new iPhone 6 with have some features that I like.  I would love to switch to an American Company.
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