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Echosphere Note: Frederico Viticci's iOS Wish List Post

Frederico Viticci writes good stuff. His latest article about iOS features he wants to see is a long piece detailing dozens of interesting ideas. Some of them are feasible, even useful, but others seem like they are missing the point of what most users want from their iOS device and would only increase the feature bloat that is making iOS more difficult to maintain (given the number of bugs that have crept into the OS in recent releases) and harder for new users to come to grips with.

Some of his ideas are “expert” level and could be implemented through settings screens. I think most of this higher level functionality would be useless to most users however or, even worse, degrade the experience of people who just want to use their phone to get stuff done.

Other ideas Viticci presented fall in the “why would I ever want to do that, even if I could?” category.

I wanted to go through his list and add comments where I took issue (or agreed fully) with his thoughts. This isn’t a full run-down on his ideas, however, and I’d encourage everyone to head to macstories to read the full treatise.

iOS 6 Wishes

Sync browser tabs through iCloud: I have no idea why I’d ever want to do that. So many websites aren’t really that useful on the iPhone and with all of the link sharing/link saving applications and websites (Pinboard, Instapaper, etc), I use my computer to view websites I specifically don’t want to see on my phone or iPad.

Facebook integration: Don’t even get me started on Facebook. It needs to stay as far away from me as possible and integrating it into the phone will just make its annoyance more ubiquitous. I’d rather they find ways to diminish its presence and given that Facebook is, in some important ways, a competitor to Apple I can’t see them ever doing this for their own sake.

Search in All Mailboxes: Interesting but impossible idea. Searching offline mail folders from a phone would require a server archiving and indexing component that would be too difficult to even envision let alone implement. How would you feel about Apple having an indexed version of all of your email, no matter which service handled the email originally? That’s the only way it could be done though.

Copy link and text in App Store, Sharing options in App Store and iTunes wish list: Good ideas but not too important in the scheme of things. It’s one of those things that I can’t see a lot of users making use of.

Per-contact read iMessage status: I’d like this but it would be a pain to implement and actually use. It’s one of those expert level things I mentioned above. I would hope “fixing iMessage” would rank higher than this…

Mail-style rich text system-wide: I guess. I personally don’t use rich text if I can avoid it and I can see where a writer would want something like this but all I can envision is getting emails from my mother with blue backgrounds and comic sans fonts and shudder at the thought. I’d blame Frederico for each one of those emails…

AirDrop: I love this idea but it does belie the whole notion of using iOS as a simple device devoid of a file system (on the surface anyway). Viticci makes it sound some neat and interesting but where do those files go? How do you open them? How do you send them to the apps that need to handle them? I’d prefer Apple concentrate on fixing iCloud.

Move multiple icons at once: Terrible idea.

Rethink the iOS Home screen concept and Rethinking iOS Multitasking: I like the idea of live icons with the ability to have the current weather on an icon or a cloud when it’s cloudy and maybe a temperature display. There’s a lot you can do with that idea. But the Home screen metaphor is going nowhere and the current handling of multitasking is going nowhere either. I am not averse to a “running apps” page at the end of my screens list, but the point of the Home button interaction to bring up the running apps is not to keep them sequestered where they are out of the way but to make it fast to access the last few apps you used. The double-tapped Home button is annoying at times but I’d rather move that control to something more obvious and less “clicky” than completely blow up the paradigm for a mis-guided sort of convenience. Regardless, the way the the OS itself multitasks is pretty much perfect for a good blend of preservation of battery life and usability.

Deeper Gmail integration: Isn’t that why Sparrow exists? Most people don’t use Gmail, instead using their work’s Exchange, MSN, Yahoo! and others, so enabling these very Google-specific features wouldn’t be the typical sort of wide-brush approach that is common to Apple’s development. Would I like it? Sure. Will it happen? Nope.

Automatic app updates option: OK. I can somewhat agree to this, as a developer, but there are things like data caps, bad WiFi connections and other things that are very connection-specific that make this type of updating problematic. As someone who has to deal with users and connectivity issues a lot, I can assure you, not everyone enjoys the same level of connectivity as the most tech savvy of us.

Open up Siri: Yes, sure. That’d be nice but first concentrate on “Fix Siri”.

Better inter-app communication: I think this will definitely be a big feature consideration of future OS versions but it has a large number of problems for implementation, not the least of which is security.

Improve Notification Center: Yes, yes, a thousand times yes

Make iOS devices aware of each other’s presence: I am not sure I’d like this but I am sure they’d allow those of us who like privacy and dislike most people to turn it off.

Bring AIM to iMessage for iOS, and let us selectively mute threads: They need to fix iMessage first. That shit is severely broken, especially when integrating it with my Mac. (iMessage beta actually broke iMessage so badly on my phone I had to delete it from my machine and remove all traces of it to get my phone’s iMessage to work again. Crazy!)

Calculations in Spotlight: That’d be nice but if you really want to be that type of power user, you should be using Launchbar already. And the rest of the user population wouldn’t use it if it was there.

Let users change default apps: That would be great. It would likely be problematic for them to implement (or for us to use) but still a great addition to the OS.

Make Notification Center for iPad Mountain Lion-like: Sure. Sounds great.

Improve Notes with Mountain Lion features: Who uses Notes? I only know one person who uses the Notes in iOS but it’s only because she is somewhat stubborn. For someone who wants an “improved” notes, they should rush out and buy Drafts or Nebulous Notes immediately.

Documents UI for iCloud: This should probably be Apple’s first priority. iCloud is so essential to the company’s future and the current implementation needs a lot of work. No iWork integration yet? Really, Apple?

VIP contacts for Mail and Messages: I love the idea of VIP contacts.

Easy access to WiFi, Bluetooth switches: At the very least allow developers to build apps to do this…

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I disagreed with a lot of what Viticci says in his wish list but it was an enjoyable read. It gave me a lot to think about. Thanks, Frederico!