Saturday, March 19, 2011

Apple iOS 5 Wish List: 10 Must-Have Features


When Apple CEO Steve Jobs unveiled the new iPad 2 at a March 2 event, he also revealed that users would be able to download and use iOS 4.3, an update to the company's popular iOS 4 software it released last year. That update brings personal hot spot functionality and improved Safari browsing, among other features. For the most part, users are quite happy with its functionality. Still, for the vast majority of iPhone and iPad owners, the wait is on for iOS 5. As expected, Apple hasn't made any indication that it will be launching iOS 5 this year, but given its recent history of releasing major updates every year, it's likely that iOS 5 will be made available with the iPhone 5 later in 2011. When that platform comes out, there will be several features iPad and iPhone owners will hope to see. Yes, iOS 4 is a fine mobile operating system, but it has some glaring issues that need to be addressed in the next update. The following list of improvements would make iOS 5 not only a better operating system than its predecessor, but would undoubtedly cement its position as the top OS in the mobile market.

Improved Multitasking

Multitasking was one of the most coveted features of iPhone and iPad owners. Finally, last year Apple brought the functionality to its operating system. But was it too little, too late? Multitasking in iOS 4 isn't fully functional. Yes, users can switch back and forth between apps and they do run in the background, but having desktoplike multitasking where processing can go on in the background and having the ability to view windows before opening a program would make iOS 5 all the more appealing.

Better Browsing

When Google launched Android 3.0 "Honeycomb," the company delivered a vastly improved browsing experience, complete with full tab support, Incognito mode and a generally faster surfing speed. iOS 4's browser, on the other hand, lacks real tabbed browsing and doesn't come with all those desktop features Honeycomb boasts. Let's hope those features come to iOS 5.

Wireless Syncing Capability

One of the biggest issues with the iPhone and iPad is that when the devices need to be updated, they have to be plugged into a computer running iTunes. Android-based devices, on the other hand, can be updated over the air. It would be nice to see iOS 5 support over-the-air updates, as well as the ability to sync the iPhone or iPad with iTunes over the home network without requiring cables. That's the future. And it's time Apple embraces it.

An Improved Lock Screen

The iOS 4 lock screen is arguably one of the least useful features available in the operating system, since users can only choose to view different backgrounds. It would be nice to see Apple deliver actual usability to that lock screen, letting users place their Inbox, text messages or other content on the screen. If the lock screen is still useless in iOS 5, users won't be happy.

Bulk App Purchases

Try buying multiple apps in the App Store running on the iPhone or iPad. See any annoyances? Unfortunately, Apple only allows users to download a single app at a time; bulk downloads are not available. Considering some folks like to buy multiple apps in one sitting, it would be nice to see Apple offer bulk downloads in iOS 5.

Much Better Notification System

One of the biggest annoyances with iOS 4 is its notifications system. Whether users receive text messages, alerts or pop-ups from third-party apps, the messages are displayed over whatever the user is doing. Plus, they light up the iPhone's screen when it's turned off. Notification customization is an absolute must-have in iOS 5.

Improved FaceTime

With the launch of Apple's FaceTime video conferencing application last year, the company said that it would only be available over WiFi. But now that it's running on iPad 2, the iPhone 4, the iPod Touch and Macs, it would be nice to see Apple have FaceTime work over mobile wireless networks. It seems like the next logical step for the service. What better time to launch it than with the introduction of iOS 5?

Actually Useful Voice Control

When users hold down the Home button on the iPhone, they can activate voice control on the platform. That feature lets them give voice commands to perform tasks on the device. The only issue is, it doesn't work all that well. And its functionality is very basic. In iOS 5, it would be nice to see more sophisticated voice control, offering more than just the ability to open applications. Remember, Apple: the less typing, the better.

Better Auto-Correction

Apple CEO Steve Jobs said that his company improved auto-correction in iOS 4. If it did, it has much more work to do. Typing out text messages or e-mails with iOS auto-correction in place couldn't be more annoying. At times, it gets things right. But it seems that it gets the corrections wrong in far too many instances for it to be a reliable service. In iOS 5, Apple better make serious strides in improving its auto-correction.

Built-In Music Streaming?

When Apple acquired Lala in 2009, some believed that the company would be offering a music-streaming service. But it did nothing of the sort. After shuttering Lala, it seemed Apple had no plans to offering a streaming option. But maybe it was all part of the plan. Perhaps music streaming will be coming to iOS 5. After all, services like Pandora are extremely popular. Why wouldn't Apple want to capitalize on that with a built-in streaming offering integrated with iTunes?