This is the second half of an editorial. Part 1 has suggestions on ways to improve the iPhone’s app lancher, email app, and more.
6. Improve the keyboard
Apple refuses to put a physical keyboard on any of its smartphones, so the usability of the on-screen one is critical. Sadly, it’s lacking in some key areas. Punctuation is important and it should be easy to get to. Instead, it’s irritatingly hidden on a secondary screen.
Caps Lock would be nice. And when typing in lower case, the letters on the keyboard should appear in lower case. Only when you tap on the Shift key should they switch to upper case. As it stands now they are permanently in upper case, sometime making it confusing which case I’m in.
A set of arrow keys would be a good addition as well. There’s nothing faster for getting the cursor exactly where you want it.
7. Improve the App Switcher
The iOS method for switching between background applications was added in a later version, and, boy, does it show. It’s about as kludgy as it can be.
Instead of app icons across the bottom of the display, I’d like the process to take over the entire display, giving room for screenshots of currently running software, not just icons.
8. Add a File System
The lack of a central repository to find and work with files is a serious limitation in the iOS. It’s something that really bugs many long-time computer users and keeps them from adopting the iOS because it’s too limited as an operating system.
I understand that Apple didn’t create this OS to have a file system. But some kind of work-around could be developed. I have the Dropbox app, and it does a fairly good job acting as a file manager. I use it to open images, watch video, read PDFs, and more. If a third-party company can do all this, Apple can do better.
9. Support Adobe Flash Video
This is so hopeless that saying this makes me feel like Don Quixote tilting at windmills, but Apple really should take the stick out and make the Safari browser support Adobe Flash.
In the last few months, I have used numerous Android-based smartphones and tablets that fully support Flash. This has made me realize how nice it is to do my everyday web surfing without having to regularly say “I’m sure that thing I can’t see isn’t important.”
Even supporting embedded Flash video would be a huge, huge improvement. I understand that Flash apps are a dicey business. On Android some of the easiest run, but the most demanding will crash like a drunk TV star.
10. Better Bluetooth Support
The iPhone and iPad can connect to external Bluetooth keyboards right out of the box, which is awesome. And they can, of course, use Bluetooth earpieces. The iPhone can even allow an iPad to share its Internet connection over a Bluetooth connection.
But there are other possibilities that are closed off. Admittedly, these are primarily iPad related, and Brighthand is a smartphone-related website, but I still think they are worth mentioning.
Using a Bluetooth Keyboard to enter text is a tremendous timesaver, but constantly reaching over the keyboard to tap things on the screen is kind of a hassle. Support for Bluetooth mice wold be wonderful.
Far and away the most popular version of Apple’s tablet is the WiFi-only one. And that version doesn’t have a built-in GPS. External Bluetooth GPS units are readily available, but the iPad can’t use them.
I mentioned earlier that an iPad can get its Internet connection from an iPhone via Bluetooth. This also works for smartphones running other operating systems… for 20 seconds. After that the connection is arbitrarily cut off. There seems no reason for this, aside from Apple wanting you to buy an iPhone.
There you have it, 10 suggestions for Apple’s engineers to consider when they get started on the next version of the iOS. But I’m sure there are things I missed. Please chime in with your own suggestions in the Brighthand Forums.
Ed Hardy has been Site Editor for Brighthand since 2002, and has been covering the mobile industry for over ten years, starting out with PDAs and transitioning to smartphones and tablets. He lives in Atlanta with his family and an undetermined number of cats.
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