Concepts

Person-centric computing: The future beyond iOS and OS X

This is the dream: You pick up a phone or a tablet, you sit down to a laptop or desktop, you walk up to a display of any kind, and all of your stuff is just there, ready and waiting for you to use or enjoy. It's the future of decoupled computing where intelligence is independent of environment, and where the device-centric world gives way to the person-centric experience. It's a future where iOS or OS X, cloud or client are abstract terms no mainstream human ever has to deal with or worry about. It's getting a lot of attention lately thanks to comments on convergence from Apple executives in an interview with Jason Snell on Macworld and the catchy "iAnywhere" label of a couple of analysts. What's more interesting to me is not so much the idea — computing as we know it will obviously continue to evolve — but the implementation. How could Apple make the person-centric experience a reality?

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Where's Print to PDF on iPhone and iPad?

When Apple introduced AirPrint to iOS, they made it incredibly easy to send files right from your iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad to any compatible Wi-Fi printer in the vicinity. Unfortunately, what Apple didn't do was bring Print to PDF (Export as PDF) along for the ride. At least, not yet...

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Imagining a 13-inch iPad Pro

The minute Apple launches a new device, say the iPad Air or Retina iPad mini, rumors switch immediately to the next. In this case, a 13-inch "iPad Pro". After all, if there can be a MacBook Air and a MacBook Pro, why not an iPad Air and iPad Pro? If Apple can make the iPad more portable, why not more powerful? Now, I'm not so much interested in the rumor — there will always be rumors — but in how Apple could realize such an object. Could iOS be scaled to that screen size, and what it would provide beyond the existing, 9.7-inch iPad, or the 11-inch or 13-inch MacBook Air. Previously I imagined a 4-inch iPhone, which became the iPhone 5, and a 7-inch iPad, which we later saw as the mini. Earlier this year I tried imagining a 5-inch iPhone, and... we'll see what happens with the iPhone 6. So now let's imagine a 13-inch iPad Pro...

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iOS 7 wants: Actionable notifications and push interface

Notification Center debuted in iOS 5 and began transforming Apple's old, unscalable, model alert system into something less obtrusive and more robust. Unfortunately, iOS 6 spent so much time setting up the future -- kicking Google to the curb, outsourcing social, and improving support for Asia -- that notifications were left pretty much at a standstill. Hopefully iOS 7's flatter and more consistent redesign won't occupy the lion's share of attention this time around, and Notification Center will not only catchup, but leap ahead. And hopefully it'll start with the transition from informational alerts to actionable ones.

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iOS 7 and my continued, unrequited desire for a Files.app!

Every year, for the last three years, I've asked Apple to consider what amounts to a Files.app and FilePicker control in iOS. It would be analogous to the Photos.app and ImagePicker control, but allow us to easily find, and easily open, all the documents we use on all our iPhones and iPads, every day. Now, on the eve of iOS 7, the need for better file handling -- not filesystem! -- remains, and if anything has become even more urgent. In a post-iCloud, post Steve Jobs and Scott Forstall world, how can Apple address it?

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Imagining an all-aluminium themed iOS 7

Skeuomorphism -- the use of real world design in a digital context -- has been a target lately. It's also been lumped together with heavy design, elaborate themes, or highly textured skins, to the point of being completely misunderstood. At the extreme, this "skeuomorphic" melange has been held up as an example of iOS being boring, outdated, and bereft of innovation. In more reasonably terms, it's looked at as something that can be useful, but has perhaps been overused.

Personally I think there are far more important things Apple needs to do in iOS 7 than wiping the world clean of textures, gradients, and curves, both, but the argument persists so it's worthwhile giving it some form. but let's imagine for a moment it is on the agenda. That Apple's new head of all design, hardware and software, Jony Ive, was set to impose a new, unified, Aluminium theme. That, just like the Scarlet Witch in House of M, he whispered "No more themes."

Instead of arguing in the abstract about how much better or worse it would be, let's mock it up and see what could that look like...

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Imagining a 5-inch iPhone 6

Never mind rumors of an awkwardly named 4.8-inch "iPhone Math", the concept of a much larger iPhone has been floating about ever since the realities of early LTE chipsets -- and the batteries that came with them -- forced Android and Windows-based competitors to break the size barrier. Before the 16:9 iPhone 5 was announced, I examined some of the different ways Apple could go to 4-inches. More recently, following the launch of the iPad mini and the Droid DNA, I took a quick look at how Apple could achieve a 1080p+, 440ppi+ phone, one that would sit between 4-inches and 7.9-inches.

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Would you want an iPad 5 that looks and feels just like an iPad mini?

If Apple can produce an iPad 5 with Retina display, 10-hours of battery life, and make it anywhere close to as light and thin for its 9.7-inch size as the iPad mini is at 7.9, would you want them to? Would an iPad 5 that looks and feels like an iPad mini be your next iPad?

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iOS 7 wants: Album art centered on Lock screen

Album art has never been perfectly centered on the iPhone or iPod touch Lock screens. It's been placed immediately on top of the slide-to-unlock bar. Because of the 3:2 aspect ratio of previous iPhone and iPod touch devices, however, and because the top of the album art and the reflection beneath it peak through the translucent time and slide-to-unlock bars, the visual weighting was close enough to appear centered and thus, balanced. Not so with the iPhone 5 and its 16:9 aspect ratio. Now the bottom alignment of album art lookes decidedly bottom heavy. Worse, there's a big black gap between the top of the album art and the bottom of the time bar.

The advantage of bottom aligning album artwork on the 16:9 display is that none of it is obscured by the name of the song, and even when you double-click the Home button to bring up the music controls, very little is obscured. The disadvantage is, in design parlance, "Oh god, my eyes, my eyes..."

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Solving for 7: How Apple could implement the iPad mini interface

There's been a lot of discussion surrounding why Apple would release an iPad mini, but maybe even more concerning how Apple would go about implementing it. iMore originally heard back in May that the so-called iPad mini would be almost identical to the current 9.7-inch iPad, simply shrunk down to a 7.x-inch form factor. (I'm using 7.x-inch in lieu of a specific size since we haven't heard a specific size yet, but AppAdvice's A.T Faust III made a great case for 7.85 inches, so feel free to substitute that in.)

Some people, designers and end-users alike, feel the iPad interface won't scale down elegantly -- that touch targets will be too small and interface elements will feel too cramped. I've had the same concerns.

With that in mind, it's worthwhile considering the different 7.x-inch options Apple might choose to implement, and the benefits and compromises inherent with each.

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