Top 5 big name apps we want to see on iPhone and iPad in 2011

TiPb breaks down the must have apps we want to see from Apple, Adobe, Google, Microsoft, and RIM/BlackBerry for iPhone and iPad

Despite hundreds of thousands of iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad apps in the App Store, there are still some huge gaps, and major apps missing from the big players, including Apple themselves, Adobe, Google, Microsoft, and BlackBerry maker RIM. Some of the best known software on the market simply isn't available for iOS. We're hoping that changes in 2011, and after the break are the apps we're hoping help make the change!

Apple: Files

iPhone iPad files appI wrote at length about the need for a Finder app and amended it to a Files app in 2010 and now, at the beginning of 2011, it still tops my list for new iPhone and iPad apps I want from Apple. The reason is simple: document access on iOS as it currently stands is a nightmare. Apple's own iDisk and third parties like DropBox and offer functionality that really should be native and as off-line as it is on. Again, the Photo app is the model. It preserves the sandbox by providing a central repository for files, and allows them to easily be opened via the Picker in any other app. What Photos does or images and video, Files should do for documents (and both should do via Safari so we can upload to the web, just saying...). Apple, make it happen.

Also want:

  • iWork for iPhone. We have it for iPad, we've seen it teased for iPhone, it can't possibly not be released in 2011.
  • iPhoto for iOS. Create albums, move photos between them, do basic editing like crop and red-eye removal, and sync selected photos. We got iMovie for iPhone (and hopefully for iPad 2 soon), give us iPhoto.

Adobe: Flash Player

For years people have been angry at Apple for the lack of Flash support. And that's ridiculous. It's entirely Adobe's fault for coasting on shoddy code for the last five years and only delivering a workable mobile Flash, in beta, near the end of 2010. But deliver it they have. It's not great; I've disabled it on my Nexus One, but Adobe is working on it fearfully hard, and Google and Palm and RIM have chosen to support it (and in so doing slowed the switch to HTML 5. Jerks.), so it'll get good enough. I don't think Apple would allow a Flash plugin like on other devices -- it's a security risk and a user experience hit -- but a Flash Player? Apple could work with Adobe to create a Flash app much like the YouTube app. A single app that, if it detects Flash video anywhere else on the device, especially Safari, it can take the handoff and play it in its own little, highly optimized, hopefully hardware accelerated, Flash-cookie-free sandbox. (Much how the QuickTime player handles H.264 video). It's not 2007 anymore, and 2011 isn't Flash free, so it's time to bite the bullet on this one.

Also want:

  • Creative Suite Viewer That I can view AutoCad docs on my iPhone and iPad and not Photoshop, Illustrator, or InDesign is a disgrace. Get on that, Adobe!

Google: Gmail

I don't want to come off as greedy, since my mind is still blown by getting Google Voice and Google Latitude in 2010, but in 2011 I really, truly would like a native Gmail app that can handle things like attaching pictures and video (and, right Apple?). In a perfect world Google would have made Gmail more compatible with other mail systems, seamlessly handling labels as folders and stars as flags. In a perfect world, Apple would actually handle things like stars/flags in the built-in Mail app. But keeping with the pragmatic theme of this post, and acknowledging how annoying separate email apps are on Android, I'd still like a native Gmail app for iPhone and iPad. If it gets decent push notifications built in, like the Google Mobile app, I won't even have to worry about iOS not having a "set default mail client" setting.

Also want:

  • Google Navigation When Android got this for free we heard rumors iPhone would be getting it as well. Then not. Then again. Then not again. Google, just do it.

(If you could somehow get Apple to add those newfangled vector graphics to the Google-powered, built-in Maps app, we'd appreciate that as well).

Microsoft: Office

Documents to Go is great. QuickOffice is grand. Even Google Docs is usable over the web. But Microsoft, baby (can I call you baby?) none of those are Office. Sure, Office is a beast of a suite, as frustrating as it is fantastic, but it's the standard and it belongs on iPhone and iPad. You've built it for Windows Mobile. You've built it for Windows Phone. You've even built it for Mac and are working on it for Nokia. You know how to do Apple and you know how to do mobile, so it's time to do Mobile Apple. Sure you lose a differentiator for your own OS, but you had no problem doing that for Exchange, did you? Microsoft, stop teasing us and make 2011 the year of Word, Excel, and PowerPoint for iPhone and iPad. Okay?

Also want:

  • Outlook ActiveSync is okay but for hard core Exchange users a native Outlook app is every bit as important as a native Gmail app is to Googlers. Let's get that sync'ed.
  • Zune Pass Apple hasn't done subscription music yet but they have sold a gazillion iOS devices. Get those users on Zune Pass before launches.

RIM: BlackBerry Connect

CrackBerry Kevin already laid out why, in a post Kik-world, RIM would be better off owning the cross-platform instant messaging space than sitting on the sidelines while some third-party service breaks the crack off from the berry, so I'll just echo his sentiments here. BlackBerry Connect used to bring BlackBerry Messenger (BBM) to other devices; it could do the same again. Do I expect to see Big Mike bound across a WWDC stage any time soon? No, but Apple did announce a Microsoft ActiveSync license at the iOS 2 event in 2008, so announcing a BlackBerry Connect license in 2011 wouldn't be unprecedented.

Also want:

  • BrickBreaker. Kidding! Give me BBM and I'm good.

Your picks?

Those the top 5 big name apps I'd like to see come to iPhone and iPad in 2011. What are yours? (Besides Facebook for iPad, of course!)

Have something to say about this story? Leave a comment! Need help with something else? Ask in our forums!

Rene Ritchie

EiC of iMore, EP of Mobile Nations, Apple analyst, co-host of Debug, Iterate, Vector, Review, and MacBreak Weekly podcasts. Cook, grappler, photon wrangler. Follow him on Twitter and Google+.

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Reader comments

Top 5 big name apps we want to see on iPhone and iPad in 2011


You will never see flash player. Iworks probably instead of office. You might have to wait for google to make an app for gmail. Rim doesn't want to help out apple. The kinda likely one is files.

A much more robust iBank for iPhone. I get more meaningful information from than I do from the iBank app. I would prefer not having to manage two different sets of categories.

iWorks or Microsoft Office perhaps even open office, also Gmail. I would like BBM for everyone but it is not going to happen.

I have to agree bbm would be the greatest thing since sliced bread on the iPhone my fingers are crossed, maybe all of us should blow up mike's emails saying we all want bbm.

I know this is a fairly small segment, but I'd LOVE to see Rockwell Automation come out with a solution for connecting an iPad to a PLC and monitoring the program and data tables.

Files is desperately needed, Flash is just a waste of time and will never happen the way it does on Android, but I think most likely and most useful app is the Gmail app. Most power iPhone users have Gmail as their primary personal email address and to have it separate from your work Exchange account would be magnificent. Push notifications and attachment handling would make it a must have since Gmail simply does the web interface better than anything else out there.

I don't ask for much, just a good evite app. Oh, and native file editing and syncronization would be nice.

Call of Duty for iPhone/iPad!
I know they have zombies, but a full game with campaign mode and online multi player would be awesome. They should at least make the zombies app have the latest maps.

HUGE YES to all of these. Best article in a long time, illuminating exactly what this phone needs in Apps. Thanks!

I love the Evite app idea!!!! That would be amazing!! BBM is on the Ultimate (But Will NEVER Happen) Wish List :)

I disagree on a couple of things... If the file system gets opened up to the end user, then people just start to lose files.. then you need a spotlight index so that you don't have to care about the file system again... why not just skip the middleman plus tear down the walls between apps? Your pdf viewer apps should just automatically see every pdf available, etc. Palm used to do this just fine with their file type/creator scheme (sounds familiar?)
The thing I really would like to see is a global presence/availability switch. FaceTime, Skype, Meebo, Beejive or whatever, you should be able to say "I'm busy" and all of them should read and obey that.
And Flash? Just let it die.

Rene, get your facts straight. Bbm never ever worked on a different platform. Blackberry connect was email only. But really man, get your facts straight before you publish on the site. You look bad right now. At least ask Kevin about the blackberry stuff. Your mistakes make tipb look second rate. Wether it's spelling mistakes, grammar, pure fiction, or non facts such as this.

A great big Oh He!! No! to Flash. It would absolutely blow, and Apple would get the blame, even though it's Adobe that can't get their act together. Just let Flash die already.
iWork would be nice to have. I couldn't care less about BBC. Don't think I know more than 2 people who still carry a BB these days.
MS Office... I doubt we'll see this any time in the foreseeable future. MS won't do it until Windows Mobile in any incarnation is completely dead.
Native Gmail app... Yes, flags & such would be nice, but there are already 4 different ways to get Gmail built into the stock iPhone. Mail does Pop, IMAP and Exchange protocols plus the web interface from mobile Safari. I just got a unified inbox in mail, why would I want to break my gmail account out of that to yet another app?
Files! Yes! Absolutely! I was kind of surprised it wasn't in 4.0. It really should be.

There's already a Gmail app on the app store. I'm pretty sure it's made by Google too, but I can't be too sure.

Office, iWork, yeah, those would be nice but what I really want to see this year is Spaceward Ho! for iOS!! I can't believe they haven't ported it over yet.

VIIGO for iPhone would be great. I'm addicted! As I type, I am going back and forth between my iPhone and blackberry because of BBM, and Viigo.

Luke; no, it's not. Personally, I'm sure as hell not giving some random third party app maker access to something with so much of my life as my gmail account and password. Might as well use a no-name third party banking app.

I totally agree with Blackberry connect, either that or iPhone makes an iPhone messager, that would blow RIM away..

I would love to see MS Office on the iPhone/iPad. The lack of Office is the primary reason that I don't own an iPad.

if you want flash support for video not games, why not bite the bullet and buy the skyfire browser app for $2.99. it says not all flash conent will be shown... but i can tell you things such as espn3 work fine in it :-)

As a new owner of the iPad2, I'm really enjoying the device. My wish would be for the video app on my iPad to be able to "see" video files on the camera connector kit. As it currently works, videos on a SD card are shown without their file names or thumbnails - so picking out a video requires that you know how long each video's runtime is. A bit silly.
Such an enhancement merely formally extends the photo app metaphor to provide a more robust solution for videos. Perhaps a similar capability for documents might suffice, without making Apple nervous about exposing the file system's inner workings.

Let me get this straight.1-I use up my data allocation2-I can get the current episodes free3-Though my cable costs 2xs as much I get 10 the programming channels plus on-demand (back episodesno charge for the channel I already get)for $10 a month!!!Sounds too high to me