ios 6 concepts

iOS 7 wants: Siri access via Spotlight

Apple greatly expanded Siri in iOS 6, adding a host of new features including sports, movies, and dining results, far better language support, and even an Eyes Free driving mode for when hands-free usage is paramount.

But what about Voice Free? Having a conversation with your iPhone or (soon) iPad is something straight out of science fiction. But voice isn't always the best or most appropriate way to query data, and sometimes it's not even possible.

Apple could address a lot of problems by allowing text queries into Siri via the existing Spotlight interface.

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The multi-billion dollar balancing act

As much as what Apple may or may not do with iOS 6 will dictate the iPhone and iPad user experience for the next year, what Apple does or does not do with the App Store will help determine the continued and future viability of the platform itself.

That's because iOS is only one part of Apple's incredibly successful mobile equation. The App Store -- the development kit, commerce engine, and digital goods that enable apps to be made, sold, and bought -- is another.

And arguably, despite it's unprecedented success, it's in ever greater need of Apple's attention.

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iOS 6: A fresh coat of paint

Sometimes you break out the sledge hammer. Sometimes you knock down the walls and rebuild from scratch. Palm did that. Microsoft did that. RIM is doing that. Other times you pick up a brush and slap a coat of paint on the walls, and the place suddenly looks good as new. (And yes, there's a trompe-l'oeil to skeuomorphism joke in there that I'm going to gingerly avoid.)

As much as we've explored the idea of new iOS Home screen interfaces, and what potential a 4-inch, 16:9 iPhone screen may allow, we've also been hearing for a while now that renovation may not be on the agenda this year. For iOS 6, what we might be getting is more like a coat of really good paint.

But which colors will they use?

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iOS 6: Higher hanging fruit

What will Apple bring to iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad with iOS 6? What will be the "tentpole" features to take Apple's mobile software into 2013? With WWDC 2012 coming in just over a week, and an iOS 6 beta widely expected to come with it, now's the perfect time to take a look and see what makes sense.

We've already seen some of what is likely coming in iOS 6, including a new version of the Maps app that replaces Google data with Apple data. It wouldn't surprise us in the least if it brings turn-by-turn navigation with it either, by way of Siri...

But what else could Apple bring with iOS 6?

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iOS 6: Is it time for Apple to revamp the multitasking fast app switcher?

At Macworld 2007 Steve Jobs showed off mobile Safari's Page switching interface, but despite the operating system as a whole crying out for similar treatment, to this day Pages haven't expanded beyond Safari. At the iOS 4 event in the spring of 2010, the iPhone added limited 3rd party multitasking and a fast app switcher interface, but rather than Pages or even an Exposé-esque grid interface, it locked to the Dock.

And as far as showing currently open apps, making those apps as visually distinguishable as possible, and making them as fast as possible to switch between, that's where iOS has remained. Even on the iPad's far larger screen.

Is it time for something more?

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The 16:9 iPhone

A few days ago rumors began to focus on the idea that Apple was moving to a 4-inch screen on the iPhone 5 (or whatever Apple ends up calling iPhone 5,1). I went through the mental exercise of mocking up, and breaking down, the various 4-inch iPhone options to try and figure out how Apple would get there.

Now, however, the rumors are coalesced around one specific option -- one I initially thought had fewer advantages, and was hence less likely -- a 16:9 aspect ratio, 1136 x 640 display.

So what would could Apple, a company that prides itself in saying "no" even more than saying "yes", consider switching their best selling product, the iPhone, to a 16:9 screen?

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How Apple could provide direct document access in iOS 6

For a couple of years now, before every major release of iOS, I've begged and pleaded for a native iOS documents repository. Not a file system like OS X, but something that would do for documents what Photos.app and the photo picker do for images.

Right now, even absent a file system and hierarchy, it's still too complex, confusing, and unwieldy for users to remember, find, and attach documents in iOS. iOS 6 is a chance for Apple to change that, and a Files app and documents picker are simple, consistent, convenient ways to do it.

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iOS 6 wants: The opposite of widgets

Last week I ruminated out loud about whether or not Apple needs to redesign the iOS Home screen. We've continued to discuss it on the podcast and in the forums and I realized something: as much as it'd be nice to information from apps and make it glanceable on the Home Screen, it'd be even better to take functionality of apps and make it accessibly from within other apps.

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iOS 6: Is it time for Apple to revamp the Home screen?

At Macworld 2007 Steve Jobs pulled the original iPhone from his pocket, held it up high above the stage, and showed off the app launcher-based Home screen... that's pretty much remained the same ever since.

That's not entirely true, of course. Apple quickly added the ability to create WebClip icons for websites, and to re-arrange and delete them. With iOS 2 (iPhone OS 2) they added native apps to that mix. They increased the number of Home pages. They added Spotlight. They added wallpaper. With iOS 4 they layered in the multitasking fast app switcher. They layered in folders. The iPad, and the iPad alone, got landscape Home screen support. With iOS 5 they layered in Notification Center and Siri.

Is it time for something more?

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iOS 6 wants: Granular privacy control

Like with Notification Center, Apple should look to and improve upon what Google's done with Android to better keep our Contacts safe.

Earlier this week the internet got itself into a kerfuffle over Path, a small-circle social networking app for the iPhone, which took Contact information without asking and openly transmitted it to Path's servers. It's an important issue to be sure, one worth getting into a kerfuffle over, and Path eventually apologized and vowed to make changes. But Path was only one of many, many apps to act this way.

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