ios 7 wants

WWDC 2013 and iOS 7: What we didn't get

WWDC 2013 brought with it this year a dizzying number of changes from new MacBook Airs to OS X Mavericks and more. Undoubtedly, the largest announcement was iOS 7 which brings with it an all new flattened interface, lots of new features, and improvements upon older ones.

We talked about all our iOS 7 wants over the past several months. You guys gave your feedback too. Now that we know what iOS 7 brings to the table, let's take a look at what we wanted, but didn't get this time around.

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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 At the extreme, this "skeuomorphic" melange has been held up as an example of iOS being boring, outdated, and bereft of innovation.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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iOS 7 wants: Better App Store search usability

With iOS 6, Apple has totally changed the way search results appear in the on-device App Store app. With the old App Store search, five results were immediately visible in a list view, and you could vertically scroll or flick quickly through large amounts more. With the new iOS 6 App Store search, only one result is visible at a time, and you whether you scroll or flick, you only ever get one result more at a time. And that's not good.

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iOS 7 wants: Ability to mute alerts when on a call

Since the early days of the iPhone, we've received a steady stream of complaints about how alerts are handled when you're on a call. Namely, you can have the phone to your ear, chatting away, when suddenly a text message comes in and the tone and/or vibrate goes off full blast into your ear and rattles through your skull. Since push notifications launched for 3rd party apps, especially the trumpeting horror that is Game Center, it's only gotten worse. If you're not used it to and expecting it, it can make you want to drop your phone and start stomping. That's only mild hyperbole, mind you, as that's exactly what several significant others have told us, with rage-filled eyes, after it happened to them for the first time.

While some people may want to make absolutely sure they don't miss an important alert while on a phone call, and are willing to pay the price in low-yield skull trauma, others would pay a significant amount of money for the option to turn it off.

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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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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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