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OS X Mavericks features that'd be great to see in iOS 8

Almost two years ago I wrote a short list of things I wanted Apple to bring back to the iPad. It was following the first OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion preview, and it included things like rich text in Notes, a more spatially consistent Notification Center, and iOS version of iPhoto for iOS, per-account Mail signatures, top sites in Safari, and a better app switcher, more like Mission Control. Well, subsequent Apple events, and iOS 7 gave us pretty much all that and more. But now OS X Mavericks has shipped and we're starting the slow build towards iOS 8 so guess what? I've got a new list of Mac features I'd like to see brought back, not just to the iPad, but to iOS in general. Here they are...

1. Battery shaming

One of my favorite Mavericks features is "Apps Using Significant Energy", the drop-down menu bar feature that highlight what's hitting your system the hardest. For laptop users, it lets you quickly identify and shut down power-hungry apps that are adversely affecting your battery life. Better, it shames the companies responsible for those apps - looking at you Apple, Google, and Adobe! - into doing everything they can to make sure they don't show up in that list. An average person probably doesn't need to know the deep details, and arguably should never be booted into Activity Monitor to find out, but companies knowing that customers know is worth it. It's how you effect change.

Power hungry apps are a problem on iOS as well, as are rogue processes. Right now, there's no easy way to identify and terminate them, which leads even mainstream people to "close all apps", which is an incredibly bad solution. If iOS could identify and shame the companies responsible for those apps, like Mavericks does, it would make it much easier to know which apps you might want to, or need to, shut down. Make them glow red, add a little red battery icon to them, something, anything, just tattle on the bad corporate citizens so they're encouraged to fix their behavior faster, and we can kill them more easily until they do.

There are power hungry apps on iOS as well

2. Enhanced (local) dictation (+Siri)

In Mavericks you can choose to enable enhanced dictation - which basically means you download almost 800MB and no longer have to rely on a cloud sever to have your speech translated into text - and enjoy offline, continuous, use with live feedback. In other words, no internet connection, no problem. Just talk and your Mac will take care of everything all by itself.

Siri on iOS desperately needs this feature. Android-style natural language and context coprocessors - like the Apple M7 - would be ideal, but simply moving the speech to text engine onto the iPhone and iPad would be an incredible step forward. Imagine, you'd no longer have to worry about a network connection to do completely local tasks like setting an alarm or opening an app. It would remove a huge potential - and all-to-often real - point of failure and go a long way towards bringing Apple's service up to par with Google's.

3. Interactive (actionable) notifications

Interactive (actionable) notifications

When an iMessage comes in on Mavericks the OS X version of Notification Center pops up a banner with a reply button on it. Hit that button and you know what doesn't happen? You don't get booted out of what you're doing and sent flying into the Messages app. Instead you get a reply button which, if you hit it, opens up an elegant, unobtrusive field that lets you quickly type in and send a response, right from inside the notification banner. Nirvana!

On a multiple windowing platform like OS X, it's a nice-to-have. On a single window platform like iOS, it's a must-have. It's not just because iOS, which is good at sending you to other apps if you tap a notification, absolutely sucks at bringing you back to your original app once you've finished, it that on a mobile device, I shouldn't have to go hunting for apps. They should come to me. Replying to email, tweets, or messages is one thing, quickly resetting a timer or alarm in-notification is another. We're still in the dark ages of notifications on iOS. We need to leap forward and join OS X in the sun.

4. Calendar Travel Time

In the Calendar app on Mavericks, if you set a location for an event or appointment - which can be populated from your Contacts - you can also surface the travel time it will take to get you there. With just a click, Mavericks will use your current location and the location you're going to, and offer up estimated times for driving or walking.

Populating locations based on Contacts, and especially offering up estimated travel times would be even more convenient on mobile because there's a much greater likelihood I'm actually out traveling at the time, making it even more valuable at the moment.Tap Calendar, tap add, tap Location, choose from a list or enter a new one that pull in Maps data, add travel time, and bingo. On the go and I know how long its going to take to get there.

I wonder if M7 could provide more accurate walking direction travel time estimates. If it knows you tend to lurch, stroll, strut, jog, etc.?

(Of course, the silver bullet here is pushing all of this into Siri and making it more automagically Google Now-like, right?)

5. A few more things...

There are some things we didn't get from Mountain Lion, and previous versions of iOS, that I'd still love to see in iOS 8. I'm not talking about grand things, like multiple user accounts (which iOS isn't set up to handle), Gate Keeper, which runs counter to Apple's policy for iOS apps anyway, and contracts/intents/default apps, which have already been begged for ad nauseam. but some things from last year's list, and some new ones I've thought up since.

  • FaceTime Conference Calls, like the old version of iChat
  • AirPrint to PDF, because I haven't owned a printer in 7 years but I share PDFs all the time.
  • Unified messages, so iMessage, AIM, Jabber, even Twitter can all be accessed from the same, built-in app.

Bonus: AirDrop (a cross-compatible version)

With iOS 7 Apple seemingly brought AirDrop from the Mac to the iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad. What they actually did was bring the AirDrop name. Turns out, for reasons I'd argue did nothing but cause confusion, someone at Apple chose to use the same name for two totally different transfer protocols. That's why you can send data between two Macs, and between two iOS devices, but not from OS X to iOS or vice versa.


So, for iOS 8, it's be great if Apple either chose one, unified, compatible AirDrop implementation for both platforms, so that any data that can be shared between both can be shared between both.

Your things...?

If you're using OS X Mavericks, I'd love to hear what you'd like to see brought back to iOS. What did I forget?

Rene Ritchie

Rene Ritchie is one of the most respected Apple analysts in the business, reaching a combined audience of over 40 million readers a month. His YouTube channel, Vector, has over 90 thousand subscribers and 14 million views and his podcasts, including Debug, have been downloaded over 20 million times. He also regularly co-hosts MacBreak Weekly for the TWiT network and co-hosted CES Live! and Talk Mobile. Based in Montreal, Rene is a former director of product marketing, web developer, and graphic designer. He's authored several books and appeared on numerous television and radio segments to discuss Apple and the technology industry. When not working, he likes to cook, grapple, and spend time with his friends and family.

  • What about two apps running side by side? Like in windows 8. The iPad is an amazing device, but there are a few things it desperately needs to make it a better productivity machine. If Apple could reinvent the way that apps shuttle around information (think writing a pages document while researching and quoting Wikipedia), and add some sort of OSX. Until these two usability bottlenecks are solved, iOS on the iPad will never be the ultimate productivity device. And I don't care what anybody says, I didn't spend almost $1000 on an iPad just to watch videos and read magazines, I use it as my main productivity device...these features would be VERY welcome in iOS 8 and iOS 9.
  • Every single app ever made will have to change code to allow for that. That's how iOS apps work. They are custom-built to fit the screen. And you got a very expensive iPad there. ;)
  • I bought the $729 Air. Anyway. I get your point but I'm a consumer not an engineer. The bottom line is that Apple needs to figure out a solution for this. Why couldn't it be like any other API? If the app developer doesn't update for this feature, the app is incapable of doing it. This will put pressure on developers to update their apps to support it. If Apple wanted to do this, they could. I have a feeling they don't see a need, and want to stick with the one app at a time concept for iOS. This is a mistake in my opinion. Whether or not consumers use the split screen view in windows 8, it is nice to have it as an option.
  • No need. With background apps, you know the app is still doing its thing. Watching it doesn’t make it run any better, and consuming cycles with whatever else you’re actively doing will certainly slow that down.
  • Hmm. Although I think forcing windowing metaphors on a multitouch OS is a bad idea, there is a potential obvious path to get two apps to appear on one screen for the purposes of easier copy/pasting. When the device is in landscape mode, the two apps can be stacked side-by-side, each in their already designed portrait mode. No new coding for the developer. Vice versa for when the device is in portrait orientation (two landscaped apps stacked vertically). For the purposes of simplicity, the developer needs to do nothing but flag the app as split screen comparable (meaning it needs to be able to display in both orientations, and have things to copy/paste). Apple will take care of the rest. Imagine choosing specially marked apps via the multitasking mode. Only things that are already accessible to the copy buffer system-wide will cross over: text, photos, videos, etc. I think it can actually work. I constantly copy/paste things between two apps (such as copying a GIF in Safari and pasting it in Messages). A dual screen implementation that's simple for the user and a non-issue for the developer may just work. Maybe I should try a mockup:)
  • I give you thumbs up... please do come up with a mockup.
    All you say makes great sense, and i also would love to see it happen on but not on iOS 8, but in iOS 7.5.
    Apple has to increase updates, during the year with real new options, not only once a year.
    This would be a great option to be available first quarter 2014.
  • Yeah, I didn't expect to get that from Microsoft first. It's almost 2014 and iPad still doesn't take the full advantage of it's display.
  • As someone who has a Surface 2 as well as an iPad mini I would love to have the split screen apps.
  • No thanks. An iPad isn't and shouldn't be a Mac. Add multi window, then you need seamless drag-and-drop. Add that, you might as well start running OS X. Do that, might as well buy an 11-inch MacBook Air. iOS is a success because it isn't a windowing environment. I imagine active notifications/push interface will replace multi-window one day anyway.
  • Why not? That's the way I see things going. An 11" MacBook Air is about twice the cost of an ipad. I know that Apple isn't huge on giving options/flexibility (getting better) in their mobile devices but to have a similar experience to the desktop experience would be great. I'm hoping that the next ipad has 2GB of RAM and could be a real replacement for small laptops, assuming iOS moves that way.
  • Because a Mac is better for that. Sporks are awkward.
  • This statement isn't very forward thinking.
  • a very apple-esk statement.
  • If you were to get a 128 GB iPad, it's either $800 or $930 depending on if you get it with or without cellular. Making an 11" MacBook Air only $200 or $70 more expensive. If you're gong to compare prices, you'd want to compare it to an iPad with similar amount of flash storage.
  • But I wouldn't get a 128GB iPad, so no I wouldn't want to compare those.
  • You see though, that's exactly why your point is moot. You're saying "MacBook Air is twice the cost" but that's because you're getting 4 times the amount of stuff. For it to be "twice" you have to be referencing the 16 GB version. Now if there was a 16 GB version of the MacBook Air, then you can compare prices. But since there isn't, your argument that it's "twice the cost" is invalid.
  • You're point that the storage space is what drives the price or what allows it to run a more capable OS is moot. Should 128GB ipad owners be pissed because they paid nearly the cost of an macbook air and they can't run OSX?
  • Actually, my point is that you shouldn't compare apples to oranges, so it's not moot. And considering that Apple charges $300 to go from 16GB to 128GB, when the actual cost to them is only $60, is enough to get anyone pissed. Storage is cheap these days, there is no reason for Apple to have $100 increments on their iPads.
  • Most people that pay for the large capacity of iPads aren't really paying attention to the price. Its about the experience in general and peace of mind. If something goes wrong, I know for a fact Apple will back up the product with no runaround. If cost was really the issue, most would just purchase a cheaper tablet and buy an SD card.
  • Agreed -- until that last sentence. Multi-window will never go away, because there are too many use cases that rely on it, and for which notifications are insufficient. You use them all the time, though they recede into the background (snicker) so naturally you might not even realize it. - Writing with a research application (or tab) open, with both visible at the same time. There are thousands of permutations of this (an IDE with stackoverflow also open for a coder, Word and Wikipedia for the students, a humble blog author writing an article while looking at the news he/she is summarizing, and so on)
    - Photography work with document and assets in a Finder view simultaneously. Similar for other creative workflows, for that matter
    - Office vertical application and standard productivity apps open at the same time -- see this in just about every small business you go to This isn't to get snippy and say that you need windowing for Real Work (tm). Clearly, non-windowing environments like iOS are perfectly conducive to a lot of workflows. But not all of them, nor will they ever be.
  • Sorry, I meant the demand for it on iPad-style devices. You'd need to pull it form my cold, dead Mac hands.
  • dibs on your gadgets!
  • Microsoft did multiple window support in metro for Windows 8, are you saying it was a mistake Rene?
  • Samsung also did it with their devices as well.
  • Yes, and so did the market. Apple showed the world how to make a tablet with the iPad, then everyone tried to compete by making their tablet more computer like (PlayBook, Honeycomb, Surface, etc.) and the market rejected them. Most people aren't geeks and nerds. Most people find traditional computers intimidating, confusing, confounding, inaccessible, and unenjoyable. Multiple apps at the same time is a part of that. It's like manual vs. automatic transmission in a car. Sure, geeks want their clutches, but for most people automatic is just far, far more useable. iPad the way it is is more usable. (And my guess is push interface will solve the problem without resorting to multiple windows in the future.)
  • I see your point, and I completely I'll phrase it in a different way that perhaps you will understand where I am coming from. Whether or not we agree that the iPad should always maintain its "one app at a time" philosophy really is irrelevant. The bigger picture is really that OS X is way more computer than most consumers really need. For a large population of users out there, iOS can fulfill the majority of their computing needs. But at the present time, even someone like my dad needs to use a "real" computer to do some business, and higher productivity related tasks. The problem isn't with the iPad, or necessarily Mac OS X...the problem is that there exists a gaping hole in between an iPad running iOS and a laptop running OS X. I think Apple needs to create either a more sophisticated version of iOS, and put it on something like a Macbook Air...or, dumb down OS X quite a bit by hiding most of the file system, and all of the complications that come from a traditional PC operating system. Basically, they need to create iOSX. So...90% of users can ditch the truck, and have their iPhone, iPad, and Macbook air running iOSX. And the other 10%, and businesses can continue to run their traditional PC OS for their more complicated tasks. But as things stand, either an iPad has to become a little more complex, and allow more than one app to perform tasks at a time. Or a bifurcated version of OS X has to exist to fill the void for users who love their iPad, and wish it just had a little more power so that it, or something like it, could be their only computing device.
  • The Windows 8 Metro implementation is pretty slick and simple in that it relies on gestures. Why shouldn't an iPad have a similar capability? It's not like a normal floating windows desktop environment.
  • because it cant without having every app redesigned to work with it. BUT, I do think it will happen in the next couple years... it will just happen sooner for android.
  • It should work by using a universal executable on the iPad and displaying iPhone widget-ed apps to the left or right of the main window where all the screen elements collapse or grow according to the amount of available screen space they are given. and it should be queued up by the four finger from side to side gesture.
  • Split-screen makes sense when you are using a 16:9 screen and have tons of horizontal screen estate to spare. On a 4:3 iPad, won't this just result in apps which are squashed too thin? Though in theory, it would be perfect for running 2 iPhone apps side by side (using the old 3:2 screen ratio, 2 apps would be 4:3). So maybe iPhone safari alongside iPhone version of pages?
  • Side by side? Hm I can see your point. I tried it with android (yes yes, I'm an apple fanboy but I also use android - variety is what makes the world great, right?)... To be honest, it doesn't always work well with Android, BUT I'd love to see Apple perfect that. Sent from the iMore App
  • Actionable notifications has to be my Number 1!! Really thought they would've implemented that in iOS 7. Fingers crossed for iOS 8! Sent from the iMore App
  • I have a Z10 and plan on getting an iphone 6 and I will definitely miss actionable notifications and unified inbox. Come on iOS 8 I expect you to have a large increase in content and functionality.
  • 1, 2 & 3 please!!! Also, bring back the quick option to Tweet from the Notification Center or the new Control Center. Speaking of 1: does anyone else feel that iMessage is a major battery drain? Maybe it's the way I use it. Rene, I think for an actionable notification (re: iMessage) a simple solution would be like the Share cards that pop up when in safari and you want to post it to Twitter. Sent from the iMore App
  • Tweet doesn't belong in Notification Center. I would like to see it in Control Center though :)
  • Oh, I second this. I miss having that quick option to send out a tweet without opening my app. While I love tweetbot, I sometimes just want to send something out without having to look like a dork using Siri to do it.
  • Launch Center Pro is in my dock for quick things like messages and quick tweets. I was using an Android for a month while waiting on my iPhone 5s and it had actionable text notifications and it was the most annoying thing. I would rather dismiss or tap the notification if I want to respond. It was rather a nuisance to have to respond with the pop up notifications. Sent from the iMore App
  • 1, 2 & 3 please!!! Also, bring back the quick option to Tweet from the Notification Center or the new Control Center. Speaking of 1: does anyone else feel that iMessage is a major battery drain? Maybe it's the way I use it. Rene, I think for an actionable notification (re: iMessage) a simple solution would be like the Share cards that pop up when in safari and you want to post it to Twitter. Sent from the iMore App
  • I always live to hear about predictions or hopes for future operating systems. Keep them coming. I want OS X to get the new UI that iOS got I absolutely love the new UI! Sent from the iMore App
  • ‘Up Next’ in the music app would be nice too. They already have a decent UI for it figured out with the remote app. Oh and document tagging - maybe with a tags app that pulls documents together from various apps. helping with the whole document silo issue.
  • Yes! I want to be able to tell Siri "play x and y after this".
  • I'd prefer a and document picker like and image picker for that. Tags I've been pondering but it would add complexity.
  • Yes, the quick reply would be nice. Also, I would like the ability to move my icons on the home screen to wherever I would like. And lastly, I think there should be a lock screen option to increase the size of the time, I think that would be a nice addition. Sent from the iMore App
  • Shadows and depth.
  • That was a great list Rene. I also would love to have actionable notifications. And more involved Siri features also. Sent from the iMore App
  • I find there is so much wrong with iOS 7, and so much of it that needs fixing or at least smoothing out, that extra features are the last thing on my mind. That being said, I agree a thousand percent with Rene on the AirPrint to PDF. Who uses printers anymore anyway?
  • Yup, gotta be only a few old timers left using printers /s Sent from the iMore App
  • I'd like to be able to arrange my icons in ANY orientation. It's silly that iOS hasn't implemented this feature yet >:(.
  • fully agree Sent from the iMore App
  • I'd also like something similar to the app drawer/list in Android/Windows so I don't have to have a "crap" folder taking up space on my home screen.
  • + 1 AirPrint to PDF Sent from the iMore App
  • + 1 AirPrint to PDF Sent from the iMore App
  • Definitely!!! Omg... Huge omission.
  • Personally I'd like more iOS features going into OSX than the other way around Sent from the iMore App
  • I agree with everything here, especially travel time in calendar. I thought it would be built in to ios 7, as it doesn't make sense to have a calendar that looks different from different devices. On iPod touch, I would be happy also to get battery percentage, which it has never had. I think it's the only ios device without such a feature. Sent from the iMore App
  • AirDrop from iOS devices to the Mac and vice versa. I think this is coming because Deskconnect exists and shows that people want to do it. I can sync my device via Wifi why must I connect to transfer photos/videos? I also want the UpNext feature that is currently in iTunes. Sometimes I'm listening to music and I want to hear a particular song. Playlists are humungous these days but most people know the songs they feel like listening to. I agree with local Siri I think it would remove some of the frustration for some and also lead to more use. When all the information is on the phone it's kind of stupid not to be able to do something because you're not connected to the internet. It also has the added benefit of cutting down requests to the servers which should increase reliability. I think Siri itself needs some work. If a person is listening to music or a podcast. You activate Siri and ask for another song for example. Now anyone would expect that after the song plays whatever was playing before would resume. Instead nothing happens, Siri should be smart enough to freeze the process and then resume it afterwards. Finally I want icons that can be placed anywhere on the home screen grid. I don't want to stray from the grid but just the ability to put my icons in a square pattern if I want. Sent from the iMore App
  • I added a section on that. Currently AirDrop on OS X and AirDrop on iOS are two totally different things that, confusingly, share the same name.
  • never understood that. I thought it was going to work in iOS 7 and Mavericks but maybe there wasn't enough time. Sent from the iMore App
  • How the hell can you still not reply to text messages without opening an app? I mean biteSMS had been around since iOS 3 or something. Just hire them to do it like you hired the guy to do notifications.
  • My biggest thing so far is right along side one of Rene's biggest... Actionable notifications in iOS. This is the only feature I still jailbreak for. I love that it's on mavericks but I'm on my iphone and ipad more than my Mac. Sent from the iMore App
  • I agree with two and three. If like to see the battery conservation in mavericks come to iOS. I definitely like replying in notifications. I have a feeling that will be a big feature in the next version. Sent from the iMore App
  • I'd like to extend this to which app is adding to my data usage by sending back to their analytics service
  • I like the idea of one message app to control them all. One main reason is because Apple's message app uses next to nothing battery wise and only one other messaging app, BBM, seems too have pulled that off too. The rest are battery drainers. If Apple designed a app that let you sign into different services, I'm sure they would make it very battery efficient! And, if you haven't guessed already, your first idea is also a favourite of mine! To be honest, I think we just need to see a larger battery next year!
  • Two items on Rene's list are my top two requests:
    2. Enhanced (local) dictation (+Siri)
    3. Interactive (actionable) notifications I would like, but do not expect, to see, in order of decreasing likelihood: 1) Developer access to notification center (e.g. so a third party weather app could go there)
    2) Developer access to Siri
    3) Ability to set default applications (or, even less likely, an Android style intent system)
  • I believe they've been playing around with a Siri API, but this post from Guy explains the challenges:
  • I would also say, multi-flags for Mail. I mean, come on, it's an easy fix.
  • I'd like to see natural language input from Calendar (a feature that pre-dates Mavericks) make it's way to mobile. Obviously iOS has been able to do natural language with voice since Siri's introduction, so why not allow it via text input? I use and love Fantastical, which implements this both elegantly and smart. Still, should be a native feature I think. Sent from the iMore App
  • There are lots of calendar apps out there that do have natural language input, Calendar should be the best of them. Add the reminders In the today page and it's the best calendar app. Sent from the iMore App
  • Seriously, to call something AirDrop on both platforms and not be compatible with each other is embarrassing. Thank goodness for DeskConnect in the meantime. iOS devices have Lightning cables, Macs have Thunderbolt cables. At least we know they're not interchangeable. Something like that shows insight. Sent from the iMore App
  • There's not enough face to palm over that decision.
  • How 'bout something I'd like to see for OS X that our iOS devices can already do? I'd like to see the Message Application to be able to send SMS messages, not just iMessages.
  • Not really iOS related, but you'd think all iOS devices by now would be utilizing USB 3.0 for faster syncs and data transfers... Sent from the iMore App
  • The storage on iOS saturates well before USB 3.0 speed. Advantage would be minimal, sadly.
  • Pretty much any $19 USB flash drive reads and writes faster than USB 2.0 speed these days. If Apple is using anything other than bargain basement flash there should be a significant reduction in file transfer times by moving to USB 3.0.
    There are two counterpoints: 1. By keeping USB 2.0 Apple is managing expectations for those who would plug a USB 3.0 device into a USB 2.0 port and wonder why it wasn't any faster. Yes