Is iOS 5 starting to feel a bit stale? Apple’s latest mobile operating system is now nearly a year old, which means it’s nearly time to make the jump to the next iteration, just as Android settles into the slump between Ice Cream Sandwich and Android 5.0. Good news for Apple fans then: an event invite may have just revealed the launch date of iOS 6. What should it have baked in? Read our suggestions after the break…
An announcement has just dropped into our inboxes: Apple’s Worldwide Developer Conference (WWDC) 2012 will take place between June 11th and June 15th. The event, which last year marked the launch of iOS 5, is an invitation for developers to “explore the latest innovations, features and capabilities of iOS.” Now, to us, that spells iOS 6.
In the spirit of getting excited, we’ve drummed up a list of improvements that we think iOS 6 should include. Are you paying attention, Apple?
1. Quicker WiFi access
If you’ve had any dealings with Android, you’ll know that it’s far easier to switch the WiFi on and off on Google’s mobile platform than it is on iOS. It’s a real bugbear. What’s most annoying is it seems to be a relatively quick fix. Apple could either dunk your WiFi (and hell – while we’re at it – Bluetooth and Airplane setings) into the drop-down Notification Centre, or neatly place it under the Splotlight search to the left of the iOS homescreen. Bosh.
2. Split-screen multitasking
This might not be of much use on the diddly iPhone screen, but the iPad’s crying out for some way to multi-task that’s akin to Windows 7’s ‘snapped’ windows. Why? Because it’s all well and good having the ability to watch the football through the Sky Go app, but if you’re doing that you’re kind of locked in.
We’d like to see a sort of ‘top-and-bottom screen’ approach, where you can have your Netflix movie or Sky Sports running on top, and have Safari or Facebook running underneath. Makes sense, and we doubt it’d muddle up the otherwise simple OS too much.
3. Siri for iPad
Where is she? Ok, Ok; we can kind of see Apple’s reasoning on this. The usage model for Siri on a tablet computer is a lot more complex and in depth than on a phone, which is probably why Apple’s still-in-beta voice assistant isn’t yet on the iPad, but you’d hope it’ll arrive soon.
If that happens, you can bet that Apple will open up the Siri API to every developer going, letting you basically run the whole operating system by having a conversation with it. As it stands, there’s a way to go before Siri can make the jump from phone to computer assistant, but you can bet your bottom dollar that Apple’s working on it.
4. Free turn-by-turn navigation
Apple’s probably been happy for the past few years to take its 30 percent slice off of app sales from the likes of TomTom and Navigon, but with Android and Windows Phone now offering so much in the way of navigation for absolutely nothing, it feels like something’s coming.
When Apple initially demoed the geotagging iPhoto for the iPad, it did so with a bespoke mapping solution – not with Google Maps. Apple’s bought a couple of mapping companies over the years, and the general theory is that its getting ready to untether itself from Google.
Since day one of iOS, Apple’s had to deal with an uneasy dependence on the big G for its mapping tech. While maps on iOS are called just that – ‘Maps’ – they are in fact handled by Google’s technology, which these days has the added benefit of Street View. If Apple wants to offer free turn-by-turn satnav guidance in iOS, it needs to kick Google out of its operating system for good, which means a fully-featured, easy to understand (as in, not jarring) set of global maps. Will that happen in iOS 6? It’s not unthinkable, but it’d be a shock.
5. Gesture-based controls FTW!
Have you used the gesture controls on the iPad? Squeeze your fingers together like a fist to close an app, four fingers left and right swiped between apps – as with the BlackBerry PlayBook – and four fingers slid upwards reveals the multitasking tray. It all feels a bit like a test at the moment, but it’s very elegant.
Apple’s investing a lot of its time in gesture-based navigation elsewhere. The trackpad antics now at your fingertips on OS X are incredibly well thought-out and bring a sort of symbiotic degree of control. If this were to be integrated across iOS as the main means of getting around, it’d completely remove the need for a ‘home’ button – something we know is a point of contention among many Apple users.
Is this a long shot? Yes and no. There’s no doubt in anyone’s mind that the iPhone 5 will boast NFC tech, and as such, Apple will want to get developers on board and thinking about uses early. That said, there’s nothing in any existing devices that could take advantage of NFC abilities baked into iOS 6.
Apple’s reliance on secrecy means it’s a bit of a long shot that it’ll reveal such a large chunk of information about future devices. But, if it goes against the grain and tees up future NFC-capable devices, it’d be a smart move to get developers building content between now and the supposed iPhone 5 launch in October.
Have you got any more genius iOS 6 suggestions? Let us know in the comments below…