2 Features I Hope Apple Provides in iOS 8

Apple really overhauled iOS when it released version 7 last year with better multitasking, improved background processing, scheduled connectivity, optimized memory use, and a cleaner, lighter looking interface. What can we expect from iOS 8?

There are two areas where the competition has a leg up on Apple, two features that make a lot of sense and would be great to have on our iPhones and iPads.

1. Multiple User Support

It’s great that you can let even a 3- or 4-year-old play games on your iPad or iPhone, but with that comes the risk of them moving around apps, creating new folders by dragging one app icon or another, or even deleting them. Macs have had multiple user support since Mac OS 9, and with OS X 10.3 Panther we got the ability to have more than one user logged in at the same time with Fast User Switching.

Seven generations in, iOS has no multiple user support. It’s something we really should have. Hand your iPhone to someone to make a call, and they have full access to everything on your phone. There should by default be a “phone only” setting that you can easily enable and only disable by using a passcode for times like that.

Likewise, there should be user settings that you have more control over, such as child-friendly settings to block certain types of websites and restrict which apps can be used, prevent installing new apps, put restrictions on in-app purchases, and so on.

Something like Fast User Switching in OS X would be ideal, but even if it only allows one logged in user at a time, this is something we really need – and more on the family iPad than even on the iPhone.

2. Shared Screen Multitasking

You’ve undoubtedly seen the ads showing how productive users can be with two apps open concurrently on their Android tablets. This is also one advantage Microsoft pushes for its Surface tablets. It can be very nice to have two apps open side-by-side – or even two browser windows – but that’s not something iOS does at present.

There are hacks to bring this to jailbroken iPads and iPhones, but the big problem is that at present all iOS apps are written to use the entire display, so developers would have to modify their apps to run at half-screen – and possibly other settings as well.

Besides the obvious benefits of having two or more apps visible at the same time, I see another possibility. What if apps could also run in tile mode, perhaps four at the bottom of the iPhone screen (or side when it’s rotated). Maybe the weather tile would display the temperature and wind conditions, as well as alerts. Click on the tile and the app takes over the screen, reducing the currently running app to a tile.

Maybe one could display a digital or analog clock that’s much easier to read at a glance than the one at the top of the display. Perhaps one could tie into GPS and the accelerometer to display your present speed and heading – and open to your favorite mapping or navigation app when you click on it. Another might be for iTunes, letting you see a miniature album cover in tile mode and expanding to show the full app when you click it.

I use Waze almost every weekday in my commute, because there are often accidents and traffic problems on one of the two best routes home. Waze is social GPS, and there are dozens (perhaps hundreds) of users in this area. We can report traffic problems, accidents, vehicles on the side of the road, gas prices, and more, which makes it possible for Waze to calculate the best route home based on that data. Probably once a week it chooses something other than the route that is usually fastest thanks to reports from other Wazers.

When I’m driving, it would be nice to have a button to switch to Messages, because Waverly almost always sends a text after I’ve begun my commute home, and iOS doesn’t make it easy to switch from Waze to Messages and then back to Waze again while you’re driving. Perhaps another tile could be dedicated to calling a favorite radio station to report on traffic problems – or 911 in an emergency.

I’m sure this would be handled differently on the iPad, but the idea of having four apps a click away without leaving the current app has merit.

Apple Will Think Different

Whatever Apple does to address these two issues, whether in iOS 8 or some future version, rest assured that they will think outside the box and create a better way of doing things than you’ll see on Android or Windows 8. I look forward to those surprises. It’s part of what makes it a joy to be an Apple user.

What do you want to see in iOS 8?

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One thought on “2 Features I Hope Apple Provides in iOS 8

  1. 1. Multiple User Support – I’m not seeing it.

    Remember, Apple, Inc. is a for profit company. Why in the world would they want to allow multiple user support on such personal device as an iOS device, when they could instead sell multiples of them?

    iOS is UNIX under the hood; they could have made it multi-user from the beginning, but they didn’t.

    It’s to drive sales.

    Don’t believe it?

    Try downloading say, Apple’s “Remote” app for iOS 3.1.3 from the iTunes Store.

    You can’t.

    You want that app and the functionality it provides? Well…Apple’s answer is if you didn’t download and back it up to a computer many moons ago(that is is still running and you still have access to), your only option is to buy a new iOS device and download the latest version of Remote onto that.

    iOS devices are designed to be throw away devices, as far as Apple is concerned. They want them to be replaced as quickly as possible, and so – unlike an older computer that can have tons of older software still installed on it via whatever methods were available for installation – being able to load old software on an older model iOS Device via Apple’s iTunes Store isn’t an option for the end user.

    [I am not referring to jailbreaking here, simply because I’m sticking with the Apple Party Line of thinking.]

    So…if they want to make sure these things are getting replaced PDQ, you can bet a multi-user environment – which would eat into sales of iOS devices – is not gonna be in their top 10 of new features.

    2. Shared Screen Multitasking – maybe. This one is a potential drainer of the battery and Apple doesn’t want to generate more calls into AppleCare concerning dying batteries, and doesn’t want to be replacing them in warranty if they can avoid it.

    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    Two things I want to see in iOS 8 are related to iTunes.

    1. iOS 8 will be compatible with whatever version of iTunes will run in OS X 10.6.8, thus making an iOS device running iOS 8 compatible with all my older equipment running OS X 10.6.8.

    2. For my machines running Mavericks(and beyond)iOS 8 will allow for storage and syncing of contact and calendar information on the devices at the device level over USB or local Wi-Fi(or even Bluetooth), and NOT require that data to only be available on iCloud:

    https://support.apple.com/kb/PH12117

    From the above:

    “If you use OS X Mavericks v.10.9 or later, your contacts, calendars, and other info are updated on your computers and iOS devices via iCloud.”

    Yes, I know that there’s a beta seed that restores this feature:

    http://appleinsider.com/articles/14/03/20/apple-restores-usb-itunes-contacts-calendars-syncing-in-new-os-x-mavericks-1093-itunes-1116-betas

    However, that’s a Beta Seed; it’s not the live gold master of 10.9.3, and we don’t know if this feature will make the final cut.

    My data is just that – my data.

    I don’t want to pay an extra $19 for the current version of OS X Server to get back a feature to maintain personal control of my data that was available with the last iteration of the client version of the OS.

    I hope I see what I wanna see in iOS 8…