(This is a guest post by Rohan Naravane. He works for Pricebaba and occasionally writes for NDTV Gadgets 360 and The Huffington Post. You can read his entire post below, along with a couple of my comments in brackets, such as this one. – PN)
In 2016, iOS will celebrate its 9th anniversary. Nine years ago, Apple changed the course of how we use mobile phones today, and the OS that powers iPhones, iPads & iPod touches has come a long way. I’ve been making iOS wish lists for a couple of years now, and as I write every word, it almost seems pointless. Apple will end up doing what it will see fit; it always has been known for that.
Or has it? There are side-by-side comparisons of every highlight feature of iOS 9 that were inspired from its competitors. Tim Cook’s Apple seems to be more accommodating than ever before. Think about it, if back in 2011, I would have told you that a few years later iPhones will have 3rd party keyboards, widgets, full multitasking, and picture-in-picture video, you’d be laughing real hard at me. Well, they’re here now. And that gives me a chance to dream, dream of how I secretly want iOS to have all the good things that Android has, while still maintaining its own goodness and finesse. So here is this year’s wish list that include those minor, nitpicky changes that hopefully will make many iOS users happy, while pissing off the purists.
Power Reserve Mode
Borrowing the term that came along with the Apple Watch, Power Reserve keeps only the most critical things on (just the time in case of the watch), when the battery is low. A Power Reserve mode on iOS would be analogous to the Ultra Power Saving mode found on Android phones from Samsung, Sony among many others. It basically turns a potent smartphone into a Nokia 1100.
iOS users sure have gotten a taste of an instant way to save precious battery life with the ‘Low Power’ mode that was introduced in iOS 9. After using the Ultra Power Saving Mode on my Galaxy S6, I can attest that it surely is a lifesaver when you’re unexpectedly going to be away from the charger, and are low on juice. Also, no sane person will shoot 4K videos when their battery is at 10 percent; as long as the iPhone makes calls and texts, you’re good to go. The ‘Power Reserve’ mode in iOS 10 would go in handy with all those OLED screen rumours in future iPhones. Just the same way the OLED display on the Apple Watch can show the time without lighting the whole screen for up to 72 hours.
3rd Party App Support for Siri
Cortana has done it, Google is kinda doing it and so is Apple. But Siri, the first ever real voice assistant on a smartphone, still can’t be harnessed by 3rd party apps four years later. So, you can tell her to “Play the best tracks from the ‘70s” on Apple Music but not on Saavn, you can say “Navigate to Churchgate Station in Mumbai” and it’ll open Apple Maps to tell you “Directions Not Available”, not open Google Maps.
Probably harder than it sounds, because developers need to carefully pre-program what people can ask Siri to do in their app. Also, you could say one thing in different ways, for e.g “Navigate to Churchgate Station in Mumbai using Google Maps” and “Take me to Churchgate station, Mumbai in Google Maps” mean the same thing, and hopefully Siri can understand that. No matter the complexity, now that Siri is also on your wrist, voice control shouldn’t be bound only to Apple’s homeschooled apps.
Preferred Wi-Fi Networks
This feature has been available on the Mac, like, forever, and it could really be useful on iOS, if you often deal with spotty Wi-Fi connections. To give you an example, there are three Wi-Fi networks that I can connect to in my office, but there are times when one stops functioning or slows down. On my Mac, I can change the priority of which Wi-Fi network connects first. So, every time I wake my Mac up from standby, I don’t have to spend those extra seconds manually choosing the better internet of the lot.
Dynamically Arranged Apps in Share Sheets
Third party share sheets were a godsend, as they dropped with iOS 8 two years back. Right now, iOS has a master list of apps that support sharing of content from other apps, the position of which you can manually sort. This position is persistent across any share sheet you may open in any app. But that’s kinda rigid as you may use a particular app to share stuff more than others, within another app. For example, when I open the Gallery app, Skitch is my most used app in the share sheet. But when I open I hit the Share Sheet in Chrome, “Push to Kindle” is my most used option. An ability to dynamically reorganise the share sheet as per my most used apps, within a particular app would be awesome.
(For what it’s worth, the share sheet on iOS can be manually ordered, and you can even disable unnecessary apps, something you can’t on Android. – PN)
Flexible Control Center
Control Center in iOS 7 was a nice comeback to Android’s long-available toggle widgets, simply because you can summon it from anywhere in just one swipe. It’s been two generations of iOS since, and Control Center hasn’t really received much love, except some design tweaks. There are many things Apple can do with Control Center to make it a little more flexible. It could let people pick more toggles like ‘Low Power Mode’ or ‘Mobile Data’ along with Wi-Fi, Bluetooth etc. It could also let people change the four app shortcuts at the bottom to whatever they like. It could at least let people long-press on say, the Wi-Fi Toggle to directly take them to Wi-Fi Settings. But you know what would be truly amazing? If it let people do all those things.
(I have a different problem with Control Center, where it pops up while I’m just scrolling and I have to struggle with it when I actually want to access it. It really has no business being at the bottom of the screen. Apple should have ripped-off the feature exactly it is on Android as the latter clearly has the better implementation. – PN)
This is again, yet another trump card feature that’s doable on Android thanks to apps like SpeakerPhone Ex, but not at all on iOS. So, it’s probably best if Apple implements it itself in iOS 10. This feature uses the phone’s proximity sensor to determine when the phone is placed to your ear, and when it isn’t, simply switches the speakerphone on. Put the phone back on your ear, and it’s back to the earpiece. I can’t speak enough about the convenience of this feature. Microsoft gets a brownie point here for an in-house app called Lumia Gestures that does this on Windows Phone. Also, considering every Apple iPhone on sale today has an always-on motion co-processor, there’s little difficulty Apple should find to do this right.
Better Support for Truecaller
Pretty sure seasoned iOS users cannot deny this convenience on Android that tells who’s calling at the time of the phone call with Truecaller. Using Truecaller since iOS 8 has become easier thanks to their widget, that instantly shows up the name when you copy a number. But you still have to ignore picking up a random incoming call to know who it was. And sure, Android’s implementation may not be very elegant with Truecaller’s box overlaying the call screen. But knowing how Apple itself implemented it with iOS 9, I’d really love to see how it can make this happen for Truecaller.
I think I’ll stop now before the iOS purists tell me to go fuck myself and continue using an Android phone. But, some of these do make sense, don’t they? Agree/disagree/argue with me on Twitter @r0han.