With the release of iOS
4.3 (and a minor 4.3.1 update) now behind us and WWDC 2011 looming for a June 6 kick-off, all eyes are now on Apple’s
next major revamp of its mobile operating system, iOS 5.
Although there’s speculation far and wide that a
new iPhone will be missing in action from Apple’s Worldwide Developer Conference in San Francisco when it kicks off
on June 6, the company is promising to unveil “the future of iOS and Mac OS,” which no doubt includes a peek at
iOS 5. Despite rumors that the next major iOS update won’t come until later this year, here’s a peek at what we
can likely expect when it finally lands on our iPhones, iPod touches and iPads.
Let’s get this out of the way up front: The iOS notifications system stinks. It’s also obtrusive, bringing
your favorite movie, TV show or game to a screeching halt, most always at an inopportune moment. Worse yet, iOS only shows
the most recent notification from a particular app, meaning you’re likely to miss important ones anyway. If you have
several apps clamoring for your attention at once (which happens often), the next time you want to unlock your device and
quickly get to an app, you’ll first have to dismiss a whole slew of notifications. It’s painful! Google’s
Android has the right idea, and HP’s webOS does it the best so far, but we’re sure that iOS 5 will finally bring
a notifications system to die for.
Voice Commands, Everywhere
How often do you use the Voice
Control feature Apple introduced with iOS 3? (Cue the crickets.) Yeah, we thought so. Most of us forget it even exists until
we accidentally hold down the home button a beat longer than normal, and then up it comes. System-wide voice commands is something
else that Google’s Android has gotten more right than wrong, and it’s high time that Apple steps up to bat and
knocks one out of the park on this front. You may recall that Cupertino plunked down some cash to buy Siri, the voice-activated
“virtual personal assistant” software which is still hanging around the App Store.
Check it out, and imagine that kind of technology spread all over iOS -- as well as third-party apps.
Rumors of a revamped (and possibly free) MobileMe service have been swirling in the rumor mill for the better part
of the last year. Sure, we got a free version of Find My iPhone and the retail boxed copies of MobileMe have all been eradicated
at last, but we have yet to hear that big data center in North Carolina get fired up to start serving cloud-based storage
to the masses. The latest rumors claim that could happen in April, but it will still take a fairly major iOS update to incorporate
all of the potential changes, such as a “music locker” to house your iTunes library. Meanwhile, Amazon just launched
their own Amazon Cloud Player, so… your move, Apple.
Don’t get us wrong -- we’re
happy to have app switching and background apps with iOS 4, but every time we look at a webOS device flipping between apps
on “cards,” we die just a little inside. Apple managed to introduce a form of multitasking to iOS that doesn’t
dramatically impact battery life (unless you’re running Skype… ahem), but now we think they can go all Where
No Operating System Has Gone Before™ by making a truly multitasking operating system, complete with that fancy four
or five-finger swipe to switch between apps on the iPad like we’ve seen from developer builds.
I’ve Got a Gesture for You
Likewise, we like the direction Apple appears to be heading with multitouch gestures, and all we can say is, “More
please!” There are rumors aplenty that a future iPhone may remove the home button entirely and replace it with gestures.
After we recently lost our original 2007 iPhone to a broken home button -- effectively rendering it useless since we can no
longer get out of an app without shutting it off -- we’d say that more gestures will be welcome. Let’s face it:
All hardware breaks eventually, but multitouch gestures are forever.
this: Why is it that after four generations, we still can’t have IMAP push email on a non-Exchange account except for
MobileMe and Yahoo? Don’t tell anyone, but in a moment of weakness, we briefly owned a Palm Pre when it first launched,
and it was like a little slice of heaven to find that it honored the IMAP IDLE command just fine, meaning we were automagically
notified of incoming email without the need for a fine third-party iOS app such as PushMail. This isn’t exactly rocket science, folks.