An iOS Wish List

September 11th, 2012 § 3 comments

On the eve of Apple’s announcement of the next iPhone I find myself less curious about the new hardware than ever before. Partly this is due to an, at least by Apple standards, unprecedented number of hardware leaks that has all but spelled out exactly what the phone will look like1. This does not mean, however, that I’m am not look forward to the event as I am eagerly anticipating their software announcements. Even though they announced the majority of the iOS feature set back at WWDC I except them to have kept a few things in their back pocket. This happened last year with the announcement of Siri and while I don’t expect anything as big this year I’m still look forward to some new toys.


Better performance and access to third party apps are obvious items for anyone’s Siri wish list but I’m going to focus on things I want improved within the existing limits. Performance, after all, is a constant battle and opening up access to third party apps is a more complicated than we’d like to believe. Here are some things I would like to say to tell Siri.

  • Remind me to buy diapers 20 minutes after I get to work.2
  • Tell me when my wife leaves her current location.3
  • Add Alfred to Find My Friends.4
  • Remind me to fill out the TPS report when I get to work on friday.5
  • Turn on Bluetooth/WiFi.6

Notification Center

Notification Center is, in my mind, a great place to have fiddly little things that nerds like me love. Every time I have to cycle my WiFi or Bluetooth I am reminded that for certain tasks life is much better in the Android world. It seems to me that the Notification Center is the perfect place to add some quick settings. Anything that can be found in the Settings app can be pinned to the Notification Center for quick access. I’m envisioning little toggles, right on top. I’m sure people that use lots of accessibility settings would be over joyed at the prospect.

I would also like to see the widgets opened up to third party apps. It would be a great place to check sports scores or local traffic conditions.

Find My Friends

Why oh why is it so hard to add a friend on Find My Friends? Unless they are already adept at using the app I almost always have to physically take the phone from them and set it up. Why do I have to know the person’s AppleID? Most people I’ve added to the app gave me a blank stare when I asked them. Why can’t I just send them an iMessage or email that has a custom FMF URL?

I’d also like a way to setup location change alerts. I often find myself checking the app neurotically to see if someone has left their current location yet7. I know my wife does this regularly to find out if I have left work yet so she can start dinner. It would be great if she could simply setup an alert that told her every time I left work. Ideally it would be fiddly enough to only send a reminder after 5pm but that’s probably asking for too much.

Default Apps

This is by far my biggest pie in the sky hope that will probably never come to pass. I want to be able to change my default apps. I’ve come to the conclusion that while Apple makes fantastic eco systems I don’t much care for some of their apps. While they are typically elegant and easy to use8 I sometimes find them to be more like “proof of concept”. They begrudgingly add features like threaded emails and sometimes do so in an inelegant or even insulting manner. I picture a cranky old man sitting at a desk saying “fine, you want this dumb feature *scribble* *scribble* *scribble*, there is your damn feature!” The App store has proven that Apple is far from the only source of innovation out there and I’d like them to get out of the way.

To do this they need to allow users to replace the system apps with third party apps much like we can do on desktop operating systems. This would mean that when I say “Siri, remind me to bake a cake” it could set that up in Due. It would mean that the next Sparrow could have push notifications and that Agenda would be able to sync without having to be launched regularly. The most dramatic change would be the browser since “Open in Safari” can be found in so many apps. To me Chrome is useless because it can’t actually replace Safari.

If implemented right it could even result in a more secure ecosystem for users. I’m envisioning a system where you would still setup your email in the Settings app and the mail client you installed wouldn’t even have access to them. It would simply hit the API and ask it to download the emails. Obviously we would be able to replace all Apps but here is my list in order of preference.

  1. It appears that Apple’s success has been it’s own downfall in their attempt to “double down on secrecy”. I’m assuming that they are producing iPhone 5’s at an unprecedented rate and each new layer in the supply chain is a potential information sieve. []
  2. There are other apps that let you do this but since they don’t have Siri integration they aren’t as easy to add new items []
  3. I’m thinking this would require an upgrade to Find My Friends and there are privacy issues with that so it would require a password to finalize. []
  4. The current method for adding friends to the app is even more miserable than trying to manually setup a location based reminder in Reminders. []
  5. Currently you can not have a location based reminder that also has a date requirement. []
  6. It’s sad that this would be easier than the current 62 taps it takes []
  7. Not in a creepy way, I swear. For reals. []
  8. Notable exceptions being Find My Friends & Reminders []

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§ 3 Responses to An iOS Wish List"

  • Laurence Orr says:

    WHY DOES SIRI HAVE TO CONTACT THE INTERNET TO PLAY A SONG THAT IS ON THE PHONE ALREADY?!!? Removing that would speed that bitch up a lot.

    • Thomas Paine says:

      I think it’s going to be a while before they can move voice processing to the phone. Figuring out that you want Siri to play music is complicated enough; actually figuring out which artist, song or album is even more so. These types of tasks are handled by a server farm far more easily than the little A5 processor in your phone.

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