iOS 8 Wish-List: 12 features we’d love to see in iOS 8

BY Gautam Prabhu

Published 31 May 2014

iOS 8 banner WWDC 2014

Apple is widely expected to give us a sneak peak at iOS 8, the eagerly anticipated next generation mobile operating system for iPhone, iPad and iPod touch at its WorldWide Developer Conference Keynote on Monday, June 2nd.

Since iOS 7 featured an all-new design, we don’t expect Apple to make radical changes in iOS 8. We expect it to be an evolutionary upgrade from iOS 7.

Here’s a list of some of features we’d love to see in iOS 8. First up some of major features:

1. Interactive or Actionable Notifications

Currently the banner notifications, and the notifications in iOS Notification Center perform the role of informing us when there is a new notification that needs our attention. However, to respond to the notification, you have to tap on the Notification, which launches the relevant app. After you’ve responded to the Notification, you’ve to use the app switcher to go back to the app. It’s not very efficient and makes banner notifications less useful as you’ve to leave the app you’re currently using.

In a single-window based operating system like iOS, productivity can be improved significantly if these Notifications can be interactive or actionable, and don’t force you to leave the app you’re in.

For example: When you receive a message notification, you should be able to reply directly from the notification or opt to delete the message you’ve received without having to leave the app you’re currently using.

iOS 8 Actionable Notifications

Find out  how Apple could implement the interactive notifications feature in iOS 8.

2. Attach Anything

Apple has released six major versions of iOS since the launch of the iPhone, but unfortunately it is still not possible to add attachments to an email other than photos and videos.

Apple made it a little easier to add photos and videos in the Mail app in iOS 6, but seems like a workaround rather than a solution. We hope Apple makes it a lot easier to attach any type of file in the Mail app or any other third party Mail app in iOS 8. Find out how better file attachment can be incorporated in iOS 8.

3. Touch ID Improvements

Apple's Touch ID fingerprint sensor

One of our favorite features of iPhone 5s is the Touch ID fingerprint scanner. If you had a horrible experience with fingerprint scanners on laptops, it is almost “magical” how well Touch ID works. It isn’t perfect, but it works almost 100% of the time, and Apple continues to improve its performance and reliability. However, one of our biggest gripes with Touch ID on the iPhone 5s has been its limited utility. You can currently use it only to unlock your iPhone and purchase items from iTunes.

I hope that Apple extends Touch ID’s functionality in iOS 8 by including new APIs that would allow third-party app developers to add Touch ID support to their apps. One of the areas Touch ID could play a major role is mobile payments. Find out how Apple extend the functionality of Touch ID with third-party app integration and mobile payments.

4. Better Control Center

Control Center

Control Center is one of the widely used iOS 7 features. One of its most obvious limitations is the limited number of toggles and quick launch app shortcuts, and the lack of ability to customize it. We hope Apple addresses these limitations in iOS 8.

Currently, Control Center gives you quick access to 5 system toggles such as AirPlane mode, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, Do Not Disturb and Orientation Lock. It also gives you quick access to turn on the LED flash, which turns your iPhone into a flashlight. It is great to be able to access these features from anywhere in iOS without leaving the app you’re currently using. It also has 3 more quick launch shortcuts for the Stop Watch, Calculator and Camera apps.

Apple can make it a lot more useful and user-friendly by giving us the ability to customize and extend its functionality. For example: If you use Personal Hotspot and VPN quite often, then you should be able to access toggles for Personal Hotspot and VPN from Control Center. The same applies for quick launch app shortcuts. If you hardly use the Calculator, it would be nice to be able to launch some of the frequently used apps such as Safari, Tweetbot, Reeder from the Control Center instead.

Find out how Apple could make Control Center a lot better in iOS 8.

5. Siri Improvements

Siri logo

When Apple introduced Siri, its personal voice assistant feature with the iPhone 4S, we were extremely excited about it. Unfortunately, it quickly became evident that it still needed a lot of work. To be fair to Apple, it did launch it as beta, and has been making steady progress in improving its reliability and speed.

However, the progress has been much slower than we expected, and we’re hoping that Apple will address some of its shortcomings in iOS 8. Apple could enhance Siri by adding features such as displaying speech to text translation in real-time so you can immediately find out Siri has interpreted your question properly, Google-now like always listening mode so you can ask questions or give commands to Siri without physical interaction, ask questions via text input and include APIs so Siri can be integrated with third-party apps.

Find out how Apple can address some of the shortcomings of Siri in iOS 8.

6. Improved Notification Center

iOS 7 Notification Center

Apple introduced Notification Center in iOS 5 to give users a quick way to check all notifications and alerts in a single place without leaving the app they’re in. Prior to that, the notification system was modal and disruptive, and it was difficult to keep track of them. Since then Apple has been making improvements to the Notification System and Notification Center with every major release.

Apple could make Notification Center a lot better in iOS 8 by making it easier and more user friendly to clear notifications be it individual notifications or all the notifications, maybe unify the Missed and All sections, ordering the apps in the settings in an alphabetic order, and adding more features to the Today tab.

Find out the six ways in which Apple could make Notification Center a lot better in iOS 8.

7. File Manager for iOS:

We need a better way to manage the files on our iOS device. We essentially need something like the Camera roll for files, so that we can access files that we have received via email or files that we’ve downloaded (it is not available yet, but we’ll talk about it in a bit). The files in this shared storage should also be synced or available across our iOS devices via iCloud, so we can access them from all our devices. It could be a dedicated app or it could be something like Finder in OS X that can access the shared storage.

8. Improved Maps app

Apple’s brave move to replace Google maps with its own Maps app in iOS 6 backfired miserably and forced the company to issue an apology to its customers. However, Apple hasn’t rolled out any major improvements for its Maps app. In the meantime, Google has taken the lead by launching its own Maps app for the iPhone. So Apple needs to make some major improvements to the Maps app if it wants users to use it as the default app.

Here are some of the improvements and new features we would like to see in the Maps app:

  • Improved point of interest database
  • Reliable turn-by-turn directions
  • Dynamic re-routing – If iOS identifies an incident in our route, it will give us an early warning with an option to select a faster route.
  • Street view-like feature
  • Offline maps – the Maps app needs an internet connection. Offline maps would allow you to use the Maps app in places such as a basement car park or in an area where there is poor or no network coverage.
  • In-door maps
  • Speed alerts – ability to enable voice alerts when you exceed the speed limits.

9. Inter-app communication

Although Apple pioneered the idea of an ecosystem of third-party apps back in 2008, years later inter-app communication is still crippled. Apple did add sharing to a few social networks and services, but it isn’t nearly as flexible as Android or Windows Phone’s sharing system. The ideal mechanism would be to let apps register themselves for certain kinds of data like photos, links, text etc., and then be able to receive this data from any app that creates such data. So any in-app browser would let you save links to Pocket, any editor would let you save text to Evernote and so on. All that exists right now are URL schemes which are hacks at best, and not at all user or developer friendly.

10. Split-Screen Multitasking

We really hope Apple adds some pro features for the iPad that makes use of the larger screen, such as the ability to run two runs simultaneously on the iPad like this concept. The good news is that leaks indicate that Apple will be adding support for split-screen multitasking in iOS 8, but the feature may be not ready to debut it at the WWDC Keynote.

11. Third-party keyboards

While the iOS virtual keyboard has been one of the revolutionary features of the iPhone when it was launched, Apple hasn’t added any new features other than split keyboard feature for the iPad in iOS 5. We’re so used to it that it doesn’t make sense for Apple to revamp it as the learning curve would be too high.

One way to address this issue could be the option to install third-party keyboards like Swype.

12. Increase Free iCloud Storage

Apple current offers 5GB of iCloud storage for free. Apple needs to increase the amount of iCloud storage space it gives for free. It is quite ridiculous that Apple offers 128GB iOS devices, but offers only 5GB of free iCloud storage. The free iCloud storage should be based on the device storage. So if a user buys a 16GB iPhone, Apple should at least give 10GB of iCloud storage for free (or 16GB of free iCloud storage to keep it simple), and give the user an option to buy more if he needs to for a fee as it does currently. This may not classify as a new feature, but Apple could increase free iCloud storage with the release of iOS 8. This will significantly improvement the stickiness of Apple’s iOS ecosystem.

It is also strange that despite having devices with 128GB storage, the maximum iCloud storage you can buy is 50GB for $100, which isn’t sufficient to backup the device. Apple needs to offer larger storage plans for iCloud.

In addition to these major features, we would also love to see the follow features and improvements in iOS 8

  • Change Default Apps: While it seems unlikely, it would be nice to be able to change the default app. For example: We should be able to make Tweetbot – the default Twitter client, or Chrome as the default web browser.
  • AirDrop: In iOS 7, Apple addressed a big frustration of iOS, and let users share items like photos, videos and links wirelessly with ease, but a big frustration factor still remained — you couldn’t AirDrop files from iPhone to your Mac, or vice versa. We hope that Apple addresses this with iOS 8, and makes the required under-the-hood technical changes to make AirDrop across all platforms compatible with each other.
  • One of great OS X Mavericks features is its ability to tell you which apps are consuming the most energy. This helps you in troubleshooting excessive battery drain, help save battery in times of need, and delete unwanted applications that unnecessarily eat up your battery. Battery life is still not perfect on the iPhone, especially with the recent addition of iOS 7 Background App Refresh, so a similar option on iOS would be very useful.
  • More Gestures Some may argue that it was the simplicity of iOS that has made iPhone and the iPad so successful, and adding gestures will kill what made these devices successful in the first place. However, gestures designed to increase productivity can greatly improve the user experience of an operating system. The gestures should be designed in such a manner that they help in improving productivity of those who are willing to learn them such as the four-five finger multitouch gestures available on the iPad, but at the same time they do not increase the learning curve for a regular user. Apple added quite a few new gestures in iOS 7, and we hope that it adds more. Some of the gestures we would like to see in iOS 8 are ability to swipe from right to left to dismiss a notification, swipe gestures in the Mail app to jump to the next or previous email, gesture to switch between apps on the iPhone.
  • Predictive text while using iPhone’s virtual keyboard is very helpful but we need the ability to add words to the iPhone dictionary so that we can teach the iPhone to swear and stop it from trying to auto correct them.
  • If Apple does end up adding features like a file manager and shared storage, we should be able to download files from the internet just like the desktop using mobile Safari, and not have to use our computer to send files to our iOS devices.
  • This is an extension of the File Manager and the attach anything feature. Just like local data, Apple in no way allows iCloud apps to share data amongst themselves in any way. So if you create a note in iAWriter and choose to save it to iCloud, you can’t edit the same note in TextEdit on my Mac, whereas if you save it using Dropbox, you can open it in whatever application we want. Apple needs to allow other apps to access files in the iCloud, and not restrict the data or files just to the app that created it.
  • A number of iOS features such as turn-by-turn navigation, 3D flyover, number of Siri features such as local search, restaurant information, reviews and reservations, movie information, reviews and showtimes are available only in a few countries. We hope Apple rolls out these features in many more countries.
  • Currently, there’s no Apple sanctioned way to export all the data that you have in iCloud. Google has Google Takeout, Facebook and Twitter have their own ways to request an archive of your data, but there’s no similar option for iCloud.

Well, that’s what we’re looking for in iOS 8. What about you? What would you like to see in iOS 8.