iPad wishes

[2010-09-12] apple, ios, idea, computers, ipad
(Ad, please don’t block)

After having used the iPad for a while now, I can now give a more definitive wish list. This post rehashes some of my earlier iPad post; read that post for a wider context.
Coming in iOS 4.2 (among other things):

  • Multitasking: Thank god for this one. Even though Apple’s version of multitasking is limited, it does practically everything that is needed while saving battery power. A biggie will be the ability to directly switch between applications, program-switcher style. No more detour to the home screen. Also having any app play music in the background is great. I hope they also make alarm clock apps work. Right now, alarm clock apps must be active to go off and if they wake up from sleep, they cannot turn on the display, you have to do that manually.
  • Unified inbox: Using to email accounts in parallel is currently painful. One has to constantly navigate up and down the tree of mailbox folders to access the different inboxes.
  • App folders: Giving names to groups of applications should help with finding them quicker.
  • Printing: Never missed this, but I’m sure many people do.
Open issues:
  • Unobtrusive notifications: In Android, the phone status bar contains a summary of important past and ongoing events (call missed, new email received, etc.). More information is also always accessible. This includes things such as the song currently being played and the phone being connected via USB. This is the one missing piece for completing the illusion of multitasking. If I compare the iPad with my desktop experience, I don’t mind that I can only access one application at a time (quickly switching them without losing state is another thing, see above). I do mind that I don’t see if I’ve received new email. Apple has hired the webOS notifications architect, so it seems that they are aware of the issue. The iOS 4 switcher that comes up after a home button double-click could be easily extended to provide more notification functionality. It is already used for printing and to control sound tasks that run in the background.
  • Keeping web pages in memory: Currently Safari usually completely reloads a pages that are in the background and become active again. This is terrible, because it takes a long time. Couldn’t one use the flash storage to cache that data?
  • Universal file system: File management is already possible, but only per application. This leads to a game called “where is my PDF”? In my Dop Box? In iBooks? In GoodReader? Ideally, such a file system could be mounted on the desktop and directly accessed. I would also love to have tags, possibly even instead of folders. To make the difference clear: A file can be in at most one folder, but could have zero or more tags.
  • Cursor navigation: I still find the magnifying glass to slow. Roughly positioning the cursor with a tap and then using arrow keys for precise positioning would be great.
  • More key on keyboard and/or a function key: Having to switch keyboard layouts just to be able to type numbers sucks.
  • Hitting links in web pages: Links are often too small and zooming just to go to a link is time consuming. Android allows one to traverse links with a physical key. It might make sense for Safari to introduce a virtual key for this.
More ideas:
  • More screen space for the app switcher:
    • Could be used to show on/off switches for airport mode, Wi-Fi, etc.
  • Use two apps side by side: The one-app-at-a-time approach of the iPad works in most cases, except when you have to, say, transcribe something from a web page in a text editor. Nothing more than a 50/50 split of the screen between two applications would be ever needed.