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iOS 8 changes we'd like to see: The OS and Home screen

Dan Frakes | June 2, 2014
WWDC is almost here, which means we're likely to see a preview of iOS 8, the next iteration of Apple's mobile OS. Over the past few weeks, we've been publishing lists--with a little help from our Twitter followers--of the features and changes we'd like to see in iOS 8, covering Notification Center, Mail, Calendar and Reminders, Photos and Camera, [<a

(All of the above could also be said about the iPhone or iPod touch, but in our experience, people are much more likely to have one of these devices to themselves, rather than to share it with several family members. Still, if Apple could add such a feature for all iOS devices, we wouldn't complain.)

Active icons

Another popular feature request is for widgets and live-updated icons on the home screen, in part because widgets appear to be popular on Android. I say appear because in my experience, non-geeks don't seem to care as much about them as techies do. Indeed, when I first started using Android, I added quite a few widgets, both stock and third-party. It was neat to be able to put a big weather widget, an ESPN scoreboard, and my calendar and inbox on my home screens. But over time, I shrank or deleted my widgets, one by one, until I was using only a couple regularly — and they were relegated to secondary screens so they didn't get in the way of my most-used apps.

In other words, if Apple does add similar features, we hope they're a bit more elegant than Android's anything-goes approach to widgets. Live-updated icons that can show the latest weather or alarm status, or the score of a particular game, for example, would be useful. But huge displays that can take up an entire Home screen? We'll pass.

Improved app management

As the number of apps in the App Store has increased — and increased, and increased, and increased — the tools for managing those apps hasn't kept up. For the average user, this isn't a huge problem, but those of us with hundreds, or even thousands, of apps are continually frustrated by the limited app-management features of iOS: Some of us who rarely used Spotlight for the first few years it was available have found ourselves using it regularly as a way to find apps. Arranging apps into folders is tedious. And trying to arrange and sync apps using iTunes has become a hair-pulling experience. There's got to be a better way. We're not sure what it is, but it must exist.

Related to this, each of us has stock apps we simply don't use, either because we don't need the apps' features or because we prefer third-party alternatives. For me, the list of apps that just take up space in my "Unused" folder includes Calculator, Notes, Calendar, Compass, Stocks, and Reminders. Quite a few Macworld readers have asked us if there's a way to delete these apps from the device, or at least hide them. The answer, for now, is "No." We'll see what iOS 8 brings.

 

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