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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

As for organizing apps, one of our least-favorite Home screen changes in iOS 7 is that while folders can now hold as many apps as you want (by using multiple "screens" per folder), the number of apps visible at one time was reduced from 20 (on the iPad) or 16 (on recent iPhone and iPod touch models) to just nine, regardless of device or screen size. As we wrote back when iOS 7 debuted, "the nine-apps-at-a-time limit — which appears to have been implemented solely for aesthetic reasons, so folders can zoom out and in gracefully — feels like it's wasting a lot of useful space. Worse, it forces you to perform more taps and swipes to access a given app."

Inter-app communication

iOS apps have become more and more capable, yet one of the biggest hurdles to productivity, and the source of a lot of daily hassle, is the fact that iOS apps still can't communicate with one another, can't use each other's capabilities, and can't share data.

Sure, we've got URL schemes that let third-party developers implement some degree of inter-app communication, but these are — and I mean this in the best sense of the word — hacks. We'd love to see Apple provide an official API that would allow apps to work together on the same data, and to make their features and capabilities available to other apps, without hacks and unsupported tricks. Imagine if every browser, and every app that requires a password, for that matter, could integrate with 1Password; or if any app could easily add TextExpander support; or if you could edit the same photo with three different photo apps in sequence, each adding its own unique tweaks.

Shared storage

Of course, if apps are to better communicate with each other, and to be able to work on common files, iOS will need to gain some sort of accessible file storage that allows multiple apps to work with the same data. Currently, if you've got a document in a third-party word processor and you want to open it in Pages, your only option is to use iOS's Open With command to open a copy of the document in Pages. But it's just that: a copy. None of the changes you make in Pages will be reflected in the copy you've got open in your other word processor, and vice versa. As we mentioned in our Mail wish list, we don't expect Apple to embrace a fully exposed, desktop-style filesystem on iOS, but it needs a way for multiple apps to work on the same document and to facilitate sharing of data between apps.

 

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