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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

True multitasking

Another hurdle to productivity on the iPad is that it's a hassle to work in two applications at once. Sure, you can switch back and forth between, say, a writing app and Safari, but you can't see both at the same time. (Not to mention that, as we mentioned in our Safari wish list, when you switch away from Safari and then back again, Safari will likely reload any webpage you were viewing.) One of the most-frequent requests we hear from readers is for "real" multitasking on the iPad.

We've seen innumerable mockups of a side-by-side interface, where two apps are visible simultaneously. For some types of apps, this could work, though each app's screen would of course be half its normal size. But there are considerable OS- and app-design challenges here, so we're not sure it's the kind of approach Apple will take. Still, some kind of improved multitasking feels like the 2014 version of copy and paste: a feature that's unquestionably needed and long overdue.

And though we're focusing on the iPad here, more than a few people would love to see the iPad's four-finger app-switching gestures — which let you switch between apps with four-finger left/right swipes, and access the multitasking screen by swiping up with four fingers — come to the iPhone and iPod touch. Those gestures would be cramped on the smaller screen (though, ahem, there are plenty of rumors of larger iPhones on the way), but they should be manageable, and we'd prefer them to having to double-press the Home button many, many times each day.

Another multitasking-related we'd appreciate would be the capability to see how much power (i.e., battery life) each app is using, much like you can using the Energy Impact statistic in Mavericks's Activity Monitor utility. iOS could automatically notify you about power-hungry apps, or it could simply include this data in the Usage screen in the General section of the Settings app. In either case, it would be great to know exactly which processes are impacting your battery life the most.

Speaking of multitasking, as attractive as iOS 7's multitasking switcher is, the app-card interface isn't very useful when it hosts a dozen or more apps. In this respect, Android's process screen, which puts all "running" apps in a list, with each entry showing a small preview of the app, is oftentimes a lot more useful. We'd like to see a similar list, even if it's an alternative to the multitasking screen and it's buried in the Settings app. Maybe this list could even be integrated with the aforementioned energy-use view.

One more here: Though "killing" apps (force-quitting them using iOS's multitasking switcher) is hardly ever necessary, it can be useful when troubleshooting. Unfortunately, if you use a lot of apps, quitting them all is a major pain. As a troubleshooting tool, we'd like to be able to quickly quit all apps. This is another option that doesn't need to be easily accessible — it could be hidden at the bottom of the app/energy-use list in Settings.

 

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