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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

Keyboard customization

Among the myriad iOS 8 wishes we've received via Twitter and email, a huge number have focused on keyboards. Perhaps the most common complaint concerns iOS 7's Shift/Caps Lock key: When people feel the need to write articles about how to figure out if the Shift/Caps Lock key is on or off, there's a problem. We didn't have any issues with the iOS 6 Shift key, so we'd be happy reverting to that. Alternatively, one of our readers had an seemingly obvious idea: Display lower-case letters on the onscreen keyboard when the Shift or Caps Lock key is off, and uppercase when either is on. Whatever the solution, the current Shift/Caps Lock appearance needs to go.

Another popular response was a desire for Apple to allow users to replace the stock keyboard with a third-party version. Developers can currently opt to integrate alternate keyboards such as Fleksy into their apps, but there's currently no way to choose, say, SwiftKey as your systemwide keyboard. As good as the iOS keyboard is — and it's actually pretty good in many ways — third-party keyboards such as SwiftKey and Fleksy offer features such as text prediction that make it easier to type quickly and more accurately.

As for Apple's own keyboard, in addition to fixing the Shift/Caps Lock key, we'd also like to see some sort of cursor control when working with text. The simplest approach would be to simply add directional-arrow keys to the keyboard, but third-party apps have shown us that there are even better ways. For example, a number of iOS text-editing apps let you quickly move the cursor by swiping with one or two fingers over the onscreen keyboard — one finger could be to position the cursor, with two for selecting text.

We also heard from many people — and we wholeheartedly agree with each and every one of them — who ache for more keyboard shortcuts when using a Bluetooth keyboard. For several years now, we've been able to use basic shortcuts such as Command+C for copy and Command+V for paste. And iOS 7, Apple added a good number of external-keyboard shortcuts for Safari, Mail, Pages, and Numbers. But we'd like to see more.

For example, the most obvious shortcut (at least among Mac users) would be Command+Tab to quickly switch between apps, even if that shortcut simply brought up iOS's multitasking screen and let you cycle between active apps. But we'd also like to see more keyboard shortcuts across the OS. For example, why can you send an email message in Mail by pressing Shift+Command+D (just as you can in OS X Mail), but there's no way to send a message in Messages other than tapping the Send button on the screen? And though many Bluetooth keyboards let you bring up Spotlight and type a search query, you can't navigate the list of results and quickly open one from the keyboard.

 

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