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iOS 9 doesn't need revolutionary features to transform our screens

Michael Simon | June 5, 2015
For seven years, Apple has maintained a relentless cycle of major iOS updates. It's not hard to see the progression: what started as a simple system with 11 basic apps and an inability to install any others has blossomed into a powerful platform with millions of games and utilities and seemingly limitless capabilities. Some things might have taken a bit too long to arrive (I'm looking at you, copy and paste!), but no one can criticize the breakneck pace that Apple has sustained. Every 12 months or so, Apple has unleashed a whole new batch of features and enhancements that have given each iOS version an identity of its own, not unlike the jungle cats and California landmarks attached to OS X releases.

For starters, we need an actual iCloud Drive app. When it was first demoed, iCloud Drive looked to be an updated version of iDisk, but we quickly learned that wasn't the case. In order to access the files on our drive, developers need to bake the functionality into their apps first, and even then, it's not the most reliable system in the sky. A dedicated app might not be a splashy feature, but it would give us the ability to quickly transfer files between our Macs and iOS devices without worry.

And then there's the clipboard. The majority of my own multitasking desires center around copying text and images from one app into another, and the ability to beam the clipboard's contents would essentially give me a second connected screen while I'm writing. If Apple could create an iCloud Clipboard or at least extend Handoff to include the contents of the clipboard, it would instantly knock down one of the main barriers to true multitasking.

Open and shut

Unlocking our iPhones has become easier than ever thanks to Touch ID's near-instant fingerprint recognition, but I still kind of wish I didn't have to use it so often. It's not something I think about too often with my iPhone, since I'm generally holding it in the proper position, but on the iPad, it's a bit of a nuisance, particularly when using a Smart Cover.

Apple could take a page from Android here. Lollipop offers a pretty cool feature called Smart Lock that lets users set up "trusted" places and Bluetooth devices that will keep your phone unlocked when within a specified range (like when you're lounging on the coach or jogging with your favorite wireless headphones). Security is of utmost importance to Apple, but the option to keep your iOS device unlocked when it's in range of your Apple Watch would be an intriguing feature.

And it could extend to the Mac, too. The Knock app already uses a neat Bluetooth trick to use your iPhone or Apple Watch to bypass the OS X login screen, but a homegrown solution baked into iOS 9 that brings that magic to all of our devices based on proximity would bring an even greater sense of synergy and simplicity.

Easy complications

Since its humble beginnings, iOS has gained more than a dozen apps, added countless features and gone through one major redesign, but when it comes to the lock screen, Apple has been very protective. We're finally able to access shortcuts in the Control Center and widgets in the Notification Center, but with the exception of the background picture, we can't do anything to customize the appearance of the screen we see most often throughout our day.


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