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Ten improvements we'd like to see in iOS

Macworld Staff | April 30, 2013
Like clockwork, Apple has released a new major version of its iOS mobile operating system every summer since 2008, and we expect 2013 to be no different. iOS 7 seems likely to take its bow at the company's annual Worldwide Developers Conference, which will be held June 10 through 14 in San Francisco.

Multiply multitasking

iOS 4 added multitasking, and it was great. But now, nearly three years later, it's feeling a bit underwhelming. The double-tap-to-expose-your-recently-running-apps approach is okay, but there's more that Apple could do here--a lot more. Instead of merely showing app icons, perhaps iOS could display the screenshots from your other running apps, to give you a clearer sense of where you left off. It also seems like Apple needs to do something to make it clearer to customers that they needn't force-quit all their open apps; even a simple indication of which apps are currently consuming background resources could do the trick.--Lex Friedman

Curb notification overload

For years, we asked for better notifications in iOS. But in some ways, the arrival of iOS 5's Notification Center has created more problems than it's solved. While having a central repository of all inbound notifications is handy at times, Notification Center all too often becomes a slush pile of all those notifications that you saw but didn't need to refer back to. So we do the dance: Open up Notification Center, tap the X button for an app, then tap Clear. Rinse. Repeat. Notification Center should be smarter about clearing out old, stale notifications--or at least, let users decide how long to keep those notifications. In addition, there should be better control over what shows up in Notification Center in the first place; for example, you should be able to specify which of your calendars it pulls events from. And, as smartwatches like the Pebble and MetaWatch become more and more common, iOS should make sending notifications to accessories friendlier and more compatible.--Dan Moren

Enhanced text editing

We waited a good long time for Apple to bring copy-and-paste to iOS, and though it works, it still feels fiddly. My mom still struggles with it, and I'd be lying if I said I've never cursed under my breath while trying to get that finicky cursor precisely where I want it on my iPhone. This doesn't feel like an easy problem to solve, but Apple is surely up to the task: Text selection, editing, and even typing remain in their infancy on touchscreen devices. When it first appeared, iOS's onscreen keyboard was among the best of the best; it's time for Apple to make that omnipresent functionality a little more mature.--Lex Friedman

Drop in AirDrop

OS X's AirDrop feature, which lets you exchange files with other Mac users via a peer-to-peer Wi-Fi connection, is often maligned, but iOS is one place where the feature could be genuinely handy. Sure, you can email or iMessage files back and forth, but wouldn't it be cool if you could quickly and easily exchange pictures, videos, and other files with your nearby friends with just a tap or two? And though I'm not suggesting that Apple should steal Samsung's "bump-to-share" feature wholesale, Samsung has already borrowed plenty from Apple, so maybe a little turnabout is fair play.--Dan Moren


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