Apple's iOS 6 was not a major update to the mobile OS powering the iPhone and iPad. Apple could afford to coast a bit in 2012, given how far behind Android and the other competitors trailed in 2011. Android at least has made major leaps this year, with Android 4.1 "Jelly Bean" bringing that platform to near-equality with iOS (very good on the whole, with some advantages and some disadvantages vis à vis iOS). Apple needs to be bold in next fall's iOS 7, but it shouldn't wait so long to fix lingering deficiencies.
Here are eight issues Apple could fix well before iOS 7 is released, to ease its users' mobile lives and strengthen the platform at the same time.
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1. Quick access to airplane mode, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, and Do Not Disturb. When you're settling into an airplane seat, enabling airplane mode to turn off all radios requires getting into the Settings app. Likewise, to enable or disable Wi-Fi or change Wi-Fi access points, as well to enable, disable, or pair Bluetooth devices, requires navigating the Settings app. The very handy Do Not Disturb feature would be even handier if you didn't have to navigate to Settings to enable or disable it. iOS should take a page from Android and make these network features easily accessible.
There are two ways Apple could do this:
- Add icons for these three network controls to the multitasking dock, next to the playback, AirPlay, and rotation-lock/mute controls. To open the multitasking dock, double-press the Home button or, on the iPad only, swipe four fingers up. Then swipe to the left to get to the playback, AirPlay, and rotation-lock/mute controls. Apple could add at least airplane mode and Do Not Disturb controls to their left, and perhaps also Wi-Fi and Bluetooth quick-access buttons.
- Add icons for these controls to the notification tray (like Android does).
Either way, Apple could make the display of such icons a user-selectable setting, so people can choose whether they want the quick-access icons there.
2. Add pause capability to the Camera app for video recording. The Record button in the Camera app has only two modes: start and stop. You can't pause video while recording. You should be able to, and all Apple has to do is add a pause button or option. Again, Android does this right -- as does the crusty BlackBerry.
3. Stop resetting my flash and HDR settings. After you take a photo, iOS 6 resets the flash to off. If you enabled HDR (high dynamic range), it too is turned off after you take a picture -- often, though not always. I get that the flash uses more power and HDR uses more storage space, so I can see why Apple is being "kind" in protecting me from myself. But I'm a grownup, so don't coddle me. After all, the flash status is always shown onscreen, so I can easily see if it's on, off, or on auto -- leave it as I did. Speaking of Camera status, why not show HDR status the same way it shows the flash status, so I know whether HDR is on or before before I take a picture?