6 big iOS flaws Apple really needs to fix

As the iPhone 5 nears, six major defects in iOS need to finally get addressed -- especially for iPad users

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Chances are that those of us who rely on iPads during significant portions of our day -- and for multiple days when traveling -- will continue to manually delete dozens of junk mails a day and move emails to their appropriate folders. It's a real annoyance -- and an unnecessary one.

2. File upload needs to be built in as a core service
iOS takes a lot of heat for not having a traditional file system. I agree with Apple's decision not to offer a file system but to instead save documents in their applications' sandboxes, so apps decide what other apps they allow users to share with. Although a common file system is very convenient, it's led to untold costs and frustrations related to viruses and other malware infecting the OS and software. After 20-plus years of malware on Windows and now Android, it's clear that the security industry has no solution to this problem. We need a different approach at the core -- which is what iOS's sandboxing approach is all about and why Apple is pushing the sandboxing approach in OS X.

That doesn't excuse iOS's difficulty in sharing files, especially with Web-based services. iOS has a facility called Open In that lets apps say which file formats they can work with and are willing to accept from other apps -- it's a permissions-based way to enable file sharing. Open In works well, at least when developers use it. But iOS needs a Send Out facility within Open In or as a parallel service.

The need is acute on the Web. If you use a photo-sharing service, a content management system, or an FTP client, you know what I mean. You can't transfer files from an iOS app to one of these Web-based services, even though you can sometimes transfer files from them (using Open In in Safari or iOS's Quick Look preview facility). That "only in iOS" approach is unworkable in many cases, and as iOS adds more apps that manipulate content, it's becoming a major obstacle.

For example, if you use iPhoto on an iPad to enhance your photos taken on the iPhone and synced via iCloud, you can't upload those files to a Web service from your iPad or iPhone. Instead, you have to wait till you get to your computer, sync the files to it via iCloud or iTunes, then upload the photos from your computer. Ditto for an Internet-based editing app such as SharePoint or Google Docs. I experience this barrier routinely when working in InfoWorld's Drupal-based Web content management system, where I can do almost everything on the iPad I can on my Mac. One big exception is I can edit but not upload images to the CMS, which is a problem when I'm on the road.

3. Safari needs to support common AJAX libraries completely
A related issue is Safari's partial support of common AJAX libraries such as TinyMCE. These open source libraries are essential extensions to HTML and JavaScript that function-rich websites rely on. For example, a common AJAX widget is the reordering widget that you drag to reorder elements in a list. But you can't drag such UI widgets in iOS, so you can't use Web services that rely on them. Similarly, the TinyMCE word processor open source AJAX plug-in is only partially supported in Safari, so you can use just some of its tools.

It's great that Safari on iOS has the most HTML5 support of any mobile OS's browser, beating all versions of Android, Windows Phone, Bada, and BlackBerry. But HTML5 is not the only story on the Web, nor is it likely to be. Plus, one of the hallmarks of HTML5 is its applike capabilities, so a mobile OS that supports them needs to support the complementary AJAX services almost certainly to be used in concert. Yes, I know Safari's AJAX support beats that of its competitors, but it's not good enough to rely on for that "junior laptop" role the iPad has taken on. Given their open source nature, Apple could in fact create the enabling technology and make it available to all WebKit-based browsers.

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