iOS UI Refresh

iOS is undoubtedly a great touch UI. However, it needs a refresh, it’s long overdue for an overhaul.  Not just a “new widget” type refresh but a real overhaul.  If we can make a robot that flies millions of miles to explore a hostile planet…

SEARCHING FOR APPS

The whole repetitive process of searching for apps in the AppStore, installing them, updating them everyday and switching between them is getting so old, so 2012!

We’re are in the era of Robots that travel millions of space miles to do their thing. Robots that park cars, help the elderly etc. Our robots are getting smarter by the day. We need our smartphone to get smarter too.

Finding apps is a real pain. Not only is the AppStore not very good at finding apps for you, but the whole idea of searching for an app is tedious. A smartphone should really recommend apps based on our preferences. More importantly it should gives us a dashboard of the apps we haven’t used lately, suggest similar apps to those so we may decide to replace them and preset us with new apps altogether. New featured apps should be based on our preferences, not user ratings. What do I care if 500 million kids really love games and have access to their mom and pop’s credit card!? My featured apps need to be customized to my lifestyle, not a voting system.

The dashboard should be smart enough to look at what apps I have, types of documents I store on iCloud or Dropbox, most visited locations etc and come up with app suggestions that are really productive.

INSTALLING APPS

Installing apps is also rather tedious.  Once you find the app you still have to touch install and enter your password.  iOS screens should be sensitive enough to detect fingerprint patterns or have voice control for entering passwords orally.  This “popping the keyboard to type in passwords that get more complex every day due to hackers” thing is a bit annoying.  I completely agree with the need for security not only from strangers who might have gotten ahold of your phone but also little kids who might buy a slew of games on your device while you are not paying attention.  But adding a bunch of obstacles makes it a pain for those 5 to 10 minutes you do manage to pry the device from your kids’ hands and you want to actually buy an app.

UPDATING APPS

Updating is just as bad as installing.  No wait…its worse!  You only install once.  You update every time the developer comes up with a new update, which can be quite often.  Its annoying to see those red badges in the AppStore app reminding you of a pending update.  As if that wasn’t enough, you have to re-enter your password if you wish to update an app you already downloaded.  If the app cost anything, you don’t have to pay to upgrade it, so why ask for the password?  It won’t cost the user more money to upgrade it.  If you already downloaded it in the first place, why would you not want to have it upgraded?  Who wants to pay for an app but doesn’t want the new and improved features of it?  If you are going to ask the user, “the app you have has new improvements ready to be downloaded for free, do you wish to download the new version that won’t cost you a penny?”, then at least ask “Or would you like to see these other apps that have similar functionality?”.  At least you will have made it worthwhile to make the user re-enter the long convoluted password in the tiny keyboard :).

SWITCHING APPS

This is perhaps the toughest feature to address.  iPad has done wonders with its sideways swipe to switch between apps or its upwards swipe to view open apps.  iPhone needs to at least get up to speed somehow.  I constantly find myself switching from twitter to facebook to email to browser.  Wouldn’t it be nice if the smartphone was actually smart enough to know what to do next?  For example, I have a usage pattern; when I wake up, I check facebook and then twitter, or vv.  It would be nice to click on the home button or voice control over to an action sheet with app launching options.  When leaving the facebook app, the user should be presented with options based on what he regularly does after facebook, or based on what would be a logical step after facebook.

The whole square icons on a grid app model needs to be revised.  Ill be honest, I don’t have a Windows phone, but I have heard it is one of the most touted advantages of the OS.  I have never used it so I don’t know if it’s really true or not but it is definitely something worth looking into because this whole switching between apps is really getting old.

Here is to hoping that iOS7 will bring something new.  Here is to hoping iOS7 won’t be another WindowsMe.

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