In June, at the World Wide Developers Conference in San Francisco, Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:APPL) will announce the next version of the operating system that powers the iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch. And, while a lot has been written about what changes are expected (Healthbook, better Apple Maps, etc.), there are several iOS features that could vastly improve the functionality and use of any iOS device. While Apple seems focused this year on health and fitness applications, here's a list of six changes that would make iOS 8 the best version yet.
More iCloud space or Time Capsule support for iOS devices
Apple has a brilliant ecosystem. I have an iPhone, an iPad, a Macbook Pro and a Time Capsule in my house, and I love the way they work together. But the Time Capsule that I back up my MBP to doesn’t work with my iPad of iPhone 5. I know that when I sync my iPad and iPhone with iTunes it creates a backup stored on the MBP, and therefore, Time Capsule has a backed-up copy of both devices. But this seems redundant, and if my MBP fails, I can’t back up any new information locally until I get it fixed. I have a 2TB Time Capsule that I can’t use for two of my devices, which is nuts.
Although I can still back up my iOS devices to iCloud, but I only have 5GB of iCloud storage, despite my three devices. Considering that the backup file for my iPhone 5 takes up 3.2GB of data alone, my iPad doesn’t get any space unless I pay for it. Dropbox, one of Apple’s main virtual storage competitors, offers more storage for free as you connect external services to your account. But whether I spend $250 or $1,500, I get 5GB. Giving more iCloud space, or supporting Time Capsule syncing, would be very welcome when iOS 8 launches.
Ditching annoying group messages
I have a friend who loves to throw parties. She has at least one a month. St. Patrick’s Day, Cinco de Mayo, summer rooftop parties -- they're all great. But she invites people via group iMessage, which would be fine if I didn’t have to endure the 50+ messages from people I barely know. Inevitably, I end up sending the “please stop responding” text, making me look like a jerk. Apple has a huge opportunity to fix this and save us all a lot of headache. Upgrading to iOS 8 would be worth it for that feature alone.
Changing default apps
I live in New York City and rely on public transit. I haven’t owned a car in nearly two years. When I'm not on a train, I walk or ride my bike everywhere. Even if I wanted to use Apple Maps, I can’t because it lacks public transit, biking and walking directions. So I use the ever-mighty Google Maps. It works perfectly. But when someone texts me their address, I can’t just click the hyperlink and bring up Google Maps. Instead, I have to copy the address and paste it into my choice mapping program. This is done so that Apple’s proprietary programs get some play, but honestly, this is more of a pain than it has to be.
Delete or hide unused proprietary apps
I get that Apple wants you to use its programs and apps alone. But the Apple Maps debacle proves that sometimes they bite off more than they should. On top of that, not every Apple app is perfect for every user. For example, besides Apple Maps, I don’t use the Stocks app or Videos, either. So I am forced to put these unused apps in their own little folder and tuck it away on a second page. I would love to just completely hide the icons off of the springboard, freeing up that screen space for an app that I do use. Better yet, I would really love to delete them all together. Isn’t it my choice what apps I should use?
Battery usage percentages for apps
In Apple’s most recent OSX version Mavericks, battery management was a major focus. Hopefully, Apple will take those same lessons and ports them in to iOS 8. I like to keep apps open in the background so I can quickly switch between them, but this can easily kill my phones charge. In Mavericks, users get to see which programs are using “significant energy.” This could be a hugely beneficial feature for iOS 8 because power users want to extend the battery life on their iPhones and iPads.
Airdrop between devices
Airdrop is a handy little feature. When two Apple computers are on the same network, files can be sent seamlessly between the devices via a combination of Bluetooth and Wi-Fi. I’ve used this to share music files, pictures and videos between my computer and my roommate’s. Gone are the days of thumb drives for small file transfers. And, while files can be sent between iOS devices, OSX to iOS Airdrop doesn't currently exist. Having the ability to send a single file via Airdrop, instead of going through a full sync with your computer, would be a huge time saver. Want to change your background? Done. Add that recently downloaded song or ringtone? Airdrop could do it. Adding this support seems like a no brainer.
While I know that many of these features will take developers some gumption and know-how to implement, I don’t believe any of this is out of the norm. Heck, original iPhone users had to wait more than two years to get copy and paste. Apple will most likely announce iOS 8 at WWDC, June 2-6, and it will probably launch with the iPhone 6 in September.