My iOS 10 Wish List - Part 2
Maps.app has been rapidly improving since its controversial launch. That said, there are still lots of areas for improvement. Map and location data will be an important aspect for a digital assistant that helps to run our lives. I hope to see some of the following come to iOS 10.
Trail Support - For Bikes and Hikes
One area that many tech companies struggle with in their Maps apps is coverage of both cycling and hiking trails. I am sure the data is much more difficult, time consuming, and costly to obtain, but through user sourcing and satellite imagery verification, trails could be mapped. This would enable an entirely new set of directions for Maps.app.
Apple has already collected topographic information for Maps to use in their 3D rendering that they overlay satellite imagery on top of (this is not the same as Flyover). Adding topography further increases the amount of information that users can gain from looking at Maps and would enable 3rd party outdoor recreation apps to provide users with topographic data without integrating Google Maps (which has basic topography) or paying for access to expensive topographical map databases.
Can you tell I sometimes hike to remote locations yet? Adding offline maps and APIs for 3rd parties to offer downloadable maps would allow users to explore and be directed through regions that may not have the best (or no) internet connection. Saving could be as simple as zooming the screen to the appropriate coverage area and tapping an action extension to save full detail of whats on your screen. Additionally, when traveling, offline maps are a great way to save on data and pairs perfectly with my next request.
Have you ever wanted to plan a trip and save points of interest to visit that you don't want to miss? Itineraries would make your iPhone much more capable at being your travel guide. Being able to save the itinerary on the device with all points of interest, directions, and a copy of the offline map would help you save data when traveling internationally or in areas with poor or no internet connection. And with the Proactive features introduced with iOS 9, itinerary items could be delivered to you based on your location or schedule to keep you on track. Seeing an overview of your entire trip can make planning much easier, and it is a great way to recall the amazing vacation you took 5 years ago. Other features like geotagged photos you've taken in the past, propagating on your overview, could help you find that secret spot you wanted to revisit.
Better User Correction Tools
Help me help you Apple. Maps started out with some holes in its data, but over the years it has gotten much better, in no small part because of user submitted corrections. But the tools could still be better. A feature that enabled users to submit road and trail information when a road or trail is either incorrect or missing could enable better coverage of new or unmapped paths. Information could be verified with geotagged photos or videos. There are millions of iPhones and iPads in use, and I am sure there are plenty of willing explorers that would love to help Apple improve its data.
Continuous Updates to Satellite Imagery
In the past 5 years both of my sisters have moved into developing neighborhoods. Maps' satellite imagery has frequently lagged behind on these developments by more than a year or two. Perhaps this is a political issue, but human's change their landscape and it is important to be able to convey that information. It also helps user's submit proper corrections, which helps to improve the directions maps can deliver. Apple probably has the cash on hand that launching a satellite isn't out of the realm of possibility, and good map data will be very important for that not so secret car.
Literally everyone else is doing some sort of snoozes, because sometimes we just don't have time to deal with the increasing amount of email we get, and sometimes, things are not pertinent until later. Mailbox (RIP) nailed snoozes on its introduction and Mail.app should revive its style and ease of use. I personally use Outlook for work email because it has snoozes in addition to being a decent cross platform app that I can put users on, both iOS and Android for their work email.
Rules & Automation
One feature that the iOS version of Mail lacks is the ability to apply rules to senders and subjects. Yes, rules can be applied elsewhere, but as we live on our mobile devices more and more, we should have the capability to apply rules and other automation (such as unsubscribing) to our email.
Mail.app has limited access to extensions, most of which are through third party keyboards or when dealing with attachments. I want to be able to use extensions even on emails that do not include attachments such as exporting messages to other apps and services without literally forwarding email to said services.
As part of indexing everything to make Siri and search more powerful, I would love to see tags come to mail. This way I could have tags on Notes, Photos, Mail Messages, Documents, etc. and be able to quickly view everything about a subject by just searching for that tag. Better yet, with automation, tags could be applied automatically like Proactive suggested calendar events so that you would always have all of the possible information about that subject at your fingertips.
Games and Game Center
Yes, I actually want Apple to do something with Game Center other than shut it down.
Make Game Center the Home of Games - Remove Games from the App Store
I love apps for what they enable me to do. And I am a huge gamer, both hardcore (my play time in Destiny would make most parents weep) and casual games. That being said, I think each needs its own respective home. Breaking games out of the App Store and putting them in Game Center could have numerous positive effects, and each store could get its own set of rules about purchases, returns, and ratings. I think as Apple thinks about how to make development of non-game applications sustainable, one thing that would greatly increase visibility for apps would be to let them stand apart from their game counterparts. Currently on the featured page there are 93 games (one single app store category) and 77 apps (24 app store categories). I am positive this is part of the discoverability problem for apps and game makers who struggle to stay visible. Games obviously are a big part of the platform and at 93-77 probably warrant their own store front.
Game Center itself has never been loved by Apple. Perhaps it is a lost cause to try to make it anything functional, but it can't hurt to give it at least one more shot. Better match making, game discovery, messaging and chat, and dare I say streaming could all make it a much better platform for gaming.
Centralized Game Credits
Before my day kids used to earn an allowance and then spend it all at arcades. Now, that allowance for some is given as iTunes credit which is then spent entirely on in app purchases. Something that could save the sanctity of games from freemium currency based games would be to reinvent the arcade token system. The game review team could dictate acceptable play earned per token so game developers did not abuse in app purchases as many do today. Terms could even give developers a better revenue split akin to subscriptions. I think Apple should try anything they can to kill in app purchase of currency. Alternatively, instead of credits, Apple could flat out ban the use of currency which is often set up in a way to make purchases with in game currency require additional purchase of currency, because the user's left over balance is inadequate for multiple purchases (selling 10 packs of currency, and requiring 6 currency per purchase).
Release Chess.app for iOS
Many of the problems Apple has with games spawn from Apple having no skin in the game. They need to have a game that uses Game Center so they can learn its faults and triumphs. This could lead to better match-making, better tools, better top charts (cheating is rampant), and a general better overall experience. If they are interested in other original content beyond radio, television series and movies, perhaps they could work with quality indie game developers to publish games like Threes, Monument Valley, Alto's Adventure, Ridiculous Fishing, Flappy Bird, Crossy Road, etc. Perhaps then they would realize that despite their best efforts there is a flourishing game platform on iOS.
iCloud and iCloud Drive
Since it's inception, iCloud has had a black eye. Unreliability, dysfunctionality, and inaccessibility plagued certain iCloud services. But year after year Apple has taken meager steps towards making all of iCloud a competent product. It's time to start competing in cloud services in all arenas and to do so with user data privacy and security in mind.
Copy the Best Parts of Google Drive and Dropbox - Shared Folders, Collaboration, Version History, App Integrations
Collaboration is nonexistent on iCloud. Yes there is the ability to share documents, but opening a link on an iOS device comically tells you that collaboration is only available on Mac and PC browsers and does not open in one of the installed iWork apps. Shared links are ugly and long. There is no folder sharing for collaborating. Etcetera, etcetera, etcetera. iCloud drive should resemble a modern day cloud storage application with features to share documents easily and securely, full collaboration on devices Apple claims you can get work done on, easily accessible version histories, and much more. COPY GOOGLE AND DROPBOX!
Once again make everything tag-able. Siri will thank us later.
Audio iBooks and "Read to Me"
Apple recently moved Audiobooks out of iTunes and into iBooks. One of the appeals of digital books is their ability to do more than regular books. It would be great to be able to have the stories come to life with Audiobooks with all the visual aids available by creators in iBooks. And if there is no audiobook version available give us better controls for the Speak Screen settings in iBooks (or in general) and let us request of Siri to "Read to Me".
Once again, Apple half supports an important feature in an iOS version of its apps. Both .epub and .ibooks books can be marked up with highlights and notes, but PDFs are left purely to be viewed. I at the very least want text selectable PDFs to gain the notation features of its siblings in iBooks, but perhaps we could gain full mark up for everything in iBooks (with Apple Pencil support as the cherry on top) for all three file types. This would bring iBooks on iOS up to snuff with the abilities of Preview on the Mac since Apple seems reluctant to release preview for iOS.
That's all for Part 2
I have a lot more ideas and a lot yet to cover (though I may not get finished by my WWDC Eve deadline). I will have a lot to say in the coming days. Again feel free to comment if you liked any of my ideas or have any of your own!