Apple has unveiled iOS 8, which includes a raft of improvements over iOS 7. However, it doesn’t address some of the criticisms we’ve levelled at the OS for a while, and didn’t get all of the features that were rumoured. So, here are 9 things we - the PC Advisor team - want to see when Apple launches iOS 9. See also: Android M vs iOS 9 comparison.
1 Parental Controls (proper ones)
A long-time bugbear for many people. iOS does incorporate parental controls, but they’re useful only if the device is used exclusively by a child. Since the options apply ‘globally’, any restrictions you set up affect every person who uses the iPad or iPhone. There are better ways to do this, as demonstrated by Freetime on the Amazon Kindle Fire and Kid’s Corner on Windows Phone 8.
Plus, the parental controls which exist in iOS don’t go far enough. We’d like to see extra features added in iOS 9 such as time limits, preferably per content type so you can limit access to games, but allow more time to educational apps, say.
2. User profiles
Let’s get this one out of the way near the start. As well as being useful for enforcing restrictions (as with parental controls), multiple user accounts would mean that you can pick up someone’s iPad or iPhone and use it in ‘guest’ mode. Or, families could share a device but keep their email and Facebook accounts separate, have the home screens set up the way they want to, set their own wallpaper and retain their positions in videos, books and even their scores in games.
It’s unlikely to happen, since selling one device per person makes a lot more sense, but we can but hope.
3. A customisable Control Centre
Control Centre is one of the best new features in iOS 7, but we want more (naturally). Specifically, it would be handy to customise the shortcuts instead of having to stick with the defaults. And, while we’re at it, we want the Wi-Fi SSID to be shown in Control Centre so you can swipe up and quickly check which network you’re connected to instead of having to delve into the setttings.
4. Split-screen multitasking
More useful for iPad owners, but still worthwhile on the iPhone, the ability to run more than one app on screen at once would be a massive boon. Whether you want to send an email or post something to Facebook while watching a YouTube video, not being forced to have only one app open at once would make life a lot easier at times (first-world problems, we appreciate). Who knows, split-screen may yet make it to the iPad for iOS 8 - videos showing the feature are floating around the web - but if it doesn't, then please, please let it be in iOS 9.
5. Public transport directions in Apple maps
If you’ve ever used Google maps to work out which bus to catch to get to your destination, you’ll appreciate exactly how useful it is. As well as telling you exactly where to board, it also tells you what time the bus is scheduled to arrive. It also does something similar for train journeys.
Such a feature was rumoured to appear in iOS 8, but since it hasn’t, let’s hope that it’s in development and will become reality in iOS 9.
6. Change default apps
You can install a different web browser if you prefer Chrome, say, to Safari, but if you tap on a hyperlink from an email, Safari will open. We’d love to see the option to choose default apps so you don’t have to use Apple’s if you don’t want to.
7. Calculator on iPad
Quite why iPad users don’t get a calculator is a mystery. The fact that calculator is in Control Centre on the iPhone is brilliant, but why don’t iPad owners feel the love? It isn’t as it iPad owners don’t need or want to do the odd calculation. And it’s hardly a big ask.
8. A better, easier Photos app
Hands up everyone who gets confused by the Photos app. Us too. We want an easier to use app that doesn’t involve so much duplication and confusion. If you create an album and add some photos to it, they remain in the camera roll and photo stream. You can’t then tidy things up by deleting them from the camera roll, as they will also be removed from the album.
9. A better Siri
Siri has gained a few new capabilities in iOS 8, such as hands-free operation when you say “Hey Siri” but rivals are still ahead. Google Now has some neat tricks, but Microsoft’s Cortana is quite remarkable. As well as good natural language understanding, Cortana can do more than Siri and also has a more human voice. She even sings if you ask her to.
What would be even greater is if iOS 9 is paired with powerful hardware which can do the number crunching that’s currently done by back-end servers. If Siri could work (even at a basic level) without an internet connection, it wouldn’t matter if you were in the middle of nowhere with hardly any mobile signal. Siri could still do transcription, set reminders and alarms and send text messages instead of telling you, “I’m really sorry about this but I can’t take requests right now.”