iOS Wishlist

With iOS6 due for release this autumn, Apple have already released a list of a lot of the upcoming features and improvements it will bring.There are definitely some useful additions in there, as well as some features I know I will never use.

I have been using an iPad for just over a year at this point, and there are a few key features that I would dearly love to be added. The iOS platform has grown from strength to strength since its inception but there are a still a few minor niggles where the way it works is at odds to some logical-seeming use-cases.

When I thought of this topic a few months back, I had originally made notes about the rumoured “Podcasts” app.
This has already arrived and, although far from perfect, it allows me to do what I had hoped from it. Here’s hoping some of my other ideal features arrive…

Games

One of the current drawbacks of iOS as a mobile gaming platform is that saved progress is not kept separately form the main app. As a result, when you remove the game you remove your saves. There is currently no simple way to delete a game for space without completely losing all progress.
This is not useful if a game you’re not currently playing is taking up space on your device. If you ever intend to return to it, you are forced to leave it sat there taking up space.

Make it part of the backup-via-iTunes. Hell, make it available through iCloud. I don’t currently use it, but this would instantly make it into something worth looking into.

The ability to store and manage save files will become increasingly important as mobile devices are starting to become the mobile gaming platforms of choice, Why carry a DS or PSP with you (along with their charging cables) when you already have a cellphone and tablet?

The thing is, as the bigger games companies try to bring entires onto iOS and Android, they are competing with much cheaper games in the same store. Yes, you are often paying for increased gameplay and brand recognition, but this is where space runs into a problem,
Do I really want to pay £10-20 on a game that will eat up a chunk of the fixed storage space on my iPad? Currently, no. Not if I can’t shift the save files around to use later. But if I can move games on and off the tablet, yet always have access to my save files when I put them back on the device, I am going to look into more of them.

User-Defined Default Apps

Whilst you can get alternative apps for things like web-browsing and email, there is currently no way a non-jailbroken iOS device can change the default app.

For example, unless an app specifically knows to look for Google Chrome as a possible web browser, you can only open URLs frpm other apps in Safari.

A way of allowing apps to officially announce themselves as being alternatives to default apps would be really nice. Being able to also set a default would, of course, be ideal but even adding an menu option of “Open in Other Browser” would help a lot.

Higher Cellular Download Cap

I understand why they want to stop some of the larger downloads happening when people are on cellular as opposed to wireless. The current 50MB limit, however, is increasingly restrictive. With Retina-compatible apps having larger additional graphical assets and some podcast episodes going over 50MB, it is harder to find things that fit within this limit.

My iPad is on a contract that includes 15GB per month. I go nowhere near this – I just chose it as 3 have the highest cap for the same price as everyone else. It would be nice to be able to use the merest fraction of this when I am trying to download an app, game or episode when not near a wireless signal.

By all means still impose limits. It’s just that 50MB is too restrictive these days. If I want a half-gig game, yes make me find a proper internet connection. But for something under 150MB? Really?

Anything Else?

It’s hard to think of any other features I’d class as must-have. The only other currently-lacking features that I can actually think of are things (like per-account email signatures) that are already in the next version. So I will be very curious to see what else shows up, and where they can go in iOS7.

iPad Podcast Playlists

If, like me, you use playlists to keep on top of your podcasts you might experience a problem if you have moved to iOS5. I started to use playlists a few years back, as I can connect my iPod to my car radio but its menu doesn’t include podcasts. It does, however, include playlists. So I would queue them up in order and play them that way. It worked so well for me, I stuck with it for general use. So I just fire up the playlists whether in iTunes or on my iPod. Or my new iPad… until changing to iOS5.

iOS5, on the iPad anyway, has a shine new “Music” app that sorts and displays things totally differently.
It will put the contents of podcast playlists into the podcasts section (sorter by show, not in your order), but it won’t show the actual playlist anywhere. I found a workaround that works for me, though.

  1. Add a music track to the end of your podcast playlist
  2. Put the playlist into a folder
  3. Ensure the playlist is selected for syncing both under Music and Podcasts
  4. Re-sync your device (this might require turning it on and off first, it might not)

You will now find the playlist on the main page (i.e. under Music), under it’s folder. Order or tracks is preserved.