Hater’s gon’ hate (especially our resident WP7 fanboy, Uzair Sajid)… but iOS undoubtedly offers the best mobile OS user-experience (UX) today: It’s simple, it’s fast, it’s nimble but, more often than it should happen, I find myself frustrated by how certain parts of iOS’ user-interface (UI) are overly simplified. This post shall, in no particular order, cover those very over-simplifications, how you can get rid of them and why Apple should implement some UI tweaks in the next major version of iOS.
#1 Gestures, Fullscreen for Safari
What’s it like now? Safari for iOS, by default, only supports one multi-touch gesture. This is the gesture we’re all so very well familiar with: pinch-to-zoom.
What do we want? Now this is all well and good, but considering how Safari’s desktop cousin supports many different kinds of gestures, I believe iOS should get it as well.
I’m not talking about three-finger gestures; they would take over the screen and just not be intuitive to use. Simple gestures like two-finger swipes and two-finger taps could be used to back/forward, open new tab and go full screen.
Lastly, Safari could also use a full-screen mode so you can see the webpage in its entirety without the bar at bottom.
Can I get it now? Yes! All you need is FullScreen from Cydia under Big Boss repository. $1.49
#2 Quicker, One-Tap Access to Settings
Settings Toggles in TouchWiz (source)
What’s it like now? If you want to turn WiFi on or off, iOS necessitates several steps. You first have to jump out of the currently running app > go to Settings > Turn off WiFi.
What do we want? An accesible-from-anywhere settings toggle. Samsung totally nailed this with their TouchWiz 3.0 UI for Android wherein you’re only one swipe and tap away from changing important settings like Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and Silent mode.
Can I get it now? Most definitely. SBSettings works excellently with iOS devices. With it, you can access important toggles by swiping on the status bar! SBSettings can be downloaded from Cydia under Big Boss repository. It’s free!
#3 A Proper Notifications System
What’s it like now? iOS’ pop-up notifications system is broken and absolutely horrible. Period.
Once you get a notification, you have to either a. view it b. cancel it. If you choose option a, you’re taken out of the current app. If you choose b, the notification is really just gone forever.
Android and webOS’ notification system are, hands down, the very best with their pull-down and pull-up (respectively) notification drawers system.
MobileNotifier for iOS helps make notifications a less painful experience.
What do we want? Notifications that aren’t forced down your throat. I humbly ask Apple to go ahead and copy Android / webOS, there’s no shame in imitating the best... from time to time.
Can I get it now? Of course! Get MobileNotifier. Available from Cydia for freeeee! It works by showing the notifications in the app-switching tray.
#4 Better Folders
Do you see the issue with Folders?
What’s it like now? To be very honest with you, Folders in iOS is a very limited feature. You can only have 12 apps within a folder, you can’t have folders within folders, icon pages etc.
I am forced to make multiple folders which hold the same type of apps (seen in above screenshot); oversimplification, much?
What do we want? We just want Apple to hire the dude behind FolderEnhancer (FE). FE supercharges iOS Folders by allowing only 12 unlimited apps, subfolders and icon pages. This is how Folders should have been like all along.
Can I get it now? Positive! FolderEnhancer is available from Cydia for $1.99. It’s worth every single cent.
#5 Widgets / Tiles
Time and Weather widget on HTC Desire running Android 2.2
What’s it like now? Widgets are tiny programs that display some certain type of information on your homescreen, information such as weather updates, the time and date, calendar, favorite contacts and tweets from Twitter; they are essentially one-trick ponies.
Now iOS’ launcher is very much app centric. In order to get, say, a weather update or check the latest updates on Facebook, you will have to open up the Weather or Facebook app. There is no way to get information at a glance, there is always some kind of diving in involved.
The absence of widgets is especially painful on the 9.7” iPad.
What do we want? Some way to get information at a glance. The way iOS is designed, there will be a need for a significant rethinking in how the Springboard works (being app centric and all) for widgets to be supported.
Both Android and WP7 work this out by having the homescreen separate from the app drawer. There is no homescreen/app-drawer distinction in iOS which, from what I can foresee, will be required if Apple is ever to implement widgets.
There are just some of the many possible UI bits you can tweak. Jailbreaking your iOS device opens up a whole new world of possibilities you hitherto never knew existed. You can fine-tune your experience to make the device run as you want and not how ol’ Jobso wants to.
Of course, there will always be two sides to this. Many of you prefer the vanilla iOS experience, unjailbroken and very much how Apple wants it to be. That’s all fine and dandy, but let’s not beat around the bush: iOS 5 needs better notifications, more functional folders and quicker access to settings.
Anything to add to the list? I eagerly await your views and suggestions in the comments!