5 things I want in iOS 8, a developer’s perspective

ios-8-banner-todaysiphoneNow that we are rolling into April, we are only about 2 full months away from our first glimpses of iOS 8 – that is assuming we see it at WWDC ’14. iOS 8 will more than likely be a refinement of iOS 7 with maybe few UI tweaks – similar to those of iOS 7.1 – and hopefully many backend tweaks. With iOS 7, Apple showed the new direction that it plans to go for software design, but there was still a lot of work to do (just look at iOS 7.0 to iOS 7.1). My hopes are high for what Apple will give developers in iOS 8, even if I know not all of these will become true.

1. Siri APIsiri

Siri is pretty neat, but is something that definitely could use some attention. Some developers have found workarounds for using Siri to support their applications such as using Reminders integration and Calendar integration, etc, but it isn’t the same as a full blown API. There is so much you could do with a Siri API that can’t be done now, it’s remarkable Apple hasn’t opened this up even a little yet. I’m sure I am not the only person that would love to see this implemented, just ask other developers, a Siri API is something that has been asked for since Siri was introduced with the iPhone 4s and iOS 5.

For example, what if someone is writing a custom alarm-based application, and wants to allow a user to add an alarm to their app via Siri; impossible. What if you want to make a Skype call or send a message in WhatsApp in Siri? Also impossible. So many different types of applications would be able to benefit from this: messaging apps, social media apps, VOIP apps, utilities, etc. There are just so many possibilities for a Siri API that it is crazy we haven’t gotten this yet.

2. Notification Center API

notificationcenterNotification Center in general needs to be looked at after iOS 7. The “Missed” tab needs to be dropped, and just make it “Today” and “Notifications.” But what developers could do with Notification Center, that’s a different story. If you are an Android user, or have used/stay up to date with Android, you will know that the notifications in the notification pane for Android can have actions, etc. Notifications on Android are way ahead of iOS, and Apple needs to change that. I want to be able to reply to texts from Notification Center by clicking a “reply” button.

This is where developer support could come in. If Apple gave developers access to actionable notifications, then we could see email applications allow messages to be replied to, marked as read, delete, marked as remind later (for something like Mailbox), etc. Messaging applications could see reply capabilities, mark as read, delete, etc. Say someone texts you and you want to call them, you have to open the text, tap on Contact, and then phone, and (if they have an iPhone) choose Voice Call then it will call. What if under every text there was a set of buttons, “Reply”, “Mark Read”, and “Call.” That would be much, much easier.

3. Control Center API

controlcenterControl Center is another place introduced in iOS 7 that needs some attention. I understand, Apple had to work on it and have it ready for June last year, but now it has had another year to work on Control Center. Control Center has seen a lot of attention from the jailbreak community and it has shown just how much Control Center can really do when developers are given access to it. Sure, Apple will never open iOS as much as jailbreak developers do, but it could at least take some cues from them.

Apple could easily open Control Center for developers to add widgets such as compose widgets for things like WhatsApp messages, Facebook Messenger, etc. Control Center is full of possibilities, and is just waiting for Apple to open it up. If Apple were to open Control Center or Notification Center as previously mentioned, the application review process would need to be a lot more tedious so that applications didn’t take too much advantage of the two.

4. Keyboards

keyboardKeyboards, keyboards, keyboards! We want 3rd party keyboards! I feel like if Google can do so, Apple should be able to find some way of doing so. A way to pick 3rd party keyboards, and just allowing 3rd party keyboards in general, would be something great. Some companies have developed APIs that developers can use in their apps, but these aren’t supported system wide. So, say you buy an app and use a specific keyboard in that app, unless the developer of another app you use supports it, you can’t use it in that other app.

This is something that would need to be highly restricted at first so that Apple could get a handle on how exactly it wants to go about delivering more API support to developers in order to use the 3rd party keyboards. It would need to implement a way to build custom keyboards, install custom keyboards, choose custom keyboards, uninstall them, etc. There are a lot of factors that would go into this, so we never really know when or even if this will ever come to iOS.

5. Home Screen Icons API

homescreenHome screen icons need to be opened up. At this point, there isn’t a question that iOS and the devices it runs on can support live home screen icons because even Apple is doing it. Currently there are two dynamic app icons: Calendar and Clock. These two apps have icons that can change, with the Calendar showing the current date and the clock – you guessed it – showing the current time. What if I use Fantastical as a Calendar-replacement app, and want to see the current date on that? Well, you can show a badge on the icon with the current date as a workaround, but that’s not good looking.

This, just as the other things I’ve mentioned, would be limited and restricted at first, but it would be a step in the right direction. Something else that could come of this is the ability to show the current weather on a weather application; simple things like that. Showing your next turn on a Maps icon when using navigation, showing the current score of my favorite MLB team on the icon of the MLB At Bat icon. There are endless possibilities, and this is something I would almost love to see more than anything else mentioned above.

And you?

This is what I want from iOS 8, but of course everyone wants their own things. What would you like to see in iOS 8? Any of the features I mentioned? Let us know in the comments, or tweet me @TiP_Kyle.

 

 

 

 

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  • Rober

    All of these will never happen because apple understands user experience. Customization is the price you pay.

    • Kyle Frost

      I wouldn’t say “never.”

  • roopull

    Dang… at risk of sounding like an Android phanboy, isn’t this all Android stuff?

    Before anyone does accuse me of such, my fave OS at this point is WP8… but like ‘em all…

    • Kyle Frost

      Most, yes. The difference here isn’t that “oh Android has that” it is – in my opinion – Apple could do it better.

      • roopull

        You’re probably right on a couple of those, maybe all.

        I’d say one reason you’re right that Apple could do it better is that, by being 2nd or 3rd, they can see what has worked for others, what the mistakes were, and respond accordingly. The second reason is… well… it’s Apple. Having everything “in house” certainly helps.

        One reason you’re probably wrong on a couple of those is that Apple has a horrible record of cooperating with 3rd party developers. In order to get any of these to work, they’d have to take the chains off their own stuff. Clearly, they don’t like doing that. I doubt Siri will every be as integrated as Google Now or Cortana. She’ll likely always be cheeky and fun, but pretty pointless at many of the cool things the others can do. It’s the Apple way… Be better at doing less.

        Baffling.

  • John Redcorn

    “I want an Android that looks like an iPhone so I can still be seen with an iPhone.”