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5 Features Apple Should Add in iOS 8

With WWDC and iOS 8 around the corner, we thought we'd offer up our wish list for future iOS features and bug fixes.

1. Documents app

The biggest problem with iOS is the limited file system, which can make working on files in different apps difficult.

Currently you can store movies and photos in a central place that is accessible by all apps with permission to access it. While this implementation has its flaws (e.g. apps can't delete files they've created), creating a similar storage area for documents would go some way toward improving the limitations when sharing files.

Much like Photos and Videos, these documents could be accessed and managed in a Documents (or Files) app.

2. Utility apps

Another problem with iOS is that it can be difficult to know what to do when someone emails you an unusual file format.

For example, customers often email me .log files when I'm on the move. These are exactly the same as text files, however iOS refuses to open them because they do not have a .txt extension.

Unlike OS X, you cannot force a file to open in another app, nor can you rename files, so I was stuck scouring the App Store for an app that would open them. The only app I found that would open them was a hex editor app but this was not a perfect solution because it was not designed for formatting and displaying large portions of text.

OS X has a lot of utility apps like TextEdit, Preview, Font Book, etc, but Apple seems to have delegated Mail as the only (limited) general-purpose file viewer. If Apple hopes to one day replace OS X with iOS they will need to address issues like this.

3. Better Copy & Paste

I have a lot of difficulty with copying and pasting. The primary issue I experience is that iOS tries to second-guess what I'm doing and it always gets it wrong.

For example, after you have selected a certain amount of text iOS assumes you want to select the entire paragraph, which may not be exactly what you want, but there's no way to select less.

So I find it easier to select more text than I need, paste it and then delete the parts I don't want.

4. Improved multitasking

While switching between apps is simple, the apps don't always retain their status when you switch back to them.

For example, an app that requires a network connection may have disconnected or you may have to wait for a web browser to reload the page again.

This doesn't happen every time but it occurs when iOS comes under pressure to free up memory. Now that iDevice CPUs are pretty fast I hope Apple can implement an OS X-style memory compression system to reduce occurrences.

I also hope the rumors of split-screen multitasking are true because it will help significantly with this issue.

5. Better Gmail support in Mail

I use the stock Mail app with Gmail because I have not found a third-party mail app that I like (suggestions are appreciated).

However, the Mail app seems to be frequently confused by conversations, with some messages correctly joined together and others shown as distinct messages. This can be annoying if I've deleted a conversation, only for all the deleted messages to reappear in my inbox when someone else replies. In some cases this requires me to re-delete 15 or so messages.

Another issue is that it seems to be impossible to actually delete messages. Deleted messages are archived with a special tag rather than actually being deleted. Additionally, sent messages don't show up in other apps or the Gmail web interface.

It's for reasons like the five listed above that I prefer to delegate particular tasks until I get back to a desktop computer. If the rumors are correct and Apple is creating an iPad Pro, simply adding a bigger screen won't be enough. In my opinion the changes most likely to endear it to professional usage would come from iOS itself.

Posted by Jon Chappell on May 31 2014 to Analysis, Apple, Software