Everything Missing From iOS 9 Part 4 (or What I Want From iOS 10)

This post continues my list of  iOS 10 features I want to see. Want to read the previous posts? Click here for part 1, part 2 and part 3.

Notification Center

Notifications need better organization. I don’t mean having the ability to go into settings and change it as a preference but to change it on the fly as you are browsing the Notification Center. Right now we have Today and Notifications listed in Notification Center. Under Notifications itself you could have yet another row of columns to pick for sorting the notification objects. Being able to sort by time and date vs sorted by app vs combination app and date are very useful choices. That’s real message management like you have with email.

Notification Center is still missing stock sharing panes that were removed in iOS6. I’d love to see those social sharing panes come back. A few apps have similar widgets that appear in the notification center but they do not work the same way.

Home Screen

While Notification Center is a great place to have widgets, the home screen itself can be too. I think it is reasonable to believe that Apple could allow widgets in the place of icons in 1×1, 1×2, 2×1, 2×2, etc layouts while following the same rules that the Apple Watch icons have of only updating about once an hour, to avoid draining your battery. This works out very well for the home screen clock icon which even has a second hand that constantly animates smoothly as you see it on the screen, so it should be allowed for other app icons. I think a large square icon that can update live once per hour would still be better than the now static display of icons.

When the iPad Pro came out, Apple made the gap between home screen icons more ridiculously large than ever. The fact that you can place an original iPhone screen in between the icons (by resolution, not actual phone size) highlights the fact that the original idea no longer scales. I would really like to get icons as close together as possible, mainly because I prefer as few swipes as necessary to find my apps. This would also allow more icons to be visible in folders on these bigger screens, especially if we can get the icons to be as close on iPad Pro as they are on an iPhone SE. The current limitations on visible icons seems very out of date; it is not beautiful looking on the iPad Pro, it is silly. Either allow me to make the icons seem smaller or allow me to reduce the gap between them, or give me a combination of the two.  I’m not asking for hexagonal Apple Watch style icon arrangement, as that would not work for the larger screens that allow many more icons; it would just be a confusing mess. What I’m asking for is:

  • the ability to custom place icons without snapping to grid in the current 3×3 folder layout or the 6×4 home screen icon layouts.
  • the ability to tightly pack icons together into a row or pile of icons, scaling up for bigger sized displays from iPad mini all the way up to iPad Pro, that then expand when clicked.
  • something more evolved than the current grid that would allow us to sort things the way we want and would let me switch between views of sort by date last used, the usual manual layout, sort by date last installed/updated, sort by last notified.
  • folder tagging, more than just the name. Icons already have the little blue dot next to them for indicating the app has been updated, or an orange dot for TestFlight beta apps. How about allowing me to set a little green or purple square or triangle next to a folder to tag it in a fashion that is clear to me.

We need the home screen to be closer to the more intuitive real desktop pile metaphor that we use in our daily lives. I don’t advocate the terrible photo pile of icons that old photo collage used to skeuomorphically emulate. I just want something more manipulatable. Launcher by Cromulent Labs has a great interface for resizing widget icons that could be adapted to the OS itself.

Dragging icons around the page or across pages has also become a messy job that should be more painless. Mistakenly slide wrong and you have icons flowing into other pages. A move icon in another corner after a long press could let you accurately place an icon on another page without having to slide many icons back into place after a mistake.

(Continued in Part 5)