A real RSS based iCloud news service is needed, one that is baked into the OS to combine various services from around the interface such as Reading List and News and third party feeds such as Instant Articles. Reading List on its own is very buggy and doesnt let me make mass changes without immediately falling into the “syncing bookmarks” problem when I try to do two things in rapid succession making it pretty unusable. This is undoubtedly due to the fact that Reading List is tied to the Safari bookmarks which seems like a very poor choice. It is time to move it into iCloud Drive and stop the frustrating madness.
Aggregation is key to giving users a single interface to call home and dominate the attention. The river of news is still an important concept, and it is something you cannot get anymore from Facebook or Twitter because of how they no longer guarantee that posts will appear in order, just that they will appear in the most convenient fashion. Feedly, for example, keeps track of all the stories from feeds and doesn’t miss anything, even if I miss a day reading it. I can still go back and read past articles I might have missed from the day before. I find that a lot of news apps miss that point and only show you what is relevant at exactly that moment because they are actually catering to advertisers and eyeballs. I like keeping up to date – having one place to view it in makes life easier. There is still value in yesterday’s news even in politics and sports.
Music and audio
Music organization on the iPhone is very disorganized right now. The fact is that people try out and purchase content on different services and Apple should try to unify that with a common API. Spotlight search is a step in the right direction but there is more that can be done. Apple needs to stop pretending that its music app is the dominant one and that it shares the marketplace. While it is always shooting for knocking out the competition, they should at least not pretend they do not exist and instead try to make things easier for the customer. They should have a way of aggregating music search where owned music bubbles up above all services, or set a default/preferred (that’s why settings were called preferences, remember) music service that always shows above others. The reasons for having a preferred music service are varied and up to each person but those should be respected if the customer is really considered paramount.
Audio output on iOS in general needs improvement. The device already plays beeps and other sounds, while I listen to a podcast or music while playing a game. Take that further and allow apps like YouTube to also play in the background while audio plays from other sources. What we really want is multiple audio channels a la Audiobus and at this point we really just want Audiobus support!
I think that if the iPhone 7 gets rid of the audio jack it will be a major step backwards. I do not see the lightning connector as a good proxy for the headphone jack; lightning cables break way too often on me, I am now on my third pair of bluetooth headphones in one year, and I have yet to have a pair of EarPods go bad on me, no matter how badly I find them tangled and smooshed at the bottom of my bag.
The long standing complaint of not being able to save MP3s etc directly to the Music app makes it a bad choice for some people. There are people who have legitimate needs to store mp3 audio directly on the device without having to go through a third party app. I think it not only promotes the Apple Music store but can be a further source of boosted income. We know that many people that pirate music go on to buy the content after having tried it, but where they do so is up to them. If Apple could guide these users within their own app, it can guilt them into buying it from them. By using some sort of Shazam style capability in the background, the device could identify files that represent music that is also sold in the Apple Music store and unobtrusively display something like an iAd that directs the person to the Apple Music store to purchase the content. All this requires some sort of safari download manager, but how much horsepower and extra size would that really need? How much trouble would it be to allow those files to be used directly in various places around iOS without requiring ye olde thyme method of our grandfathers with laptop or desktop iTunes syncing. Why is iTunes even still a thing?
(To be continued in part 8)