Hopes for iOS5 and iCloud Checklist for WWDC

[UPDATE: See how the checklist held up here]
Apple's four year old mobile operating system is getting pretty long in the tooth and it's fairly complicated set-up requirements are resulting in few iPhone users taking advantage of some of its most useful features. This is my checklist of features or "Pillars" that iOS5 and its accompanying iCloud service need to be able to provide in order for this operating system to stay relevant.

Essential Changes/Additions to the Combined iOS5 / iCloud Platform

  1. Single-Sign-On Auto-Configuration: Sounds complicated but its what makes Smartphones 'Smart'. Basically when a user signs into a iDevice with their Apple ID, their device is auto-configured for Mail / Contacts / Calendar / Find My iPhone GameCenter / Ping and iCloud backup services (With the option to un-check any of these services). When a user gets a new iPhone and turns it on (i.e. at an Apple Store) or is setting up a previsously formateed iPhone, instead of getting a symbol to connect to your computer you are simply asked for your Apple ID or to set one up if you don't have one. Hopefully if your Apple ID is a MobileMe account it will auto-configure MobileMe services or the replacement iCloud service (and possibly unlikely but hopefully if your ID is a gmail account it will auto-configure Google Sync). If the user does not use either of these as an Apple ID, alternative options for Exchange accounts should be provided. This Apple ID will then be associated with all your settings and iOS app save-states which I discuss further in the upcoming points.
  2. Cloud-Synced Data: Hopefully iCloud will bring better support for syncing your data on your iPhone OTA. For example photos and Text messages are currently lost if you lose your phone and you haven't synced your iDevice back to your computer recently. This is unacceptable as this is really valuable data to the common user and few are educated about how to keep it safe. I would hope it would intelligently choose the best time to do these syncs, such as when it's charging and connected to WiFi as well as helping you get the right balance between caching and permanent storage.
  3. Cloud-Synced App Save States: Just like how iBooks can sync the page you are up to between your iPhone and your iPad and just as how Steam Cloud allows you to pick up where you left off in a game you are playing on any computer that you are logged into. This ability needs to be available to all apps and all third party developers. Pause a video on my Apple TV, pick up where i left off on my iPad when I get into bed. Pause a position in a podcast or an audiobook on my mobile device and pick it up from where I left off on my computer without having to sync via usb.
  4. Access My iTunes Purchased Content Anywhere: Any Apple device associated with my Apple ID should be able re-download or stream any content from iTunes I have purchased. Its not just apps I should be able to download, but music and movies as well. A purchase history list should also be added to the iStores on the iDevices much like the Mac App Store has. Being able to sync whole playlists would be even better. Build the playlist with a mouse and keyboard on your computer and have available to your iDevice whenever you want.
  5. A Web-Based iTunes Store: Since I assume iCloud will replace much of the functionality of the iTunes desktop software, I think iTunes and the iTunes Store needs to move to the cloud as well. With all this cloud syncing going on, I would like to be able to log into the iTunes store on any web-browser and be able to peruse Books/ Movies/Music/Apps etc and have them made available immediately to my iDevices when I purchase something. It would also be neat if I was able to organise my playlists from the web as well.
  6. Spotlight APIs for 3rd Party Developers: In-App purchases such as magazines, books and downloads such as podcasts and audiobooks from third-party apps need to be discoverable via iPhone's Spotlight search function.
  7. Better Notifications: I haven't mentioned this first because it is so obvious that if Apple were not to do something about this than I would personally recommend anyone holding Apple stock to sell-sell-sell. Notifications need to slide in and out of view to alert the user of what is going on in background apps without interrupting what you are doing (Instead of now where they pause video and/or stop your video stream from working). A notification history also needs to be available so that if you unlock your phone you haven't lost to context of your alerts forever. The notification timeline needs to also be "glance-able information" when you turn on the screen.

Things I Would Hope Apple Implements:
  • GameCenter and Ping Merged: They should be one service with additional abilities:
  • GameCenter APIs For the Web: Let achievement tracking services like GiantBomb and Raptr have access to APIs that let you show off your GameCenter achievements as well as on other web services like Twitter and Facebook. This will provide much needed promotion of the service.
  • Ping support for Apps / Movies / Books / Games: I want to see recommendations from my friends for not just music from the iTunes store but EVERYTHING it sells.
  • Better iDisk Support or iCloud Replacement: Documents on Apple iOS apps like Pages etc need to be able to be synced between devices in a similar fashion to how DropBox currently works for many 3rd party apps. I'm assuming iCloud will provide this option.
  • Display More Information on my Wallpaper: "Glance-able Information" like a To-Do List or App Notifications. It would be awesome if they added support for widgets but if not, at the very least, awesome apps like Stickies need the ability to export their notes as a wallpaper directly.
  • Location Aware Behaviours: When my iPhone is connected to my local WiFi and is charging, the iPhone should be smart enough to choose that time to back-up my largest content produced on my iPhone to the cloud. I should also be able to set profiles for how I want a phone to behave in certain situations, like a lecture or a movie theatre. Dumb phones have had this feature for a decade now and I'm sure Apple could do it in a more intelligent way if they invested time into the feature.
  • OTA Patches: Not Over The Air Updates, but OTA patches. I'd rather not have to download the whole ROM for the system whenever the iDevice needs to be updated.
  • In-App Purchases Hosted By Apple: Shockingly, despite having to give 30% of revenue from In-App purchases to Apple, developers still have to host that content themselves. This often means a developer has less money to host those purchases on proper CDNs and the user experience becomes inconsistent between purchases.
Regarding A Filesystem on iOS
I also don't think there should be a file system on the iPhone like on the Mac. All documents should be kept in a universal pool with support for versioning of each document available via iCloud. Each app should have access to the document types it chooses to handle. Documents can be found by search and each app can keep it's own list of "Favourite" documents which it can cache locally.

How Do I Come To My Conclusions?
My wishlist is driven purely by observing strangers who are new to iDevices attempt to set them up, and conversations with long time users of iPhones who have never explored further into the iPhone than the SMS app.

I also notice that people seem to lose there phones A LOT. So I wonder what information is commonly lost when the average iPhone user loses their phone and how can we prevent that by combining the strength of a single-log-on setup and Cloud support in the background.


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