6 Features that iOS Needs from Windows 8
Regardless of how you feel about Windows, Microsoft, and Apple competition, you have to admit there are some good ideas shown in the first look at Windows 8. Here are six features that I think look promising enough that the iPhone and iPad would benefit from including too:
1) App Activity Overview from a Start Screen
In Windows 8, unlocking the screen brings you to a quick overview of app notifications and their updates. New emails, updates from your social network, upcoming calendar events, your investments, updated weather (I really wish the stagnant iOS weather icon updated the temperature), tweets, and a few other things. Contrast this to unlocking the screen on an iPad or iPhone, where you’re instantly shown all your apps and you have to dive into them to find out what your new emails are, what the weather is, whats on your calendar, etc. Again, this could be resolved in iOS 5, but I think it would be nice to have an overview screen like this.
2) File System Browser on a Touch Screen
Windows 8 lets you use a simplified touch accessible file system to go through all your documents, pictures, music, videos, and other files in one central location. Many people think iOS and iPad benefits from not having access to a file system, but I think it’s actually needed at some level so you can access created documents from other apps. Why can’t I open a document typed up in iA Writer in Pages app? That’s frustrating, access to a file system in iOS would allow this and much more. Here’s what the touch file system looks like in Windows 8:
3) Side-by-side Display of Open Apps
Multitasking is great, but if you want to transcribe information from one app to another, it’s impossible to do this quickly on an iPad or iPhone. This is one of the main productivity boosts you get with dual-displays on a desktop, and iOS would greatly benefit from this feature. Sure, with Mac OS X you can just resize apps to be side-by-side, but it’s not perfect either, which is why apps like Divvy are so popular. The good news? Reviewing the Win 8 demo, John Gruber of DaringFireball seems to suggest this feature could come to iOS.
4) Better Use of the Lock Screen
This is probably going to be addressed in iOS 5 with a revamped notifications and widget system, but until it’s official I am going to complain about the wasted space of iOS lock screens. Microsoft has found a happy medium here, it still serves as a picture frame of sorts, but it also displays the date, time, events, your instant message counts, and email notifications. If you ask me, these things are important to display on a lock screen.
5) Split QWERTY Keyboard for Touch Typing on Tablets
If you’ve ever held an iPad in vertical orientation and tried to type on the keyboard with your thumbs you know it’s not the easiest thing in the world. Microsoft has found a crafty way to address this by splitting the keyboard into two parts on both sides of the screen, easily accessible to your thumbs. This is a great idea and the iPad would benefit from this as an input option.
6) Full Featured Touch Weather App & Updating Weather Widget
This is simple but it’s been a widely criticized complaint about the iOS ecosystem. Why doesn’t the iOS weather icon update the conditions? And why has nobody released a good weather app? The Apple offering for iPhone and iPod touch is good, but it’s too simple, and the iPad is lacking a good weather app completely. I’d change the tiles, but otherwise I like the look of Windows 8’s weather app and an iOS developer should take this idea and run with it:
These are the six things that stood out at me from the Windows 8 video that iOS could add or improve on. Remember that iOS 5 will be shown next week at WWDC, so much of this could be addressed then, so stay tuned.