iOS 5 predictions, revisited!

Being the hopeless romantic I am, I wrote about one of the bigger loves of my life on Valentine’s day, expecting iOS 5 to be announced in March in a manner consistent with the previous iOSes.  Alas, Apple had far too many things on their plate (like another iPad and such) to introduce iOS 5 in the spring, so it’s getting announced on Monday (yay!!!!).  I’m going to officially lay out my predictions for iOS 5:

Revamped Notifications System

A no-brainer for sure. The modal-only notification system of iOS has been the Achilles heel since v1.0.  It started off innocuous enough, but then when push notifications came (for realsies) in iOS 3 and every app thought it would be cute if they used them (kind of like how every Windows app thinks it’s worthy of a taskbar icon, which I admit the only Windows app I have developed is guilty of just that) then it got really really unwieldy. Nothing worse than watching a movie or playing a game to be suddenly interrupted by an SMS. There has got to be a less obtrusive notifications system, and on that note, one that lets you get multiple messages, VMs and calls while away and lets you come back to a nice list of them all instead of a bunch of modal popups that are behind one another.

New Home Screen with Widgets and such

File this one under “probably.” The array of apps, bookmarks and folders of the above that can’t be arranged in a non-grid fashion and can’t have gaps is long overdue for a makeover.  Not just because of the lack of appeal, but because there are great opportunities for cool widgets that display information without needing an app to be launched. Having access to vital information at a glance is kind of the point of having a smartphone, no?

Better Developer-y stuff

I feel like in 2011, it’s time to get that ObjC garbage collection rolling. Managing your own memory simply isn’t something that we should care about in this century, and any overhead incurred by the garbage collector is more than likely going to be offset by the improved memory footprint of apps, especially when most of the apps are made by developers with little ObjC experience and don’t know fully understand memory management.

And while we’re at it, let’s get rich text editing in our text controls. Apple implemented such controls for its iWork apps, which was presumably a guinea pig for what would be to come for the rest of iOS (though some of the intrepid developers have gone through the trouble of implementing their own).

This is kind of user facing, too, but we could certainly use a central storage place in iPhone to store and save files.

Sync, Wireless

MobileMe was a great first step, but I’m ready for some real wireless syncing (a.k.a. not having to plug my phone into my computer EVER). My Mac can install OS updates on its own over the air, why can’t iPhone?  I can wirelessly send files from one Mac to the other, why not iPhone? Regardless of what cloud solutions Apple comes out with, Bonjour syncing with iTunes may as well be a reality now.

Apps that auto-update are probably going to become a thing in iOS 5, though opening the App Store app every few days to update isn’t that hard; just annoying.

In February I predicted the ability for apps to download updated content in the background like the Messages app and Mail app get to do. Though it isn’t a highly demanded feature, I hope Apple throws it into the SDK.  That’s the kind of thing that will make the phone feel a lot faster and really improve the user experience. This is something that Android has always offered and it never caused much of an issue.

I also wouldn’t be surprised if AirPlay got a few new features. It’s great right now but it’s mostly just the quiet brilliant feature in the room. Perhaps an announcement of partnerships with more companies that will implement it?


If this becomes a thing, it’s going to be one of those predictions I made out of left field and will be really proud of because it wasn’t part of the rumor mill rotation.  Services are great in OS X, but they’ve always felt a little ahead of their time and a bit neglected (though they got revisited in a big way in Snow Leopard). Services is the kind of feature that just makes perfect sense in iOS, and it would offer a level of extensibility and cross-app communication that otherwise might have required a lot of coding.

Personal assisting

Apple bought Siri some time ago for their talent. I’m really looking forward to see what becomes of that.


My predictions are largely consistent with what they were in February. I think iOS 5 is going to be a little bit more feature-filled than other iOS updates because of the length of time between releases, but I do want to be a bit reserved in my expectations, as Apple tries to be conservative in their adding of features.

We’ll see how I did on Monday!

One response to “iOS 5 predictions, revisited!”

  1. Matt says:

    Wireless sync would be awesome. I already love the fact that I can manually download new podcasts from itunes directly, but syncing “for realsies” wirelessy would be great. On auto-updating apps, I hope that’s optional, because in a year I’ve never once felt squeezed by only having the 200 MB data plan, and a bunch of app downloads over 3G would probably change that.

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