Tech Posts

Irritations with iOS5

Firstly, I realise that I’m about to complain. I also realise that I don’t dislike iOS 5 at all. I’ve been using iOS 5 for two days now. I am impressed with many of the new features. But at least two of them, discussed below, stop short of being brilliant. I’m not an iOS developer, I know fairly little about how these things work, but this is how I think things should work… in my corner of the universe.

The Reminders app is something that I’ve been waiting for. Even highly rated apps such as “Wunderlist” have their limitations (my biggest gripe is that you have to open the app to update the badge telling you how far behind on things to do you are!). So an app built into the iOS ecosystem should be able to deliver where so many fail.

  • Geolocation is an interesting concept. The notion that geolocations are stored in an address book is a little strange. At first, I thought I’d tapped the wrong button to get into the address book. I wanted a map! After being told that the entry for School didn’t have a street address, I edited it and tried again. It complained again, despite showing the address in the entry! After attempt 4 it picked up that there was an address, but then claimed it couldn’t find the location. Which is odd, because I assume that they would use Google to do it, and Google can find the address without a problem. Clearly there are issues with the South African addresses. I am told that I will be reminded of an event when I leave Gauteng, South Africa – although the fence is a little narrower than the provincial borders, so it all works out ok, if I need to use
  • The next issue is that after not being able to find the address, why not give the option of using a map to find it? Show me a map and I’ll point to it – is it that hard?
  • Today, I needed to remember to phone someone. I had a missed call. I didn’t have time there and then to “slide-to-call” from the lock screen, but it would be nice to be able to set a reminder that is linked to a contact for the purposes of phoning them, so when the reminder pops up in your notifications bar, you can slide-to-call them then. When I leave work, I should phone the restaurant to confirm our reservation. I know I can set the reminder to do that, but I then end up digging around in the address book – make the process simple for me, please.
  • My last suggestion for improvement of the Reminders app is to include personal geolocation a-la the friend finder app. I would like to be able to say “when I see John, don’t forget to tell him xyz”. Because I am scatterbrained like that.

The integration of iMessage with Messaging and the automatic transition from one medium to the other, depending on whether the other recipient is iOS5 enabled or not is elegance and simplicity like no other. A few suggestions, then, for improvement:

  • iPads and iPods don’t have cell numbers and so any conversation that was started on a phone by selecting someone else’s number instead of an e-mail address won’t be mirrored on the other devices. Surely these numbers and addresses are associated with the same Apple ID? Is is really so hard to unify the experience? My phone ends up with two conversations – one from a number and one from an e-mail address. I consider this a bug, frankly, and look forward to seeing it fixed! (Scoff, as if).
  • Open up the messaging interface for other protocols. If my contact has a Google Talk account, a WhatsApp number or any other such IM service, why can’t these be integrated into the Messages app who could broadcast the message to all services and then, depending on where the reply comes from, use that service to continue the conversation. Or set a preferred service for a contact. I can then set all of my BlackBerry friends who have WhatsApp to use that protocol instead. One could even use e-mail as a messaging protocol for those contacts who have no other way of communicating. I’ll leave the techical issues of how that gets separated from normal mail to someone cleverer and more inspired than me, but I’m sure with some hidden email headers, such incoming messages could be intercepted from the Mail app and displayed in the Messages app. I think that this would be a winner. Now, I have to decide whether to use Skype, IM+, WhatsApp or Messages depending on who I want to talk to. It’s a little too human-thinking intensive for my liking. If all we ever needed was SMS and iMessage, then we’d be fine. But in SA especially, the BB population is not going away and we’d like an easy and cheap way to talk to those guys too, assuming that their devices are working.

OK, that’s all for now.

Oh, one other minor thing which is a problem on other phones too: please let me display some emergency contact details on my lock screen so that people who don’t have my PIN, but who find me lying unconscious next to my phone, can at least phone someone who cares. My phone has a PIN lock and I don’t think I’m willing to compromise on that. But apart from a sojourn into PhotoShop to create a background with some “ICE” information on to use as a lock sceen is painful. Especially when you want to change your lock screen…

I am also aware that no-one has any reason to listen to me.