New software for the last few WWDCs have focused heavily on the iPhone. This makes sense, because the iPhone is such a huge part of Apple’s business. But, there are a few other devices that need some love.
iPads got a little love last year with split screen multitasking, but I think it needs to go further. Don’t get me wrong. Multitasking on the iPad Pro has fundamentally changed the way I use my iPad in so many ways. But, can we talk about this:
The UI for multitasking needs to be thrown out and rewritten. When I open the picker in the right pane, I see three giant icons of the most recent apps that I used right pane. If I enter the system multitasker, both panes go away and I see the last couple apps I used in either pane. If I switch to a different app that I previously used full screen, it will pop into the left pane of multitasking, but if I switch from a full screen app to an app that I was previously multitasking with, it goes to full screen, not the split view. It’s maddening.
There is a 80% chance that when I open an app from the app switcher, I will have no fucking idea where it will appear.
I made that quote up, but I’m sure it can be attributed to most iPad power users. There are a lot of ways to fix this, but I think the folks over at MacStories have one of the best ideas:
Fixing multitasking, and adding a split screen keyboard back to the iPad Pro would go a long way towards making it an even more powerful computer.
The 4th generation AppleTV came out of the gate screaming. A lot of big media companies, including the one I work for, came out of the gate with innovative new streaming video apps with different interfaces, motion graphics, and OS integration including voice search.
Then everything kinda stopped. Most apps haven’t had meaningful upgrades, Apple has really slowed down the universal search integrations, and things are kind of stale.
I’m a very casual gamer, and I have a few games on the AppleTV, but I rarely play them. To me, the AppleTV is best for watching stuff. I use Netflix and Plex by far the most. I have cable and a big DVR, so most streaming apps are more pain than they’re worth for me. A few quick things I’d like to see updated:
- The universal search works well for those companies blessed by Apple. Open up the search API to everyone, including your own App Store. Currently, voice search works in the App Store, but if you use universal search (the Siri button on the remote) from the home screen and search for “Pac Man 256”, you just get an “I can’t find that” message.
- Release the new iOS remote app, please. We all know it’s coming.
- Fix the home screen. Folders are dumb on a tv.
- Add a “program guide”. All the major apps have live streams. If my cable box from 1998 could figure out what’s on when, and show me in a grid, so can the AppleTV. But only for the apps I have installed.
- Universal watch list. It would be nice if I could go through all my apps and add to a universal watch list for video-on-demand. Let’s add an episode of Daredevil from Netflix, a quick Archer from Hulu, and a movie from HBOGO into a central list. I’m even fine with apps switching back and forth as videos change, but a continuous stream would be nice.
- Why in the holy hell is a TV interface all white? Seriously, people watch this in a dark room and white backgrounds are just designers being dicks.
- Universal login. I can log into Twitter on my phone, in settings, and when something needs my Twitter login, I see a dialog that says “Do you want to use your Twitter credentials?”. Do this on the AppleTV for my cable company. I know it’ll take integrations from the cable companies, or at least Adobe Pass, but easier logins to all the apps will give them more streaming hours and ad views, so everybody wins.
I love my watch. I use it constantly, every day. Notifications, health tracking, triaging email as it comes in, creating text notes, locking my computer, walking directions, and a ton of other stuff just works better (for me) on the watch.
But a lot of things are horrible.
- The app screen of little round icons is useless, for the most part. I use it to launch an app once in a while (mostly at the gym to start workouts with Gymaholic), but otherwise there’s no organization, no way to control where new apps show up, and things seem to rearrange themselves on their own. I don’t know if a grid is better, but the honeycomb is awful.
- It’s slow to sync. I’m one of those idiots who actually use the Watch as a little iPod, but 8 hours to sync a playlist is too slow. If it’s on the charger, use wifi to sync. I get that Bluetooth is better for battery, but the Watch only syncs on the charger, so fire up the wifi.
- Custom watch faces. Android has them. Pebble has them. They’re obviously very popular, even though most of them are terrible and probably infringe on trademarks in the case of sports teams and designer watch face tributes, but app review can fix that.
I already wrote about home stuff, so there’s not much more to say here. I just think it’s important to remember that Apple does have a home platform that is supposed to integrate with iOS and Mac that currently does so on the most rudimentary level.
I only pick apart this stuff because I am a user. If I didn’t use this stuff every day for work and play, I wouldn’t care so much. Everything works pretty well right now, but it can always be better, and that’s why nerds like me have so much to say leading up to WWDC.