iOS: UI could use improvement

Whenever I am at school, I see iPhones. Sure, there are a smattering of HTC Androids, some Samsung Androids, and probably due to my proximity to Redmond, nearly an equal amount of Samsung Windows Phones. But for the most part, the dominant phone (besides random feature phones common in teens without jobs or money) is the iPhone. For good reason too: if somebody was to ask me what cell phone they should buy, I would recommend the iPhone 9 out of 10 times, because personal preference notwithstanding, it is fairly intuitive, generally gets the newest/most popular apps first, and most people I know have a general sense of familiarity with it. Until recently, I would have even described it as an attractive UI. However, a tandem of experiences have led me to reconsider that opinion. Here are the changes I would make to iOS to reclaim a leading position in UI against Windows Phone and Ice Cream Sandwich.

The first is the application dock: 2012-05-18t17-29-30_0_medium

The dock reminds me too much of Aero. And not in a good way: what inspired this post was the, in my opinion, welcome changes coming in Windows 8 desktop interface. Just as Metro clashes with the glassy look, the otherwise rounded edges of iOS look completely separated from the dock. Furthermore, the dock does not serve any purpose until you start to use three or more home screens worth of apps, and until then seems like it is simply there to fill space. In OSX, it serves its purpose well, and the apps for the most part are not curved rectangles, so there is not the contrast here. Honestly, as far as I can tell, the only real justifiable reason for the dock is for jailbreaking customization. I understand the intent of providing a bridge between the phone and the desktop, but those are two separate paradigms that do not need to be combined (mind you, this is subjective, and I feel the same way about Launchpad. YMMV). Somethings do not need to be on phones, like recycling bins.

My solution:


An omnipresent, modified multitasking widget. Instead of switching between all your apps (which are already available from the homescreen, it would show your four most recently used apps (as multitasking's first pane already does), with a swipe to the right revealing music settings (including modified ones for music applications). The biggest change is that a swipe to the right would allow for rapid network changing. A button would toggle between data and wifi, and a menu would be available for switching between networks. I made this mock up in two minutes using paint, so hopefully it would look better than that. A subjective improvement: a choice in textures other than the current fabric.

The second would be the difficulty of moving an app from one page to another. I am an anomaly, but it took me 18 months to find out that you can move which page an app is on without utilizing the dock. Still, I think that it would be more accessible if you could drag an app to one of the page indicator dots near the bottom of the home screen and release, sending that app to the page that matches the dot you dropped it on.

The third change that would majorly improve iOS in my opinion would be a consistent app interface. ICS has holo, and WP has metro. Change just for change is worthless, but I think it would be neat if each app had a consistent feel, so that it is not as big of a jump when multitasking. Additionally, I feel that the ability to choose what color the title is between apps would give more of a personality to it (much like the color themes in WP), so that at least in the core apps you do not see a rotation between blue, grey, and green.

For now, these are the only UI improvements I can think of, other than a total redesign of iOS, which is almost certainly not going to occur, widgets which Apple does not really have a taste for, and a weather app which actually changes on the home screen.

Oh, and mobile flash. /s

But I am interested to hear what others think about my ideas, and what your ideas are about how to improve the iOS UI. With Android with the capabilities of iOS, and Windows Phone being IMO more attractive and nearing at least hardware parity with WP8, I cannot think of anything that would compel me to change my phone to an iPhone with my next upgrade other than intuitive UI changes.