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The MacStories Team: What We Want from WWDC 2011

WWDC 2011 starts in two days, and all of us have our own hopes to be crushed, wishes to be granted, and features to drool over once we finally see Lion, iOS 5, and iCloud in action. We've all got something we want most out of the upcoming announcements, whether it be iOS compatibility with AirDrop, or seamless iOS updates through iOS 5, and we've decided to publish our wants from Apple's big three for your viewing pleasure. In return, we expect you guys to tell us in the comments what you want to see on Monday. In the meantime, we'll get the ball rolling!

Federico

I have played with Lion since the first developer preview, and I like the direction Apple is taking with its next desktop OS. Before the first DP was seeded, I was hoping for a more revolutionary Finder and file system -- instead all we got was a refreshed UI and a new "All Files" tab that I've never really used and I'm not sure I'm going to once the big cat hits stable version. However, I can see why Apple decided to implement such a functionality for average users.

Overall, I'm hoping the WWDC keynote and GM build will bring some last-minute new functionalities and updates such as AirDrop working with iOS devices (perhaps even over iCloud, though that sounds unlikely for now), a major reconsideration of the iCal UI (again, unlikely -- yet I'm still hoping for the iCal seen in DP 1), Twitter integration in the OS X Address Book and a brand new iTunes featuring a shiny iCloud tab in the sidebar. Other minor things I'd like to see in Lion this summer include direct USB or wireless access to iOS devices from the Finder, and an overhauled Back to my Mac with support for iCloud and, yes, the iPad.

Chris

Lion - we know it's coming out this summer, so I think we'll see a GM build revealed during the WWDC keynote. I have yet to use Lion but I have been very impressed with what I have seen and read so far. There hasn't been an update lately so this may coincide with a GM release. I hope they have fixed the ugly user interface design of iCal, as I am not a fan of it at all. With the rumors of the Twitter API being built into iOS5, I hope to see something similar in OS X Lion as well. When Lion is ready, I believe it will be available via the Mac App Store, or a USB restore key like the latest MacBook Air -- that would be really, really nice to have. Last, since Snow Leopard was priced at $29, I'm hoping Apple will steer away from $99 - maybe around $59 for a Lion with (my last wish) deep iCloud integration.

Cody

Having just purchased an SSD, the only thing I really want from Lion is TRIM support. Being an avid user of Spaces, I'm extremely happy with how it's integrated with Mission Control; it's a downright sexy solution to the 9 x 9 grid I've configured for my Mac. But like Chris, I am concerned about apps like the Address Book and iCal perhaps being too realistic: the metaphors that feel appropriate for the iPad don't yet feel fit for the Desktop.

Graham

From what was revealed last year in the ‘Back to the Mac’ event and what is evident in the developer previews, I am pretty content with what Lion is doing. So there really isn’t much that I want, which isn’t already included. I’d be happy with some deep iCloud integration (see my iCloud section for more on this) and for it be really solid in terms of performance.

Oh, and I really hope Apple follows their pricing from Snow Leopard, selling Lion for $29.

Federico

There's so much I'd like to see in iOS 5, yet I don't think Apple is going to revolutionize the OS as much as I (and Apple fans in general) would like to. What I really want from iOS 5 is better notification management and filtering, though that's pretty much a given at this point as everyone wants better notifications. So I'm going to quickly focus on things that would meet my own personal expectations: first off, a better way to share files between iOS and OS X. Using third-party apps is annoying, you always have to find the right app to share a specific type of document and, at the moment of writing this, I have three apps installed on my iPhone only to quickly share text, photos and videos between iOS and Mac. Apple needs to enable this by default, perhaps with AirDrop in Lion, perhaps with iCloud remotely.

Second, I need a better Mail app. On the iPhone the software's already pretty solid, but I'd like to see vertical panes on the iPad (look at webOS and the TouchPad) as well as an overall deeper integration with Gmail -- native priority inbox and Google shortcuts would be great. On the Springboard's side, I don't care about dynamic icons and widgets as much as I want to be able to move multiple icons at once (seriously, it's been three years Apple) and put more stuff into a folder. I'd also like to see the status bar becoming more than a simple aggregator of system icons like battery and WiFi -- I don't see Apple developing something like SBSettings, but WiFi controls from the status bar would be an awesome addition to iOS.

As for iCloud: instead of having a plethora of separate apps like Apple did with MobileMe (iDisk, Gallery, etc), I'd like to see a single iCloud app collecting all the functions Apple has been working on, plus a new "iCloud" tab in the iPod.app to play music stored on Apple's servers.

Chris

So many things to hope and wish for for Apple's next mobile operating system. The first thing that comes to everyone's mind are notifications, Apple has to improve on these for iOS 5. Last June, Apple hired Rich Dellinger, the webOS notification UI designer and now there is news that they also hired Peter Hajas, a jailbreak developer who made MobileNotifier for Cydia. Not only would I like to see a better design and method for iOS notifications, but Apple could also have a built-in Boxcar-like iOS app that stores our notifications and displays them in a more organized fashion.

Second, Apple has to do more with the lock screen. Date and time are important, but adding other elements would really make the lock screen shine. I'd like to see Calendar events, a better notification list, and a weather forecast. Other UI touches could be having 5 apps in the dock and a more refined folder view that holds more apps (by flicking to reveal more). Another thing I would like to see in iOS 5 is a repurposed Spotlight -- I really only use it for the Address Book or "Search Web" feature, but Apple could build in the calculator function like its OS X counterpart. Game Center could be improved as well: I don't care for the felt poker table look of the app's UI, I would really like to see iOS save game data from device to device so you can play a Universal game on one device, then continue later on another device.

Last, I think the Settings could also be improved: WiFi & Bluetooth preferences should be easier to access and switch off/on.

Cody

I could beat a dead horse by saying I want better notifications, but it was MG Siegler who made an intriguing statement about iOS 5 having "widgets". Personally I don't want widgets, nor would I use them. If we look at the widgets available on the OS X Dashboard, not many of them are very good, and it's much harder for Apple to control the appearance of a widget on an iPhone than it is to control the shape and size of an icon. Apple just needs to animate the damn weather icon already. Otherwise, I'd like to install iOS without the Mac, and for Apple to bring an AirPort Utility app to iOS 5 at some point.

Graham

I love the direction that Windows Phone 7 went in, innovating in ways different to iOS and Android and I think overall it was a good strategy. Now in iOS 5, I hope Apple has taken note of some of the better ideas and built them into iOS 5. There are the little things like a simple gesture on the lock screen to quickly take photos (I already use a jailbreak tweak called Snappy to do just this) and then there are the bigger ideas like Hubs. The Photos app is what could benefit the most from this: currently I find it dreadfully underwhelming, but add some Facebook integration and it instantly becomes much better.

But my biggest hope is that they adopt the idea of tiles that give users information, not just be a door into an app. I think this approach would be better than adopting widgets, which I think would make the Home Screen too busy. Rather, I'd like app icons to have the ability to change (think the Calendar app) and the obvious advantages would (initially) be Weather and RSS apps. I'm one of those people that likes to know the weather but only at the level of whether it's going to rain and how hot it will be, and at the moment it is just too much effort to remember to open up an app to find that information out. I wish I could just glance at my home screen and look at the icon to find that information out, and then if I want, dive into the app for more details and a forecast.

Moving on to notifications, all I have to say is Apple needs to radically overhaul the system. I currently use the popular jailbreak tweak, MobileNotifier, and it is brilliant. I want notifications to be less intrusive, be able to review those that I have dismissed, use the lock screen to list notifications and send text messages without having to jump into the Messages app.

Some final hopes for iOS 5 include iPhoto for the iPad, automatic app updates and the ability to install apps remotely from iTunes (i.e. no tethered sync required).

Federico

Here's what I hope iCloud will look like: rather than massively overhauling its online services and even discontinuing some of them, I wish Apple will make most of MobileMe's current features free (calendar, mail, bookmark sync, file manager) and charge an annual fee for the new iCloud music aspect. Basic iCloud functionality with access to your iTunes-purchased tracks on Apple's servers could come at $29.99 per year, whilst most advanced features like uploading (for as much as I have terrible upload speeds) and "song mirroring" like Rdio or Lala could be available at $49.99 per year. So at this point, we have all users getting must-have options like email and sync for free, and two different tiers for music. Then, Apple could have one last $99/year tier for an all-inclusive package that gives you all the free features, music uploading / remote iTunes Store/ iTunes scanning and a music subscription. Like Spotify, the music subscription will give you access to millions of songs you don't own, with possibility to stream them / cache them on your Macs and iOS devices. Speaking of iOS and OS X, I hope Apple will revamp iDisk's file access and make it more similar to Dropbox (especially when it comes to speed) and offer native integration in iTunes/iPod.app for streaming music stored in iCloud. For developers, I hope Apple will offer an API to sync app data across devices without using Dropbox or other third-party solutions.

I don't think TV shows and movies will be part of iCloud's initial rollout, but then again Apple could simply give you access to movies you've already bought in iTunes by looking at your recent purchase history.

Chris

Apple told us iCloud is coming, and now we're all guessing what it will be. Many think it's one more Apple service to accompany MobileMe, whilst others think it's the next evolution of MobileMe. At first I thought iCloud was going to be another service that you had to pay for, but now I'm thinking it is the new MobileMe. Apple likes to rename this service - remember iTools & .Mac? MobileMe is essentially a sync service for Apple users, and iCloud will be the Power-Up Mushroom to the existing MobileMe. I hope iCloud is for more than just music though - it may start as music-only but I wish Apple's longterm plan is to include video as well. The iCloud service should scan and find your existing iTunes music library so no uploading is required, and you will be able to access your songs anywhere via iCloud. Remember, Apple did buy and shut down lala.com and still has nothing to show for it.

I hope Apple doesn't limit iCloud music to be tracks purchased only from the iTunes Music Store - I wouldn't have much. I don't see Apple giving up on Ping either: I'm sure Ping and iCloud will work together in musical harmony.

Cody

Having a massive music library and the worst upload speed in America, does Apple really expect me to upload over 100 GB over a period of months to the cloud? As a competitor to Amazon and Google, I'm hoping it will be different than generic online storage. What I want is for Apple to just scan my library (like Rdio does) and give me access to those songs in the cloud, but the first signs point to "no". My only concern is with media since SSDs are expensive, storage space is limited, and I want my music library everywhere.

Graham

I'm really interested to see where Apple goes with iCloud and whether they manage to pull it off. My hope is that it deals with file management and that it revolutionizes iTunes. In terms of file management, I hope it resembles other online services like SugarSync (which I currently use and love) and Dropbox. I would be extremely happy if iCloud could backup all my documents and then sync them across all my computers and devices. Then iOS developers could have the ability to hook in your iCloud, accessing and even editing files. Working on an iPad, in particular, would become that much easier with no more requirement to manually sync to transfer files or use a third party service like DropDAV.

Then on the media side my ultimate hope (this is probably way too much to ask for) is that everything in iTunes at the moment (think Music, TV, Movies and Books) moves to the cloud. Not in the sense that I have to stream everything, but in the sense that syncing my devices is no longer required. Rather, my iPhone and iPad will look to iCloud and if I had purchased a book from iBooks, it will automatically download it to them. I don't want iTunes on my Mac to be a hub that all my devices have to hook into, I want iCloud to be that hub.

As for the music service, I'm really not fussed if it goes towards Spotify (subscription fee for unlimited music) or if it goes towards Amazon's Cloud Player (storage for your purchased music). However, I would really love it if Apple offers a subscription service for unlimited Movies and TV shows - yes, I want Apple to compete with Netflix. But above all, I want all of this to work in Australia - like many non-US folks, there is no music subscription service or Netflix offering for me, and I badly want something like it.

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