Article: Wanted: 5 Under-the-Radar Features in iOS 5

by on May 12, 2011

Sure, we all want better notifications, wireless syncing, cloud services, lock screen information, etc. in iOS 5. Fifty percent of that wish-list might come true. But what about those “under the radar” features that also makes life on your iOS device easier. Putting a call on hold, orientation locking, photo-sizing when emailing, support for bluetooth keyboards, and web searching from spotlight, were smaller features in iOS4 that make a world of difference. So, here are the five “under the radar” features I want from iOS 5.

5. Easy Podcast Updating

To be honest, this is one of the only reasons I plug my iPhone 4 into my computer. Updating podcasts on iTunes couldn’t be easier. Open iTunes, select Podcasts on the left menu, hit refresh and watch all 26 podcasts search for updates. In iOS however, this process would be tedious and time consuming. To update just one podcast on my iPhone, I have to launch the iPod app, select the podcast I want to update, select “Get More Episodes,” which then launches the iTunes app on my iPhone, just to see if there is an new episode. Imagine having to do this 25 more times.

A simple “pull down to refresh” and a few additional settings in the iPod menu would make this process infinitely more efficient.

4. Better Camera App

The number (and popularity) of photo apps in the App Store just demonstrates how capable of a camera the iPhone has, and also how users are striving for more. Now, I’m not advocating for filters or effects or pro tools, but I would like to see the following from my camera app. (1) It has to open faster – I miss way too many photo opportunities when trying to use the iOS camera app. (2) The ability to take successive shots at once. (3) Simple cropping and (4) a built in QR reader would be wonderful.

All really simple things that would cut about 4 apps from my phone.

3. Better Mail

Mail on the Mac is awesome. Stationery templates, awesome! “To Do” and preferences galore. Mail on the iPhone? Not so much. Stationery? Nope. Custom fonts like the “Notes” app? Nope. Images or formatting with signatures? Not a chance.

There are a lot of things I like about Mail for the iPhone, and it is just a phone after all (so certain standards must be adhered to), but I find myself using my iPhone for email so much, that it would be nice if it came with some more “fluffy” features. Plus, doesn’t Apple relish the opportunity to establish new standards?

2. Safari Reader

Retina Display makes reading on the iPhone 4 infinitely better than on any other mobile device. Unfortunately, unless your news website has a mobile version, a lot of precious screen real estate is lost. Safari on you Mac makes this easy. Simply navigate to the article you want to read, hit the “Reader” button in the address bar and all videos, annoying flash content, and ads fade away and make room for the content.

It would be nice if Mobile Safari would work the same way. Just navigate to the article, hit the menu button at the bottom (the one that has “Add Bookmark” and “Print” among others) and select “Reader.” Everything would fade away leaving nothing but the article.

Mobile websites kind of do this (arguably), but what’s the point of having a browser capable of a full, web-rich experience if I have to spend my day surfing mobile sites.

1. Social Media Done Right

I hate to say it, but Windows Phone 7 does this right – and they might even do it better after acquiring Skype. The nice thing about Windows Phone 7 is that I can look at a contact, and see all of their information and Facebook, Twitter, etc. updates right from one window.

In iOS, if I want to know more about Eric, I have to open one app to find his contact info, another app to see his tweets, another app to see his Facebook status and photos, and yet other apps still to see other social media information.

Now, don’t get me wrong, there is absolutely a lot to dislike about Windows Phone 7, but their philosophy of spending less time digging through the phone for relevant information to me is appealing.

So, there are my five. What under the radar features are you looking for?

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