Missing iOS Features

Missing iOS Features

11/23/10

Since Macworld posted a list which virtually overlaps nowhere (except for an option to mark all mail as read), I thought it would be interesting to mention my biggest gripes with iOS 4.2.

Allow JavaScript execution

All right, I get the “no interpreted code” rule but this really hurts because of web browsers. No web browser is complete without a JavaScript engine. If MobileSafari gets it, why not the competitors? Opera Mini does its way around this limitation by executing JavaScript on its own servers and then displaying the result. But really, c’mon. By not allowing competing web browsers onto their platform, Apple is going way farther than Microsoft ever did and they were fined for it. If that’s what it takes to change Apple’s mind then so be it. I just want my Fennec on my iPad.

Better handling of scrollable inner content in MobileSafari

Speaking of MobileSafari: the way it handles scrollable content inside the page boundaries (either when using iframes, the object tag or other elements with an overflow) is really laughable. I get the idea: expand all elements so that they don’t scrol and only scroll the outmost container, the page itself. But this is executed like a bad hack and breaks terribly if web sites rely on containers with overflowing content having a certain size. Overflowing containers can be forced to scroll in MobileSafari but then they have to be scrolled using a (very precise) two-finger scrol which nobody will get since there are no scroll bars anywhere on the scrollable element.

Something else is also horribly broken in MobileSafari: absolute positionion. I won’t go into the details since they are well-documented elsewhere.

Better support for Bluetooth standards

iOS could easily support the full file exchange protocol with browsing: just display as folders the name of all the apps which enabled the iTunes file sharing flag and allow Bluetooth to browse their Documents directory contents and upload/download files.

Also, it would be great if tethering and syncing worked more along the lines of the Bluetooth specification: Apple has benefited the longest time from handset manufacturers implementing these protocols according to specifications so people could use them on a Mac with iSync and Internet Connect so it would be only fair to repay the favour and implement these things according to published specifications instead of doing vendor lock-in.

Programmatic access to the phone audio in/out

This always seemed to me a very obvious omission: apps like SonicVox or Voices would be a lot more useful fun if they could be used while a call was active, modifying the audio stream between caller and callee. I also envision recording calls, playing music to the person you’re talking to, allowing apps to take calls from certain phone numbers or after a certain number of unanswered rings…

Tethering

I’m not talking about using my iPhone’s internet connection with my laptop, I’m talking about using my iPhone’s internet connection with my iPad. Should be an easy fix but it’s probably not going to happen since it would:

Still, I hope to be surprised.

AirPlay to the old Apple TV

Again, my request is a modest one: I don’t need to stream video, just being able to stream audio would be fine. Why can iOS stream audio perfectly well to AirPort Express base stations without them needing a firmware update or anything of the sort but not to the old Apple TV which pretty much used to work – in terms of AirTunes streaming – exactly the way these base stations did?

And speaking of AirPlay: i want to be able to stream just the audio of a video to the new Apple TV. This works fine when streaming to AirPort Express base stations so it should work as well when streaming to video-capable receivers. The solution to this problem, however, is twofold: Firstly, a UI has to be invented for choosing wether to stream just audio or audio/video combined and secondly, streaming audio to the Apple TV should work even when no HDMI device is connected but just an optical audio out cable. There is a workaround for the first problem: lock the iPad while the video is playing, resume it from the lock screen and then choose to stream the audio to the Apple TV, then unlock the device and resume watching. This will, however, not work when the TV isn’t on since that severs the HDMI connection which lets the Apple TV mark it as „HDCP non-compliant“ which in turn refuses the streaming even if it’s only audio which would go unprotected through the optical audio port anyway. Aargh, damn content-protection mechanisms: always making consumer’s life’s harder when getting stuff legally…

Arrow keys on the on-screen keyboard

Escpecially when the text-insertion cursor is only one character off, being able to move it instead of setting it (a process which is both tedious ans well as time-consuming), would be very welcome.


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