iOS is arguably the most sophisticated, seasoned mobile operating system available today. Love it or hate it, we are currently running the ninth version iOS–and there are no signs of slowing down any time soon. Apple has approached updates to iOS with the “slow and steady” mindset. There has never been a silver bullet update to end all updates, and I’m ok with that–mostly. It’s hard to be patient, especially when there are whispers each year of purported upgrades, and new features planned for iOS. One thing we can count on, though–Apple won’t release/introduce a new feature unless it’s ready for primetime. This can be frustrating at times, especially when we crave the next big thing. However, in the end, the user experience is king regardless of any features added to the latest version of iOS.
Over the years, one of the biggest enigmas with iOS has been the stale, unchanging home screen layout. The first screen we see when we power on our iPad’s and iPhone’s, is in need of major upgrade. The current layout has become boring and outdated. It’s true that many new iOS users may find comfort in knowing that a quick press of the home button will always bring them to the same screen _every_ time. But does this mean that this screen has to remain a boring grid of icons–even after 9 iterations of the OS? I say no, and it has never been more clear than after the introduction of the iPad Pro.
If it wasn’t already apparent the iPad Pro epitomizes just how antiquated the home screen has become. We saw a taste of this when the first iPad was released. Arguably, all that extra screen real-estate looked reminiscent of a blown up iPhone screen. Still–we accepted it, and found comfort in the familiarity of it all. All that went out the window for me when I saw the iPad Pro for the first time. What an amazing device, with enormous potential, handicapped by a now archaic grid of icons spread out to match the ratio of the larger, 12.9″ screen.
How does Apple make this right? Will they ever open the layout of their devices, especially larger screen iPad’s, so that users can personalize and/or manipulate the all-too-familiar grid of app icons? If past history is any indicator–probably not. So what can be done to revitalize their current approach? Perhaps to understand the dilemma, we need to focus on Apple’s decision to include a growing list of pre-loaded apps on each end every iOS device. Last count, that list now sits at an incredible 25 apps, with all but one (iCloud Drive) icon required to be on one of your iPad or iPhone home screens. At this point, most of us probably have a folder that serves as a depository for most of these unwanted apps. Wouldn’t it be nice if we had the choice of whether or not they were installed un the first place?
With iOS 9 the iPad has become a much more powerful device then ever before. Split screen apps, Slide Over, and Picture in Picture make true multitasking on the iPad available for the first time. I would like to see Apple transition some of that computing power to the home screen, and utilize the extra screen space, making it a more productive user experience. You can pick up an iPad Pro and take it where you need to go–just like with a laptop. But just like a laptop, the iPad Pro seems best served on a flat surface, where you are less likely to move around, and more likely to remain stationary. This is not a typical mobile device, so why handicap the interface or replicate the historical iOS interface? Dare I say, it’s time for a change–it’s time to “Think Different” once again.