I hope Apple gets back to basics in iOS 6, or: A list of what’s broken in Apple’s most important OS

iOS has come quite a ways since its humble beginning in 2007, when it had very few background tasks, no folders, no Air-anything, no games, no Notification Center (or notifications), and of course, no (sanctioned) way to add new native apps. Apple has added quite a few welcome features over the years, but a number of them feel… incomplete.

Surely, you will be inundated with “new features I’d like to see in iOS 6” lists between now and when Apple finally relents and previews the next iteration of its most significant OS ever. I want to take a different approach and focus on the features that have felt broken, or at least unfinished, since their release.

In Lion, Apple went “Back to the Mac”—or as I called it in my Macworld analysis, “back to basics”. While we’re only five years into iOS, I think it could use some of the same attention in iOS 6:

Photos is broken

The Camera Roll is a mess and Photo Stream is its drunk, belligerent cousin that just came out of the woodwork. Yes, even after 5.1. We need a way to take iOS screenshots that don’t pollute our Apple TV screensavers. We need to be able to actually move photos to albums so they disappear from the Camera Roll.

We need control over default apps

Safari, Mail, Calendars, Contacts, and Twitter are great, but so are plenty of other apps. It was time for Apple to let us pick our own default apps when it launched the App Store in 2008, and it’s still time in 2012.

I’m old ‘nuff paw, promise

Warnings about an app’s content need to stop, and I’m plenty old enough to stop them. I couldn’t care less if a big bad app is going to expose me to the big, bad internet. I’m 31, not 13, and I don’t and won’t have kids—give me a mechanism to prove it and turn off those godforsaken warnings in iTunes and on my devices.

Something, something, homescreen, folders

Besides the arrival of folders in 2010 with iOS 4, homescreen management hasn’t really changed since iPhone OS 1.0. I have 172 apps on my iPhone, and while I’m sure that’s on the high end, I’m also sure I’m not the only one who feels that iOS’s options for managing all this could use… something. Whether it’s a new perk or two or a complete rewrite from byte one, I just hope Apple’s engineers are way ahead of me here.

Easier toggles

Sometimes you just gotta turn stuff like WiFi, Bluetooth, Personal Hotspot, and your VPN off. Or on. And it’s always been a pain in the ass in iOS. Maybe they can become buttons at the top or bottom of Notification Center, maybe they can show up as homescreen widgets. They just need to show up.

Restore from iCloud

Backing up to iCloud is awesome. Restoring from it sucks, primarily because you can only do it after a full restore, and then, only for your entire device. If apps actually work with iCloud for storage, they’ll just pull down all your documents the next time you delete and restore those apps (or, at worst, they’ll prompt you to do so). But we need a way to restore files from our iCloud backups for apps that aren’t (and, for whatever reason, may never be) actually using iCloud file storage without having to lobotomize our devices.

AirDrop for iOS

There’s no easy way to send a document or photo from one iOS (or, really, any) device to another without signing up with some service, some ToS, some middle man that uses the internet (and no, Bluetooth file transfer doesn’t quite cut it). Apple applied an arguably post-PC solution to this problem in OS X by introducing AirDrop with Lion. AirDrop sure would make a good bullet item for iOS 6, and perhaps a great addition next to the “Open In” action arrow option.