It’s getting to the end of 2018, and I am excited looking ahead to 2019. This point in the year is when I start thinking forward to what the next round of iOS updates will bring to my day job and my computing life. I am likely looking at purchasing 250 of whatever non-pro iPad Apple releases in the spring, so I am starting to consider what software these devices will be running soon after school starts. Based on rumors we’ve heard for a while, iOS 13 looks to be an “iPad focused” release, so I am expecting big things. When I think about my current challenges with iOS and iOS device management, here are some items on my iOS 13 wishlist.
About Making The Grade: Every Saturday, Bradley Chambers publishes a new article about Apple in education. He has been managing Apple devices in an education environment since 2009. Through his experience deploying and managing 100s of Macs and 100s of iPads, Bradley will highlight ways in which Apple’s products work at scale, stories from the trenches of IT management, and ways Apple could improve its products for students.
Improved Text Selection
One of the most infuriating things on iOS compared to macOS is text selection. With the precision of a mouse/trackpad, I can easily select the text that I want on macOS. On iOS, it’s incredibly tedious. If I need to choose one word, I am fine. If I need to select a sentence or phrase, it can take forever to find the right combination to be able to grab it. In iOS 13, I’d love to see Apple rethink how text selection works to make it more accurate.
True Dual Monitor Support
While you can plug the iPad into a projector or TV, we still don’t have true dual monitor support. The 2018 iPad Pro brought a few new features (editing bay for iMovie as an example), but I’d love to see dual monitor support expanded.
I want to be able to have separate apps open on a 2nd screen that I can interact with. Adding this feature requires some rethinking with input methods on iOS as most external displays don’t support touch. For me to go iPad-only, this feature would be an essential addition as I prefer to have dual monitors when I am at my desk.
AirPrint is a technology that doesn’t get talked about a lot anymore, but I still use and rely on it. In the early days of AirPrint, the technology was limited to consumer grade printers. Over time, enterprise-grade multi-function printers have added it. In the interim, we had used a solution called Printopia as a workaround.
AirPrint is reliable at this point, but it hasn’t evolved as it should have. Compared to built-in drivers on a Mac, it’s still limited in what it can access. I’d love to see two things come to AirPrint. The first is I’d like to see an API for printer vendors to be able to build out additional functionality to match what is in their native driver. While this does open Apple up to relying on these manufacturers to enhanced functionality, a basic printer would still always be there.
The second aspect of AirPrint I’d like to see upgraded is the ability to control what features of a printer an iPad can use. We have color printers, and students have the option to print in color. I want to be able to control (from my mobile device management system) what options they can use.
Ability to Disable Accessibility Settings
This feature request is a simple one, but I know people who manage iPads in K–12 settings will understand what I am talking about. Students have a way of enabling various aspects of accessibility to “be cute.” It then becomes a trouble ticket for IT departments as they have to get ahold of the iPad to disable it. If I know that a subset of iPads won’t use accessibility, I’d like to be able to disable the feature altogether.
On another note, the iPad doesn’t get enough credit for how much it does in this area. I highly recommend you check out the Accessible Podcast to learn more.
Desktop class Safari
I’ve written about this multiple times, so I won’t recap it in much depth (read my past writing on this here). The version of Safari on iPad needs to be able to access the full web. With many software as a service solutions, iPad apps are often just blown up iPhone versions. I want to access everything on the web. Even if the only app I want to use on my iPad is Safari, it should work well.
Here’s what the iPads needs: a desktop version of Safari with external trackpad support. Yes, Mobile Safari has a “Request Desktop” mode. There are plenty of websites that completely ignore that request, though. Even for the ones that don’t, many of the designs and navigations are built for a mouse pointer. The iPad already has external keyboard support and an external trackpad support would go a long way to making the iPad a Mac replacement.
Imagine being able to work in a native WordPress or Squarespace interface on an iPad with an external keyboard and trackpad? Imagine being able to use the full web version of Google Docs instead of the sub-par iPad apps? Imagine being able to do precise text selection on an iPad. This is what the iPad needs software wise. While touch-based interfaces have brought a lot of great innovations, I still struggle, ergonomically, to use them for hours as a time.
Record FaceTime Audio calls
A long-standing frustration for podcasters is the inability to do dual recording (your local microphone and using a communications app like Skype or FaceTime). An ideal solution would allow users to record FaceTime Audio calls, and then enable recording tracks separate in an app like GarageBand. Adding this feature alongside Logic Pro for iPad would be an ideal way to show off how the iPad is evolving.
Dual Audio Output
This feature doesn’t have anything to do with the iPad, but rather something for all the parents who are reading this article. My kids have taken over Apple Music on the way to school, but there are plenty of times when I’d love to get in a few minutes of a podcast or audiobook while they jam out to the Teen Titans Go soundtrack. I want to be able to put 1 AirPod in and listen to Overcast while Apple Music is playing to my car stereo.
The original files app has served us well for a few years, but it needs to be refreshed on the iPad. The user interface needs to feel like its something only the iPad can do vs. a blown up version the iPhone app.
I am not sure what I am wanting here, but something that allows me to perform more tasks in bulk would be ideal. I’m not asking for a direct recreation of macOS’ Finder on iOS, but something that allows me to operate at the same speed. The management of files is something that I am much faster at on macOS than I am on iOS.
Wrap Up on iOS 13 Wishlist
What features did I miss? Where does iOS need to evolve to allow you to use it more? I love iOS, and I want to be able to use it full-time, but there are places where I still struggle. These features would go a long way to making iOS more enjoyable to me in my job as an IT administrator and also an iPad and iPhone user.