December 13, 2012, 3:49 PM — Nothing's perfect, and operating systems are no exception.
Now, don't mistake my complaints about iOS 6 for complete dissatisfaction: After all, I still choose to use the OS. Its flaws haven't yet driven me into the arms of Android- or Windows-powered devices. But there's no reason I can't maintain my love for iOS even while noting some of its rougher edges.
Many of the things that bug me about iOS 6 are longstanding weaknesses--some even date back to the first incarnation of the iPhone. More than a few I've complained about before.
I realize that building a great touch-based operating system is hard. It presents challenges that are wildly different from those posed by keyboard- and mouse-drived operating systems. While Apple should be proud of what it's accomplished with iOS, the company now needs to focus not just on shiny new features, but on improving some of the system's core foundational elements as well.
Tough Text Selection
Highlighting text in iBooks is a pleasure: You just swipe your finger over the text you're after. But when it comes to selecting text in other apps, you tap, you hold, you use the magnification loupe, and--almost inevitably--you futz around a bit. It's worst on the iPhone, but it's troublesome on the iPad, as well.
Some apps have attempted to improve matters by implementing the so-called Hooper Selection concept, where swiping across the on-screen keyboard can move the cursor and select text with broader, less precise gestures. Obviously, though, text selection is an issue that Apple needs to solve across the board.
And the problem isn't simply the difficulty of highlighting the exact text you're after. In certain apps--particularly Safari--highlighting specific bits of text takes many times longer than it would on the Mac, because layout and rendering issues make it hard for the mobile browser to figure out precisely which text you want to highlight.
Copying and pasting, currently accessed through contextual popover menus that appear more or less on demand, may be a little easier to improve than text selection. Much of the copy-and-paste process likely feels fiddly because of the issues with text selection. Still, I'd love to see Apple further improve the current implementation, which has never seemed particularly natural.
Home sweet home screen
Apple's approach to the iOS home screen is dated. The trusty icon grid worked well enough in the days before the App Store debuted, but it's time for an overhaul.