Stock Apps Revisited

Don't get me wrong, I love iOS. But, what I love about iOS is not Apple's apps. I love the ecosystem, I love the hardware, I love a lot about it. That said, with how little a lot of the stock apps have changed some 3rd party developers have been able to outplay Apple on their own platform. I'm hoping that iOS7 will bring the kind of change to stock applications that will make me want to spend more time with them. Maybe calendar or reminders will warrant a second glance. Obviously, everyone will want to spend some real time with the final product before any real judgments are made. But for the time being, lets take a look at some of Apple's apps in iOS6 that really deserve their refresh and why.


I can't honestly say that I harbor as much hate for Apple's Mail app as the rest of the Internet seems to. It's never seemed like an egregious offender in terms of design but its never really shined either. For the most part, I think people are just bored with Mail. I'm guilty of it too, I run my email through Mailbox instead. And, while I love the inbox zero focus of Mailbox, I use it primarily just because it looks and feels nice. Although we've yet to see what iOS7's Mail will look like on the iPad, the iPhone version looks pretty slick. Swipe gestures and minimalistic design are all I need to put Mail back on my home screen.


I'm a Chrome user. Most of my friends and family are Chrome users. Chances are, if you're reading this tech blog, you're a Chrome user too. Chrome for Mac and PC is hands down my favorite desktop browser. And, because I want cloud tabs, bookmarks, and passwords, I'm a mobile Chrome user as well. But If we want to speak objectively, it's undeniable that Safari is the fastest browser on iOS. Safari handles bookmarks much better than most browsers and its reader mode is simply beautiful. I'm a huge fan of Pocket, but Reading List is still a huge draw to Safari. With a little makeover, a new keychain to save my passwords, and a new tabs interface, I might just be willing to give up cloud tabs in exchange for the fantastic browsing experience of Safari on iOS7.


I've never really gotten into calendar based planning. Largely I tend to stick to my to do lists. The main thing that kept things this way was not a lack of interest in calendar apps but rather the horrible aesthetic of the Calendars app. Silly, I know, but every time I open it up to punch in a doctors appointment or a birthday I can't help but feel like I'm looking into some nightmare landscape of skeuomorphism rivaled only by the Contacts app on iPad. Based on the calendars shown off during the keynote and early builds of iOS7, the new design feels much more in line with my sensibilities. I'm excited to give it a shot. Maybe iOS7 will make calendars a bigger part of my day to day.



Various todo list apps have been the bane of my existence for far too long. Yes, I'm picky. But is it really so unreasonable to ask for reliable cloud synchronizing, multiple lists, universal support, strong UI design, due dates, reminders, start dates, notes, desktop access, and Siri support...? Maybe a little. After my criteria is met, my options have so far been limited to Wunderlist and Omnifocus. Both of which I love for different reasons but when it comes down to it, Reminders is just a few minor features off from being the best and most well integrated option. The main problems with Reminders stem from its aesthetic and application feel. It's cumbersome and inefficient compared to its alternatives. I'll have to see how Apple treats the iPad version but I really do want to love Reminders. We'll see how this one shakes out.

Game Center

As someone who uses their iPad as their primary computer and, thus, primary gaming device, the changes to Game Center couldn't be more appreciated. If you've followed me on Twitter for any period of time, the chances are you've heard me complaining about iOS's need for scrolling folders. While scrolling folders would be nice everywhere, whenever I say it I say it because I have too many games. I like to have a library, a collection I can reference and browse. The changes to Game Center make it exactly that. If, instead of opening and closing my numerous games folders, I can simply swipe through my games library, I'll be set for life. 


I've never actively disliked Messages. I guess I'd describe it as being entirely inoffensive. But after spending a week using exclusively Google Hangouts, Messages simply feels old. Based on preview coverages, Messages won't be shaking up the formula too much but even a palate swap might be enough to get me to spend some more time with it. Obviously, SMS and adoption rates are the two big problems with 3rd party messaging apps. Any excuse to return to the universally accepted iMessage is welcome. I just hope they can hold my attention.

Apple's Downloadable Apps

I spend more time in Apple's non-stock apps than just about anything else. I read daily in iBooks, I subscribe to over 60 shows in podcasts, I edit in iPhoto, and I do 95% of my writing in Pages for iPad. We all saw that iBooks has received an update for iOS7 but what Apple plans to do with the rest of their downloadable apps is unclear. Podcasts just received a Jonny Ive sanctioned update not but a few months ago so another redesign feels unlikely. But, hey, fingers crossed.

I didn't really care about the possibilities of a system refresh before WWDC. Now, everything feels old and crying over my iPad as I type this with a non-translucent on-screen keyboard. Maybe they need to make up for the unmemorable feature set of iOS6, maybe Scott Forstall really was holding back aesthetic design. Whatever the reason, Apple felt like now was the time to refresh, I'm glad they did. 

Oh, and an honorable mention to Passbook which I'm sure will look prettier but still be worthless to me for everything but buying Starbucks.  

Written by Samuel Strickland