Getting a reliable fast connection is probably the number one feature I want in iOS 9. As Apple has shown with their highlighting of problems that you didn’t know that you had (e.g. the way that you type due to the spring machinery on your laptop), they love to go into the details to polish their products.
I was excited back in the iOS 7 era when we saw that Siri seemed to be toying with Multipath TCP which aims to bring sanity to your network, especially in a mobile world where you move through highly variable cell networks and WiFi networks all day long.
iOS 7 was some time ago and I wouldn’t say that Siri seems more reliable than anything else, but I really hope that the work is ironing out and working well in a pre-iOS 9 release somewhere in Cupertino.
If anything the need in 2015 has gotten more stark. There is a real blurring of cellular and WiFi and many of us find ourselves on WiFi networks more often than before.
To Xfinity and Beyond
You may have heard the bruhaha that occured when Comcast made their customers Xfinity modems public wifi hotspots (for other customers).
I have found myself often surprised to see my phone connected to Wifi, and it being due to it finding xfinitywifi. The connections have often been pretty good, but many of them poor, probably because I am on the edge.
As we get more WiFi networks popping up like this it will be critical for the devices to be smart about making the use of them and augmenting the cell network to great effect.
Users shouldn’t have to think about the network as often as they do today. It feels like the details are placed front and center in an experience far more often than I would like.
Some examples of this are:
August: Choosing how you want to connect to a peripheral
The August lock started its life as a bluetooth tethered lock. They recently added an external device called the Connect that lets you talk to the lock remotely. This allows you to unlock the door from anywhere with a connection for example, which is a key feature.
You find the implementation is wanting though. When you launch the application you have to choose the remote connection to switch to that mode. Why bother me with the details? Work out the best (or only) way to connect!
Duolingo: Let me learn offline
Offline first is an ideal experience if you can pull it off. When I use Duolingo, I wish that it would work better offline. I would hope that it would batch a daily goal number of modules type solution so no matter what I can get enough done to meet my goal no matter the connection.
Ideally, I would be able to go further and also manually grab more materials for offline processing.
In other ways Duolingo does a good job of dealing with a variable network. I like how it does quick checks on answers and also talks to the server, and if it can’t get a nice specific helpful answer when you get a translation wrong it will give you something more generic.
Overcast: Start as soon as you can
I enjoy Overcast as a much better application than the built-in Podcasts app. One area that drives me nuts though is when I want to play some content that isn’t downloaded. The application sucks down the entire file before letting me play via streaming. I understand that there are features in Overcast that muck with the audio (taking out blank space etc), but I would love to make the time from tap to play as fast as possible.
iTunes: Let me download content over the cellular connection
It infuriates me when I am told “sorry, because you are on a cell connection we won’t let you download this data”.
I can turn my phone into a WiFi hotspot and download it from my computer but you won’t let me download it right here? Argh!
There is room for us all to enhance the experience of our applications as we take into account the variable nature of a mobile world. I look forward to a world wide ubiquity network that is always perfect, but in the meantime I will take the pragmatic wins!