Two OS Feature Conceptualizations I Woke Up With This Morning

/ 10 November 2012

Shortly after waking up this morning I came up with two conceptual ideas for sensible additions to both iOS and OS X (one for each OS) and wanted to record them here.

OS X: Siri

In OS X Mountain Lion Apple introduced Dictation, which as some know is, since its identical to the iOS dictation, backed by Siri. Siri itself is admittedly more useful, I think even without using it, on an iPhone than either an iPad (where in fact I can use Siri) or would be on a Mac. On the other hand, it would be a logical progression to have OS X 10.9 include the full Siri assistant. But how would one include it, interface-wise? I first thought, well obviously using the same shortcut that Dictation uses. But then both you will not have access to it when the focus is on a text view (like typing this in MarsEdit) and it would show up as a floating window above the center of your screen or something. It was after realizing this that the idea struck me, the closest thing to Siri in OS X today is Spotlight, so why wouldn’t it be in the Spotlight menu, there as the bulk of the menu before typing any search terms (at which point it would disappear to allow room for the search results as is the case today)? The below image is a rough sketching of what this may look like, though the color of the Siri part of the menu would probably be blue or white and the iOS home screen would not be behind it. The system could even listen for commands immediately, and only if you begin typing decide you’re there for the “classic” Spotlight functionality instead of the Siri assistant. Will this be a feature in OS X 10.9? None of us can know at this early month, but this is one way the basic Siri interface could be logically integrated into an existing OS feature.


iOS: Preferred WiFi Networks

This is harder to visualize in a sketch so there will be no second screenshot below. In OS X you can prioritize WiFi networks so that if more than one known network is present you will connect to the one higher in the list. This is useful if certain networks have some resources tied to them (printers, iOS syncing, etc.) while others are larger, public, networks that indeed you connect to in other locations. This becomes the case for me here at CSB/SJU in my dorm room. Sometimes it is only when trying to wirelessly sync my iPhone or iPad that I realize it is still on the institutional WiFi and my private WiFi network. What if in the WiFi settings there was the standard Edit button? When clicked the list of existing networks would become able to get reorganized and include networks not currently present but previously connected to. Reordering the networks would give the ones at the top priority over those lower down. So with my example the private network would always get reconnected to despite the other network that was more recently connected to being available as well. This seems a lot less likely to be an iOS 7 feature than Siri is for OS X 10.9 because it is more confusing, but would have some technical advantages for WiFi connectivity of our mobile devices.