I watched one preview video of the Lion feature set as it stands, and I was honestly quite impressed. Lion appears to be slowly merging iOS and OSX features together in a way that screams touch screen interfaces in the future. One could further speculate that Apple is slowly preparing OSX for an eventual complete merge with iOS. Or to put it another way, OSX may one day take over on devices like the iPad. This might not appear at first to really hold on all fronts; for one, the Mac App store goes against this idea.
What I imagine, however, is a unit like the Macbook Air fitted for touchscreen use (perhaps with a fully back-foldable screen) that could double as either a tablet or a laptop, depending on your needs. This isn't a new concept. However, Apple would be taking that concept onto a level where it truly works. At this point, you can fully appreciate the idea of the Mac App store. Putting out full-screen enabled apps that have a feel of iOS apps transitions the OSX platform in the direction of iOS. This enables you to have one half of the equation: the tablet. The other half of the equation is already well-supported, and that's the laptop paradigm. This idea isn't all that implausible when you look at a few factors. Firstly, the Macbook Air 11", as it stands, is only marginally thicker than iPad first gen when closed, and the weight is similar. Secondly, the Macbook Air has the quick on/off functionality found in iOS devices. Thirdly, the price point isn't that different (especially considering you get two devices in one). You can probably see where I'm going with this. Anyway, this is an exciting proposition when you consider the chances of it happening.
Let's move onto iOS5. There's obviously a lot of speculation and wishlisting going on right now around iOS5. The iPad2 has been getting some okay reviews, but I notice a trend. The most common points I've noticed in these reviews have been the following. The most common point has been advice to keep your current iPad (first gen) if you already have one, since the iPad 2 has been widely viewed as an evolutionary update. The second, and most valid point, is that the lukewarm reviews of the device concentrate on iOS itself. At this point, you could have the most sleek hardware with the best internals, but people will not get past the fact that the device feels like it did at the iPad first gen launch, and that is an iPod Touch XL. The phone operating system that they've been leaning on is simply not doing the device justice. And almost a year on, this is even moreso the case with tablets being launched by everyone and their dog. Although the iPad still has an ecosystem that beats all others and a way more fluid interface than it's competitors, it's being outstripped on simple usability. Sticking with the simple "lots of icons" approach isn't cutting it against Android's widgets. The multitasking implementation falls short of WebOS. Check any video of Windows Phone 7 and you'll see a really slick and user-friendly interface the people everywhere are talking about. And let's not even get into the alert dialogs. You can have all the apps in the world, but it doesn't help if your operating system interface feels oversimplified and archaic. Apple has always prided themselves on being the leader in the UI space and it just slipped behind pretty much everyone (including Windows) on this front, and that's something they have to be worried about. The snail pace development of iOS for iPad isn't too encouraging either. Small incremental fixes over the next few years at the pace they've happened up until now will leave the iPad interface in the dust.
I'll detail a few wishlist items I've seen so far and how realistic I think they are.
Wireless Sync - not out of the question, but I bet it'll be tied somehow to MobileMe.
Download Multiple Apps at a time - I'd rather have the app store not kick me back to springboard every time I download or update something to start with. Then let's talk about multiple app download. Anyway, I can't imagine this is high on the priority list - things work okay as it is.
Better Lock Screen - this is pretty much a must-have. Check the smart screen video on the above link to see how it should work. Even Nokia phones have this sort of thing. However, will Apple implement this? I doubt iOS 5.0 will have it.
iTunes from the Cloud - I think we'll see a big announcement about this likely at the September media event, since that's the time of the year that Apple likes to focus on music-related stuff. It'll be a selling point for the new iPod Touch, but it'll retroactively apply to iPad 2 and whatever the new iPhone is called. It's somewhat likely given Apple's acquisition of that technology quite a while ago.
Give the messaging system an overhaul - I'd really hope this happens and I consider this also a must-have item. However, they didn't acquire the resources to implement this all too long ago. Despite that, I'd say this has a pretty good chance of happening.
Some of this site's wishlist overlaps. There's no point in going over those a second time, so from here-on-in, I'll cover the unique items only.
Better organisation options for the UI - I feel this is a must-have also. This overlaps with widgets and the iPad iOS doesn't have some of the simple apps that iOS for the iPhone has, such as weather, stocks, clock, calculator, etc. One can only assume they plan on making widgets and some sort of either dashboard system or an actual configurable UI. I feel that something along these lines is possible in iOS5, but I feel that the development of this will be incremental, meaning we won't see a great deal of customizability from the get-go.
Flash Compatibility - no way in hell.
Game Center - this one talks about connecting Game Center with Facebook or Twitter. I kinda doubt it.
AirPrint - I can imagine Apple spending a bunch of resources improving this feature that 99% of us couldn't care less about. Very likely.
Syncing with Multiple Computers - This isn't really an iOS5 thing as much as it's an iTunes thing. I doubt that anyone would spend the money to try and fix that.
iMount - Turn your iPad/iPhone into a USB device? There's an app for that already.
FM Radio - Speculation that many of the devices have an FM radio that's already built in but not in use. Dunno, you'd figure they'd have added that app already, or if not, jailbreak would have. So not really plausible.
Improved Mail - flags and better attachment handling (I for one would like zip support). I can kinda see this happening, since Apple is trying to break the iPhone and iPad into the corporate space.
Customizable Multitasking Tray - this request touches on the, imo, single reason to jailbreak: SBSettings. I'd love that to be built in. I think this is remotely possible.
iOS Data Sharing - this is something I've been asking for. However, I feel that Apple wants to make people use MobileMe, so I have a feeling they'll implement it in that way if they do. Shame, really, since it would give great incentive for people with one device (e.g. iPad) to buy the other device (e.g. iPhone) for amazing interoperability and a true ecosystem of devices (akin to Airport Express, Apple TV, etc.) Who knows? Perhaps this would happen. It makes good business sense and creates additional brand stickiness.
Customizable default apps - I somehow can't see this happening. It does potentially open up security problems.
Editable Dictionary - Actually, I'd like this myself. Enter something wrong into autocorrect and you're stuck with it. However, I can't see this being a "wow" feature that they'd spend time resourcing over some other more pressing features.
I could continue - there are plenty of other iOS 5 wishlists on Google. However, I think these four covered a majority of the items you'll see. So what would I like to see? Check back on my older posts for a list, in addition to those I voted for here.
I'll try and keep my blog a bit more up-to-date once the busy times at work subside. I sold my iPad just over a week ago and I've been living without one until the iPad2 arrives here in Finland (if it does) next Friday. I will probably blog about life without an iPad pretty soon, since it has been a device I've come to depend upon and living without it has been, well... it sucks. More to come!