The next iPad: Software changes we'd like to see


First and foremost, we'd love to see a basic version of user accounts that would allow each family member can have his or her own Safari bookmarks, e-mail accounts, and app settings. (Multiple Words With Friends accounts, anyone?) But we'd also like more flexibility when it comes to restrictions--for example, the ability to restrict access to specific apps besides Safari, YouTube, and iTunes, and to restrict in-app purchases on a per-app basis. And if we do get user accounts, we'd welcome better parental controls for Safari, Mail, and other apps, similar to the options Mac OS X provides.

: The iPad is an even better photo browser and presenter than the iPhone or iPod touch, but its beauty in this regard is only skin deep. We'd really like to be able to use our iPads to create albums, manage our library, and add metadata, then back up that data to a computer or use those changes for a true sync with iPhoto. A mobile, two-way-syncing version of iPhoto built into iOS would make both consumers and professional photographers quite happy.

: When you first start up your iPad, you have to connect it to your Mac or PC before you can use it. That made sense when Apple launched the device, since it was a totally new category at the time, but now that the iPad is firmly embedded in the consciousness of the masses, it may be a good opportunity to let the tablet become self-sufficient--not dependent on the conduit that is iTunes. If the iPad really is the future of computing, it needs to be able to pave its own way. Like a fledgling bird, it's time for the iPad to leave the nest and prove that it can fly.

As much as we'd like the company to, Apple won't make all of these changes to the iPad's software--it may not even make any of them. But there's no question that the folks from Cupertino know the stakes: New iPad hardware is only half the battle. As nice as more RAM and a faster processor are, it'll be doubly good to harness those resources into providing an even better experience for iPad users--and that's all about software.