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iOS 8 changes we'd like to see: Safari

Dan Frakes | May 26, 2014
Though the mobile version of Safari has improveddramatically over the past couple versions of iOS, we use it so frequently that its flaws, however minor, stand out.

We'd like to see OS X's print-to-PDF feature, whole hog, in iOS. When you tap the Print button in any share sheet, you should get the option to save the current document or webpage as a PDF file.

Of course, letting us save to PDF would require someplace to put those PDFs, which leads us to...

Let us download and manage files

In many ways, Mobile Safari is a full-featured browser that compares favorably to its desktop sibling. That is, until you need to download data. If you're downloading a PDF document, Safari can display it in the browser window, and you can then use iOS's Open With feature to send the PDF to a more-powerful PDF-handling app such as GoodReader. But for pretty much any other kind of file, tapping a download link leaves you staring at the screen, wondering why nothing is happening.

There are actually two issues at play here. The first is that Safari simply doesn't attempt to download most types of data. The second is that even if it could download files, there's no place for Safari to save those files — iOS doesn't have a Downloads folder like OS X does. We suspect that the latter issue is a big reason for the former. Which means that in order for Safari to support downloads, iOS must provide a place for downloaded data to go and — more important — for users to be able to browse and manage those files. (We'll have more to say on this topic next week when we cover our wish list for general iOS improvements.)

Tweak full-screen mode on the iPhone and iPod touch

The auto-full-screen mode on Apple's smaller iOS devices has its advantages — it's nice to get a bit more screen real estate while viewing a webpage. But it's also confusing: More than a few less-tech-savvy friends and family have asked us why their search/address field and toolbar have disappeared, and wondered how to get it back. Even among those of us who know Mobile Safari well, the feature feels fiddly, and it can be annoying to have to scroll up a webpage to access toolbar buttons. (We also don't like that you now have to tap the top of the screen twice, instead of iOS 6's once, to quickly scroll to the top of a webpage: once to reveal the address field and toolbar, and another to scroll.)

We're not exactly sure what the best alternative would be. A number of readers, and some Macworld staffers, have suggested simply adding a full-screen-mode toggle button. That would, of course, take screen space away from the webpage-viewing area. But maybe a few buttons isn't such a bad thing — Apple's recent penchant for hiding interface elements doesn't always result in the most usable UI.

 

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