iOS Users Beg Apple: Set Our iPhones & iPads Free!

We're still weeks away from Apple's World Wide Developers Conference (WWDC) on June 10-14, but one thing's for sure: Plenty of iPhone and iPad users are hoping for a fresh design and a more open, customizable experience. 

Last week, ReadWrite asked our esteemed readers what you're hoping to see in iOS 7The two biggest take-aways:

  1. ReadWrite readers want iOS to be more customizable.
  2. ReadWrite readers would really like Android-style widgets on their iPhone and iPads.

(Before we go any further, though, let's be totally clear: These results are not statistically representative of iOS users generally, but they do illuminate what many ReadWrite readers would like to see in iOS7.)

Make iOS More Customizable

When asked if iOS should open up and become more customizable, almost two thirds (64%) of respondents said Yes. Just 28% - less than a third - thought Apple should retain its strict, top-down control because this is how the company ensures a bulletproof user experience. 

That justification might be historically true, but it's becoming harder for Apple to ignore just how effectively Google is managing to catch up in terms of Android's UX design, while not sacrificing the flexibility Android has traditionally granted its users. For years, Apple fans could laugh off Android as a rusty, imperfect copycat with a lot of growing to do. And they were mostly right.

But grown it has, and now Android is a more potent competitor to iOS than ever. With its chief competitor offering a far more customizable experience, Apple faces growing pressure to loosen its grip on iOS and give more control to its users. There's no guarantee that Apple will do that (and even if it does, the changes will no doubt be gradual), but the user demand seems clear. 

No Wonder Jailbreaking iOS Is So Popular 

This desire for greater control is exhibited in the growing popularity of jailbreaking - the unauthorized removal of Apple's limits on how people can use iOS. Even though there is no jailbreak available for the latest version of iOS, there are at least 30 million jailbroken iOS devices, according to Cydia creator Jay Freeman's website (Cydia is the "alternative to Apple's app store for 'jailbroken devices' "). Granted, that's a small percentage of the more than 500 million iOS devices Apple has sold to date, but the demand appears to be growing. When the evasi0n jailbreak tool for iOS 6 launched earlier this year, it was so popular that not only did people trying to access crash the site hosting it, but they crashed the Cydia app store and caused performance issues that lasted for days. With 7 million devices cracked in four days, evasi0n was the most popular iOS jailbreaking tool yet. 

Typically, when we write about the jailbreaking phenomenon here on ReadWrite, the chorus from Android-loving commenters is consistent: Google's mobile OS has been able to do XYZ for years, you doofus. Get a clue. Switch to Android. Snark aside, these folks have a point. Many of reasons people jailbreak their iPhones and iPads are indeed features that come natively on Android, or are at least a Google Play app download away.  

In our survey, ReadWrite asked readers to list the features they'd most like to see in iOS 7. The second most-used word in the responses was "customization." Other popular requests included improvements to iOS's multitasking, quicker access to settings, multiple user profiles and improvements to the Notification Center. 

Give Us Widgets Or Give Us Death!

Overall, the most commonly requested feature was the inclusion of widgets on the home screen. The use of icons displaying live data has long been familiar to users of other operating systems and has even found its way into at least one iOS 7 preview mockup. Apparently, lots of iOS users are sick of looking at the Weather app icon and seeing the same sun that's been shining since the iPhone first launched in 2007. 

In total, 734 people responded to our survey. Are these just a bunch of Android fans flooding our Poll Daddy widget with pro-Google sentiment? Hardly. Not only did we give Android die-hards a chance to reveal themselves in the first question, but 61% of responses were made from iOS devices. Another 13% came from Mac computers. 

Anything else you're dying to see in iOS 7 when it's announced next month? Let us know in the comments. 

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