Recently, I stated my predictions for 2012. Here, I provide my wish list. The difference is simple: In my earlier column, I predicted things that have not happened yet. However, for this list, I wish for things to be fixed or for things that would make a good extension to something that's already in the market.
I wish that Microsoft would alter the search algorithm in Outlook so that it would quickly return the first 10 results and then ask if you want more. As people accumulate tens of thousands of emails in their Outlook Inbox, the current search algorithm attempts to search the entire folder. This wastes the user's time, as 90 percent of the time the answer is contained in the most recent instances. I also wish that Microsoft would improve the Boolean search process by providing a wizard to make it easy to search for the occurrence of two or more things together ("and") or to search for either one ("or").
And, while I'm discussing Outlook, Microsoft should improve the search capability in Contacts. What's needed is a contact form in which the user would put the search criteria, making it easier to find entries that match. For example, if I enter "212" in the current search, Outlook returns all entries that contain "212," whereas if I were given a form, I could write "212" in the telephone field to retrieve those who live in New York. I could do the same thing with a ZIP code or city or company. And I could easily enter such things as "Between 3000 and 4000 ZIP codes" or "Area codes 404, 678 and 770" to find people in the Atlanta area.
I wish that Apple would fix iCloud so that it would sync with Outlook's primary Calendar and Contacts instead of setting up a separate sync folder.
I wish that Apple and Google would add software that allows a user, when he or she has an incoming call, to select an option to automatically call the person back. Then, the person calling would get a text message saying: "My iPhone will call you back as soon as I get off this call."
I wish that Apple would fix the problem of word wrap and text sizing in HTML email. Many emails are not automatically resized, which requires the user to expand the image but then slide the image on the display left and right to read the message.
I wish that Microsoft would create a version of Office Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook and OneNote for Apple's iOS and Android. Microsoft has already demonstrated Windows operating on the ARM architecture, so doing the same thing for iOS and Android would seem technically possible. The company has made a lot of money from porting Office to the Mac platform, and it would stand to make a lot more money porting Office to iOS and Android.
I wish that Google would add more enterprise services to Android, including support for automatically synchronizing Android to Outlook right out of the box.
I wish that Microsoft would add Tabs for each email account so that users could easily switch from one email account to the other. This would allow you to see an integrated inbox as it is provided today, but also allow for Tabs across the top to show an individual Inbox for each email account. It would also make it easier to select which signature should be used when hitting Reply.
I wish that Research In Motion would bite the bullet and adopt Android as its smartphone operating system. The company has lots of problems right now. Simplifying on an open OS like Android would reduce the risk for RIM going forward. It would also allow RIM to focus on the services it needs to provide rather than be diverted by the myriad issues relating to the underlying OS. BlackBerry could then mean something wonderful on top of Android, much like what Amazon has achieved.
I wish that Apple would develop a really sophisticated and easy-to-use wizard to port a Windows laptop environment to Mac. It's not easy to transfer your operating environment from Windows to a Mac. I know firsthand as I've found it difficult in a number of areas. For example, Windows allows you to store photos in different folders, whereas in the Mac, photos are all stored in a single pool and then albums are created that allow you to view a subset of the pool. Same for music.
I wish that someone would come along and do something spectacular with webOS. It's a fine mobile operating system, but Hewlett-Packard's various and confusing decisions about its fate seem to mean that it will gather dust on the open-source shelf.
I wish everyone a productive and fulfilling 2012.