Our Apple wish list for the coming 12 months

As a new year dawns, we’re taking stock of where Apple is today – and where we’d like it to be. This feature explores products we’d love to see from the company, as well as broader approaches it could take during this year.

We’ve avoided the obvious. Take it as read we’re excited about the next flagship iPhone and Apple Watch. Our choices instead come at Apple from a slightly different angle. Yet if they were implemented, they’d make for a better 2023 for Apple and users alike.

An iPhone SE that isn’t huge

iPhones XS, SE (3rd-gen), mini, and SE (1st-gen.)

iPhones XS, SE (3rd-gen), mini, and SE (1st-gen.)

Earlier this year, we said the iPhone SE was boring, but Apple had prioritized the right things. 2023 will see a fourth iteration of the affordable handset that combines old designs with modern innards. But rumors suggest the iPhone XR will be its foundation. It was too much to hope that the next iPhone SE would be an iPhone mini in all but name – but we still hope for a more pocketable form factor than the XR.

A fully independent Apple Watch

We last year spent a day attempting to simultaneously transition to a new iPhone and Apple Watch. It was horrible, because the Apple Watch remains linked to the iPhone in a manner that feels increasingly absurd. The Apple Watch has the App Store. It can connect to Wi-Fi and iCloud. Some models have cellular. Let the wearable optionally sync with an iPhone, but operate independently when it comes to set-up and data backup!

iPad coherence

iPad 10th gen

Lightning Pencil. USB-C port. Sigh.

It felt like the left hand hadn’t been talking to the right hand when Apple unveiled the late 2022 iPads. The 10th-gen iPad got a landscape FaceTime camera, but the iPad Pro didn’t. Yet the former was lumbered with a Lightning Apple Pencil, despite not having a Lightning port. And the new kickstand keyboard case inexplicably only works with this one iPad and not the similarly sized iPad Air and iPad Pro 11in. Less mess this year, please.

Passkeys everywhere

Passkeys will forever change how we interact with secure websites. Instead of you needing to remember or store passwords, passkeys use your device to prove you’re the owner of an account. This eradicates potential for phishing attacks. Apple is a board-level member of the FIDO Alliance, the body behind the system. In 2023, it must shout loudly and often about passkeys, using its considerable influence to encourage services and companies to get on board.

iCloud reliability

iCloud green lights

Even green lights don’t always mean good things.

A major problem in January 2022 caused iCloud sync to fail, resulting in apps not working – and even data loss for many users. Smaller problems throughout the year caused intermittent issues with iCloud Drive access and Photos sync. Given how important iCloud is to everything Apple does, it needs to be rock solid in 2023. Apple should also give users more insight into iCloud problems – and controls for when things aren’t working as expected.

Better dev relations

Apps make the iPhone what it is. And it’s often smaller ‘indie’ developers that create the most unique products. Yet in 2017, Apple wiped many great apps and games away during the 32-bit purge. Last year, Apple again began ‘delisting’ old apps. Developers were forced to waste time working on and submitting meaningless updates – although some popular apps were exempted. Apple needs a reset to stop indie dev relationships further souring, lest they abandon the platform, which would be to everyone’s detriment.

Streaming game services

Xbox Cloud Gaming web app

Xbox Cloud Gaming web app.

Imagine how absurd it would be if Apple demanded every TV show on Netflix be a standalone app. That’s how things are with streaming game services, which therefore avoid the App Store and stream through Safari instead. Apple’s attempts to defend its rules in this space don’t hold up, and you wonder if it’s more about not wanting competition for native games and Apple Arcade. Regardless, its stance holds back iPhone as a gaming platform. Apple should rethink in 2023.

Apple getting ahead of regulation

The EU and other territories have had enough of Apple and are starting to mandate in law what Apple refuses to do itself. Thus, it might be that by 2024, Apple will be dragged kicking and screaming to USB-C on iPhone, app sideloading, and external payments. Apple would do well to get ahead of the game, rather than coming across like it was in many cases forced into changes designed to increase competition and consumer choice.

No more skeevy ads

Gambling ad served on gambling addiction ad page

Image credit: Jon.

We recently wrote about ads infesting the App Store. In October 2022, a host of app creators suddenly discovered inappropriate gambling ads on their app pages. Those have since gone, but other ads remain. It feels wrong. Once with Apple, you were never the product – you were the customer. Now, Apple veers toward Google in how it operates. We hope in 2023 the company will shift back. Alas, with an eye on services revenue, it probably won’t.