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WWDC23 Preview – what we want to see this year

From Apple’s take on cutting-edge tech to tiny changes that make a big difference

Apple’s developer conference, WWDC, returns on June 5–9, aiming to spread glee among the developers that make all the great apps and games you use daily. But for years now, WWDC has had a public side too, with keynotes beamed around the world, giving you a glimpse into the future of iPhone, iPad, Mac, Apple TV, and Apple Watch.

WWDC23 is being touted as an “exhilarating week of technology and community.” Here’s what we’re hoping Apple will reveal during the conference.

A headset with a reason to exist

Everyone knows Apple’s working on a mixed-reality headset. There’s a chance it will be revealed at WWDC, so developers have time to make apps for it. But the device itself is almost immaterial. This is Apple kit. We know it will be good. What we also need are use cases that go beyond making corporate executives happy. Well, that and a solution to stop your arms aching from being waved around for hours on end.

Apple’s take on AI

The other hot topic of the moment is AI. Which means systems helping you rapidly create anything from plans to images. Apple got a great headstart in Siri, but then stalled. Reports suggest turmoil in Apple’s ranks. Hopefully, WWDC will help settle where Apple’s heading in AI – and how the company will thoughtfully deal with privacy issues and concerns around accuracy.

Operating system parity

Apple’s stretched resources in recent years resulted in an operating system imbalance. And for multi-device users, it’s irksome when it takes a year for a feature to head to all of their kit, whether that’s something big like Home Screen widgets, or a smaller thing like App Library in the Dock. We’d like new features for iPhone at WWDC23 to immediately also be on iPad – and vice-versa.

A tamed Stage Manager

On to specific features now. Stage Manager for iPad was ambitious, attempting to create a new windowing model for iPad (and also Mac), along with bringing fuller external display support to Apple’s tablet. The snag: it’s a horrible mess. It’s confusing to use and inconsistent. No-one loves it, yet power users crave the kind of features it offers. Refinement at WWDC23 would be good.

Stage Manager

Stage Manager is still a mess in iPadOS 16.

Smarter use of big iPhone screens

It’s easy to forget big iPhones once had a landscape mode, making great use of their screen acres. Well, apart from when the keyboard rose and took up over half the screen. That was weird. But it’d be great to see Apple – which now has iPhones with even bigger screens – revisit this feature, and perhaps throw in two-app iPhone multitasking too. After all, those Android folks already have that.

More ways to improve health

Rumors are rattling around that Apple will add a journalling app to iPhone, designed for tracking your personal well-being. Plenty of third-party apps exist for this, but we’re not going to say no to Apple integrating its own take. Also, Health needs to go wider and not just be on iPhone – an iPad Health app is long overdue.

More flexibility and freedom

In iOS 16, Apple took tentative steps to allow a modicum of Home Screen customization. At WWDC23, we’d like to see more of that, from visual personalization options through to deciding on the actions buttons perform. Ideally, Home Screen widgets should expand to become interactive. And sideloading? Please don’t restrict that to where it’s legally mandated, Apple. That’s a bad look.

Delta for iPhone

In iOS 17, you might not need Delta to sideload apps… if you’re in the EU.

A removable Home indicator

OK, we’re just dreaming now. But, Apple, I think people know they need to swipe the bottom of the screen to perform actions, yet this bar intrudes on immersive experiences such as gaming. Please let people finally turn the thing off, even if you bury the option deep in Settings.