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Apple WWDC 2024 wish list: what we want to see

From AI to RCS, these are the updates we want from Apple this year

Apple’s 2024 World Wide Developers Conference kicks off on June 10. As ever, the event is geared towards developers – the people who make the apps and games you love. But the keynote always reveals new features coming to your Apple devices later in the year, and so it’s worth watching.

Here are the themes we hope will shine through this year.

Make AI meaningful

Last year, Apple refused to utter the term ‘AI’, but it’s impossible to avoid now. There’s a perception Apple is behind in this race, with Google and Microsoft having their own models that are deployed online and within their own operating systems.

Rumors persist that Apple is exploring deals with these companies and building its own AI models. Either way, we hope Apple steps up with clear AI use cases, not just hype. We don’t need yet more over-promising, nor AI threatening the livelihood of creators – creators that for years sustained Apple.

Which use cases though? How about seamless in-app translation, lightning-fast accurate photo edits, and search summaries in Safari? And perhaps even a Siri that doesn’t just pawn you off to web searches when you ask a question?

Open up the App Store

The App Store’s under regulatory fire – and rightfully so. WWDC24 offers a chance for Apple to be proactive, relaxing policy rather than being forced into gradually doing so.

We’d like Apple to allow sideloading, and provide ways for iPhone and iPad to do more, so developers can create the kind of indispensable utilities you find on the Mac, from backup apps to window managers. Additionally, we hope Apple will allow more business models so developers could let people unlock apps via Patreon subscriptions, or rent-to-buy pricier products.

Above all, Apple must keep hold of developers and users by making changes that make the App Store better than alternatives, rather than because they have no choice. After all, assuming third-party app stores spread beyond the EU when regulators elsewhere bite, people soon will have a choice.

Bring flexibility to iPhone

App Library

App Library needs to be more readily accessible.

The iPhone is powerful but can feel rigid. So we’d like Apple to give it a flexibility upgrade. A two-up app view. Full external display support, so an iPhone can be your ‘everything’ computer. And a Home Screen revamp – which could include a landscape view for when your iPhone’s in a gaming controller.

Some smaller changes would be great too. App Library optionally in the Dock, rather than you having to swipe past every Home Screen to reach it. The Action button being able to trigger multiple shortcuts. Smart playlists in Music. And RCS support to improve messaging friends on Android.

Unleash the iPad’s power

Smart people claim iPad Pro would be improved if it could run macOS. We’re not so sure. But Apple should spend time elevating the iPad experience and addressing its shortcomings.

Multiple user accounts are long overdue. High-end iPads need more powerful background capabilities, so they can, for example, reliably export videos in the background while you get on with something else. And improvements to Files and Stage Manager would benefit everyone, not just pros.

Beyond that, we’d like Standby mode on iPad, so your tablet remains useful when idle. Let’s skip too much effort on a new Calculator app, though – great options already exist.

The best of the rest…

macOS Window

The lack of color in macOS can make it hard to easily spot buttons and elements.

Apple’s Mac line-up is doing well, and WWDC is often used to introduce new hardware. A larger iMac would be great. And for macOS, we’d like to see more color, for Apple to remember it’s not iPadOS, and for System Settings to be coherent again. Or at least have a three-column view and a resizable window.

The Apple Watch and Apple TV are often sidelined and are due some love. We want to finally see third-party watch faces you can install from the App Store. And Apple TV needs a revamp to kickstart its ecosystem. It’s been a long time since Apple CEO Tim Cook enthused that “the future of TV is apps”. But even the Games tab in that device’s App Store is in a sorry state.

Finally, developers are vital to the success of Apple products. Yet during its scraps with regulators, Apple inferred developers should feel grateful for the opportunity to work on iPhone and iPad – and that they owed Apple. The company must never forget apps and games are what make their platforms shine. Without them, an iPhone is little more than a pretty rectangle of glass and metal. There cannot be a better place than a developer conference to start making amends on that score.