From a new design to revamped apps, here’s what we want Apple to reveal at WWDC
At Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference this June, we’ll get our first glimpse of what’s coming to iOS 16. Everyone has a wish list for the software changes Apple will next bring to iPhone. Here’s what we want to see – and why.
A design refresh
Apple’s been adding subtle texture and depth back to iOS for a while, but it still lacks design affordances. Which in non-designer speak means you don’t always instinctively know what’s an actionable object, like a button. Also, too many interactive components remain hidden. We’d like to see all that change.
Elsewhere, widgets could do with regaining interactivity, rather than solely being huge buttons for displaying information and opening apps. Making the Lock Screen more useful would be handy too – right now, it’s a slew of notifications. Why not retain space for weather conditions and device battery levels?
Finally, we’d like iPhone to get more landscape love. Although many apps support landscape (sometimes with a two-pane view on ‘Plus’ iPhones), many don’t (including several of Apple’s). Face ID doesn’t work in landscape either, and the Home Screen doesn’t reorient – annoying when using your iPhone in a games controller.
Given Apple’s tendency to lock things down, Home Screen widgets were a surprise when they appeared, as was allowing users to choose an alternative default email client and web browser. iOS 16 should expand on both. Through Shortcuts, enterprising developers have ‘hacked’ custom icon sets, but Apple could provide an official approach. And swapping out default apps should extend to Music, Messages, Camera, Calendar, Maps and Weather.
Home Screens need to be more broadly editable, allowing app re-sorting (such as by install date/recent update/alphabetically) and you to place icons wherever you please. App Library should be a movable icon – or at least one you can place in the Dock, rather than you having to scroll through multiple Home Screens to access the feature. From a security standpoint, a guest/kid mode would be welcome, as would the option to place any app behind Face ID/Touch ID.
Additionally, regulation might eventually force Apple to allow app installs from outside of the App Store, so why not start now? Despite Apple’s claims this would lead to security disasters, the Mac’s long had a solution, mandating apps be notarized to make sure they don’t include malicious content. On iPhone, this would give the App Store much-needed competition and open up devices to entire app categories Apple doesn’t currently allow.
Improve stock apps
Battery charge status should extend to all your Apple devices (like in Cloud Battery). Photos needs a magic eraser, which Android and third-party apps provide (TouchRetouch being the master). Allergen information in Weather would be good (try Air Matters for now), as would multiple timers in Clock (MultiTimer) and keyword searches in Safari (xSearch). We’d also like passwords to get their own app with new storage categories, family sharing and attachment support.
A few apps need bigger overhauls for iOS 16. Mail feels abandoned. It should learn from modern email clients that help you blaze through messages by surfacing what’s important and snoozing what’s not. Similarly, Music could do more, like letting you dig into stats, build smart playlists, and follow favorite bands. Apple might feel burned by its long-dead music social network stinker Ping, but MusicHarbor shows how to elegantly deal with following bands and record labels. Maps desperately needs worldwide feature ubiquity (versus everything working in parts of the U.S. and not so much elsewhere) and offline map downloads.
Enhanced hardware support
Some wish-list items are more likely (interactive widgets) than others (app sideloading), and we suspect our final choices are in the latter camp. First, we’d like to see Apple Pencil support come to iPhone. Existing iPhone hardware isn’t designed for how the stylus effortlessly pairs/charges with iPad, but Apple’s a smart company and could think of something. Right now, the stylus situation on iPhone is bleak; having Apple’s premium scribbling stick at the ready for everything from mind-mapping to digital painting would be a boon.
Then there’s external display support. It’s unlikely this will come to iPad – although it should. It’s absurd that using an iPad even with an Apple Studio Display is sub-optimal, because apps don’t fill the screen. But the same’s also true for iPhone, with mirroring over AirPlay (and massive black borders around most mirrored content) being the best Apple has to offer. Yet some Android phones ‘think different’ – they can be your sole computer and transform into a PC of sorts when connected to a display, Bluetooth keyboard and pointing device. This won’t be part of iOS 16 – nor probably iOS 60 – but we can dream. After all, what use is a wish-list, if you can’t pepper it with a little hope and fantasy?