We know a fair amount about what to expect from WWDC next week — software heavy with Siri as a star and light on hardware — yet there is still plenty of room for surprises like HomeKit and Apple News from previous years. Expectations are especially light on watchOS and tvOS, the software that runs on Apple Watch and Apple TV, and there are plenty of new features that could improve the iPhone, iPad, and Mac. Here’s my Feature Request for each of Apple’s software platforms, WWDC 2016 edition.
iOS 10 |
Apple’s WWDC app refresh on Friday introduced a dark theme and got everyone dreaming about the possibility of this look going system wide in iOS 10. Apple could spin dark mode as an extension of Night Shift, the display color temperature setting introduced in iOS 9.3, and already does a nice job on dark apps like Activity, Safari’s private mode, and Trailers. The WWDC app theme is a bit lighter but one that might look nice on iPhones before the move to OLED. I miss the dark theme of Beats Music and always use Tweetbot’s dark mode so a system wide version would be welcomed.
I’d also love to be able to text Siri in situations where speaking isn’t ideal but typing is more efficient than jumping through apps. You can already do this (sort of) when you prompt Siri, speak anything, then tap the text to edit it. The Spotlight page to the left of the Home screen seems like the ideal place for this. (I’m part of a generation that prefers to text and not make phone calls so I’m sure this would get some use.)
I’m also hoping iOS 10 includes some optimizations for the 4-inch iPhone. I covered the oddities in my iPhone SE review: iOS 7 was fine on smaller iPhones when they were the only iPhones, but iOS 8 and beyond has stretched its legs in places where there’s no room to do so on the iPhone SE. Just look at the share sheet and status bar. See also: the Night Shift text here.
Multitasking also needs some love with iOS 10. Apple delivered a great first experience with Split View, Slide Over, and Picture in Picture with iOS 9, and the app picker for multitasking can only improve going forward. The current method often requires a whole lot of swiping to find the right app. I’m not sure a mini Home screen is the right answer, but it could be better than the current method.
Finally, multiroom AirPlay from iOS would be killer. Battery life is the obvious constraint here but you can already do multiroom AirPlay from iTunes on MacBooks with shorter battery life than iPads so the option would be nice. Between Apple TVs and AirPort Express-connected speakers, I have seven AirPlay targets around my house. I want to be able to AirPlay Apple Music to two or more of those targets from iOS without using a Mac in the middle (the iOS Remote app gets you close if you have an always-on Mac). The icing on the cake would be the ability to tell Siri to AirPlay to specific targets.
MacOS 10.12 |
Remember Dark Mode from OS X Yosemite? That got reduced to ‘dark menu bar and Dock’ before OS X 10.10 shipped, but a feature that changes Apple’s apps to a darker theme would be nice. The Mac could also benefit from its own Night Shift feature. Apple borrowed Night Shift on iOS from f.lux on the Mac, and building the basic feature in to Macs would probably be popular (and choose f.lux for more advanced display color temperature controls).
Photos on the Mac would be infinitely better with one new features: Places. iPhoto had this feature which lets you view every geotagged photo you’ve ever taken and drill in further by location on one big map view. Photos has a similar feature but limits viewing photos on a map to a single year. Year first then location second works, but I also want to see every photo I’ve ever taken in a specific location.
Finally, I really want to see a dedicated Podcasts app on OS X. I use Apple’s Podcasts app on iPhone and iPad, and iTunes for podcast playback on the Mac. For me, the app is really good on iOS and works similarly on the Mac. It’s worthy of being pulled out of iTunes and given its own place on the Dock. Stripping down iTunes on the Mac one section at a time could be a manageable approach too. (By the way, I’m pretty sold on the MacOS name formatted just like that.)
For watchOS 3, I have a few modest requests that would improve Apple Watch. First, more watch faces with different layouts.
Second, give Siri a voice! Apple Watch has a speaker and VoiceOver shows how this could work. I imagine most people would leave it off by default or want to control it with the mute alerts toggle. Siri gaining a voice on Apple Watch would only enhance the hands-free, eyes-free experience and be a step closer to the ideal scenario of having an always-listening virtual assistant.
Finally, I really hope watchOS 3 brings more Apple apps. Reminders, Notes, and Podcasts are three good candidates. I use Fantastical to see my iCloud Reminders on Apple Watch and Notes just can’t be accessed even though email is supported. I’d also like a Podcasts app that works like Music on Apple Watch. View and control podcasts streamed or saved to your iPhone from your Apple Watch, or optionally download and sync a few episodes directly on the watch.
Apple TV has matured a lot from tvOS 9.0 in October to tvOS 9.2 in March so my requests here are much shorter. For tvOS 10 (or whatever Apple calls it), I want to see Siri upgraded to match most of what Siri on iOS can do. HomeKit support is a huge example. Apple TV can make HomeKit accessible from outside of the home, but Siri on Apple TV can’t control HomeKit accessories like lights or temperature.
And just like on watchOS, Siri needs a voice on tvOS. Apple TV is probably connected to the best speakers in your house, too. It makes sense that Siri doesn’t speak over playing audio — that experience would be a deal breaker — but an option to give Siri a voice when used any other time could work. Most interactions wouldn’t even require voice feedback, but adding the option could expand the capabilities.
For more pre-WWDC reading ahead of the June 13th keynote, check out our WWDC 2016 roundups:
- Apple Worldwide Developer Conference: Everything you need to know about WWDC 2016
- WWDC Rumor Roundup: Everything Apple could announce at its upcoming event
- iOS 10: Rumored iPhone & iPad features in the cards for WWDC 2016
- OS X 10.12 & Mac: What will Apple show off for Mac at WWDC 2016?
- WWDC 2016 Preview Rumors: No new hardware but plenty of Siri, iMessage may get money transfers via Apple Pay, more