We’re just three months away from Apple’s annual WWDC event, which is where the company will announce its next round of major software updates. As usual, the headliner here will be iOS 16 and iPadOS 16, which will bring major new features to the iPhone and iPad.
Here are four new iOS 16 features that I’m really hoping to see Apple bring this year…
iOS 16 features
Whereas iOS 14 was a major update for the iPhone with home screen widgets and other changes, iOS 15 was more iterative – particularly when you consider how many of the initial features were delayed to subsequent iOS 15 updates.
As you may recall, iOS 14 was one of the most popular updates to the iPhone in years, thanks to its introduction of home screen widgets. This led to a wave of new customization options for iPhone users, particularly with powerful third-party apps like Widgetsmith.
There was an expectation that iOS 15 would continue the focus on customization, but this didn’t turn out to be the case. Instead, Apple focused on new features for a world where a pandemic was still very much raging. These included features like SharePlay, Focus Modes, and more.
This means that since the release of iOS 14, Apple hasn’t made any further changes to iPhone customization or widgets – and that’s a shame. This year with iOS 16, I’m looking for Apple to focus on improving and expanding upon some of the features that were first introduced in iOS 14.
First and foremost, my hope is that Apple takes the experience of home screen widgets to the next level with iOS 16. As it stands today, home screen widgets are aesthetically pleasing and can provide quick, glanceable information. In terms of functionality, however, they are incredibly limited.
Whereas widgets on platforms like Android are interactive, this is not the case on iPhone. If you tap on a widget from your iPhone home screen, you’ll be taken directly to the app for that widget. For example, you can’t quickly check off a to-do item from a widget, nor can you manage Apple Music playback controls.
This situation is even more frustrating when you realize that the Apple Music app for Android includes fully interactive home screen widgets. Additionally, the Shortcuts app in iOS is also technically interactive, allowing you to run shortcuts directly from your iPhone or iPad’s home screen.
With iOS 16, I hope Apple makes these widget features native for all first-party apps on iOS and available as an API for developers. Two years after the official launch of home screen widgets, this feels like a logical (and overdue) next step.
Wallpaper packs and more
Continuing the focus on customization, I hope that Apple brings even more ways to personalize your iPhone home screen with iOS 16. Beyond widgets, I’d like to see Apple embrace the idea of theming across the board. This includes custom app icons for stock apps, custom accent colors, and more.
This is a feature that came to Android last year, but it is not possible on iOS (with some exceptions thanks to Shortcuts, but these are wonky workarounds). Ideally, iOS 16 will include a dedicated “Personalization” option in the Settings app where users can change everything from fonts to colors to icons and more.
There’s actually some evidence that Apple was at one point considering new customization options in the Settings app. In a leaked build of iOS 14 back in 2020, there was evidence that Apple was planning to allow third-parties to integrate into the Settings app to provide wallpaper collections.
A leaked screenshot a month later showed how this feature could have worked, but ultimately it never saw the light of day. Hopefully this changes with this year’s iOS 16 update.
A focus on HomeKit
After years of apparent neglect, 2022 can and should be the year that HomeKit finally starts to shine. The current Home app hasn’t seen a major revamp since its introduction with iOS 10 way back in 2016.
The app’s interface is not designed to handle large numbers of accessories and cameras. In fact, the Home app arguably punishes users who have more than a few HomeKit accessories. The more accessories you add, the worse the Home app gets, both in terms of performance and design. The Home app needs a revamp in iOS 16.
There are multiple reasons why Apple should put more attention on HomeKit and the Home app this year. First and foremost, the Thread protocol continues to gain widespread adoption, bringing significant improvements to smart home accessory reliability and performance. Even Apple’s HomePod mini includes integrated Thread support.
Second, the Apple-backed smart home standard “Matter” is also expected to see the light of day in 2022. Apple has promised that Matter will make it easier for device manufacturers to build devices that are compatible with smart home and voice services such as Amazon’s Alexa, Apple’s Siri, Google’s Assistant, and others.
If Matter does indeed launch in 2022, will mean there are a host of new HomeKit accessories on the market. As it stands today, the Home app isn’t ready for primetime – but hopefully iOS 16 changes that.
Apple Music improvements
Last but not least, there’s another app that needs a polish with iOS 16 this year and that’s the Music app. The Music app is one of the most-used apps in iOS, but it suffers from a variety of quirks and bugs, many of which are holdovers from years ago, even before Apple Music launched.
I’m not looking for Apple to completely revamp the Music app with iOS 16. In fact, that would be counterintuitive. What I want is for Apple to double down on the performance and reliability of the Music app and Apple Music as a service. Spotify, for all of its faults, has a reliable backend that makes its apps far faster to load than Apple Music.
Also, can we please get gapless playback support with the Music app in iOS 16? Here’s yet another feature that is available in Apple Music for Android, but not iOS.
These are just a handful of the features I hope to see Apple add with iOS 16 this year. There are obviously other features that would be nice to see, but these are the areas on which I hope to see Apple focus. So far, there haven’t been any rumors on where Apple’s focus will be this year, so this is fully speculative.
What about you? What’s on your iOS 16 wishlist? Let us know down in the comments!
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