WWDC 2021 Wish Lists
With Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference right around the corner, I thought I’d round up a bunch of wish lists and predictions from the fine folks I follow on the web. They all think deeply about Apple’s platforms, are very imaginative, and I agree with many of their suggestions. Of course, with only a few days left before the conference, this would be a lot of content to get through, so I’ve pulled out a favorite wish list item from each to prime the pump for you.
AppStories - John and Federico at AppStories ran an excellent series laying out their wishes across several episodes of their podcast.
- macOS: John and I are on the same page about the Music app still being clunky, and the absence of Handoff is frustrating. I’m hoping that we’ll see Music completely redone with SwiftUI as proof of its enhancements.
- iOS: I would also want improvements to sharing from Safari, particularly into Shortcuts. It kills me that web views in apps don’t have the same functionality, and John is correct that the nuances between sharing from selected text and the share button are confusing.
- iPadOS: Federico is spot on that we need a rethinking for the concept of spaces on iPad.
- watchOS & tvOS (joined by Alex Guyot): Alex makes a good case for a more functional side button on the Apple Watch.
A Better Computer - Matt Birchler, who does an excellent watchOS review every year, made great suggestions for watchOS 8 on his YouTube Channel. Yes, please, for a better always-on screen experience!
Connected - Stephen, Myke, and Federico make their passionate picks on their Rickies podcast episode. You’ve got to listen to this; it’s a ton of fun. Fingers crossed for that DAC. 🤣
Upgrade - Jason and Myke draft the most likely things we’ll see during the keynote. I always have their scorecard pulled up during the show to grade it live. I don’t know what kind of things I want to see added to the Messages app, but I’m open to improvements as it’s one of my most-used apps.
ATP - Marco, Casey, and John take a less structured approach to their WWDC predictions but mix in some smart observations into the conversation. I do think that we’ll see a new MacBook Pro with the next iteration of Apple Silicon (probably M1X).
Stacktrace - John and Gui make their predictions with a poker game, betting point values on each pick. I would be down for John’s bet on a lock screen redesign, especially if it takes better use of the OLED displays to light up only parts of the screen at a time.
Those folks might be the professionals, but, as an invested and nerdy guy myself, I have my own hopes and dreams for Apple’s operating systems! So here’s what I’m hoping to see.
- Better Shortcuts support. This should include more system functions like toggling cellular and silent mode during workouts. Or let those things be configured in the Workout app itself rather than having to build an automation for it.
- Speak workout status over headphones. The Nike+ Running app has done this for years, and I’m astounded it has never come to the Workouts app. I figured for the first couple versions that Apple just forgot it, but come on, have Siri be more useful during a workout and tell me my pace and progress at regular intervals, rather than just tapping my wrist (which is easy to miss).
- Widgets. I’m someone who misses the old Glances feature of early watchOS. I think it would be better to use the side button to bring up scrollable widgets for my favorite apps.
- A better solution for status icons on the watch face. I hate waiting for the status indicator to cycle through all the active icons: notifications, now playing, workout, walkie-talkie. Trying to tap into the right one at the right time before it cycles out is like a terrible video game.
- Shortcuts app. It’s where I’ve already built and curated a ton of automations, and I want to be able to use them on my most powerful machine.
- Fix Notification Center. The notifications themselves are frustratingly hard to manage, and the way they stack up with the widgets view makes both less usable.
- Widgets on the desktop. Most of the time, my desktop is pretty clean with tons of room for widgets. I think that it would be a better home if Apple’s not willing to bring back Dashboard.
- Fix the FileVault system. The way it works now, I cannot have both an encrypted drive and still use a non-Apple Bluetooth keyboard upon reboot.
- Better family sharing for photos. I’d really like a family library solution for sharing most, if not all, photos with a partner.
- A full-on Authentication app. It should be the home for passwords, 2FA, Sign in with Apple, and include Family Sharing. Unfortunately, shared accounts using Sign in with Apple are clunky in their current implementation. I’m a happy 1Password for Families customer. Still, I would like to see Apple’s take on a standalone app and know it would be more accessible and better overall for the security of iOS users if a complete solution were baked into the OS.
- Multi-stop planning in maps. Bonus points for a more effortless flow for finding locations along a route while navigating in CarPlay.
- Support for dynamic wallpapers that change throughout the day. I love this on macOS, but iOS and iPadOS are limited to wallpapers that change only with light and dark mode.
- A refinement, if not overhaul, of multitasking. It’s altogether too fiddly to get the right apps on screen together, manage the open windows (chiefly when some don’t fully support multi-windows), and determine which app is receiving input. Vidit Bhargava’s concept for a Menu Bar on the iPad could be a good solution.
- App Library and Widgets on the Home Screen. Do I need to say anything more about these?
- Useful external monitor support. I’m jumping on the bandwagon for this feature. I’m a big fan of multiple monitors, and I want to use them in a meaningful way with any app.
- System extensions that can be always-on. I’m thinking of utilities like clipboard managers and text expansion. These are workflows that I rely on when using my Mac, and I’d love to see that functionality come to iPadOS as well. I know it would take significant changes to the sandbox architecture, but they’ve been locking down macOS for a while, and these apps still work there. It would speed up so many workflows and bring more continuity when switching between platforms.
- An Apple web search engine. I’m not holding my breath for this, but I think it’s time for Apple to introduce their own search engine to compete with Google. Would it be the best? Probably not, but engines like DuckDuckGo and Ecosia do well enough. Apple already has the AppleBot crawler, and I think it could be empowered to give so many of their services a boost. For instance, tvOS could have a more functional TV app if it didn’t rely on each application building in support but instead could pull episode data from the open web. Likewise, Siri could be more useful if they leveraged a knowledge graph using the search engine as a foundation, like the Google Assistant. Not to mention that Apple platform users would have another choice for more private web browsing.
- Overhaul the Music app across all the platforms. I say burn it down and reimagine each for the streaming age and the maturity of all the platforms. I don’t want to switch to Spotify, but their app is so much faster, has better discovery, collaborative playlists, listening stats, and looks better than Apple Music. Just make sure to keep the Live Lyrics, which are fantastic and beautiful.
- In-App Purchase improvements for developers. I think that Apple needs to earn back some goodwill after recent events. While I’m not a developer, I agree with Marco Arment’s take that allowing other in-app payment options would go a long way without massively impacting Apple’s core business. Furthermore, it would make them compete with better features rather than being the only way to pay in apps.
Will all my wishes come true? Almost certainly not. But I’d be happy to get a few of them fulfilled. We complain and make wishes because we care. But no matter what, I’ll be eagerly following along to see what software, and maybe hardware, goodies get announced next week.