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10 Things We Want From New iPhone Software at Apple's WWDC

Because software > hardware!

SEAMUS BYRNE, /BEYOND
31 MAY 2018
 

Next week at WWDC we get to wake up to the excitement of fresh news on what the next big Apple software release, iOS 12, will bring to our iPhones, iPads and Apple TVs.

Make no mistake. The world loves to focus on the new hardware launches later in the year, but it's the software updates that make the real difference to how useful our smartphones can be.

 

But right now, there's a few quirks and nuisances that feel like they're keeping us a few gears away from where we really want to be. So here's my take on what we hope will pop up in the iOS 12 news on Monday.

1. Multi-user access for iPad

There is no feature I want more. iPads are household devices and that means shared apps and shared games, with so much life drama around who has the right to change things or spend game coins or a million other dramas. We need user profiles. We. Need. Them!

The fact they exist for school environments means we know Apple can do it. Just give it to us all already!

2. A truly smart camera

Between ARKit augmented reality fun and Siri listening to our voice commands, it's time we start getting useful features out of the combination of AI and camera capabilities.

I want to translate foreign signs in the native camera app. I want to point at the sky and get a weather forecast. Or compare prices at the supermarket.

Basically, I want Google Lens cleverness built into my iPhone camera. With all the silky smooth Apple flavouring.

 

3. Fix the Wi-Fi setting!

I'm sure some people still don't know that the Wi-Fi in iOS 11 doesn't truly turn off unless you dive deep into the settings menus to make it do so.

The iOS 11 nuisance of not really turning off Wi-Fi is annoying. I want to control how my phone runs its network operations from the Control Center, not just a faux switch off that only lasts 24 hours.

4. Fix all the settings

Indeed the whole Settings app setup could use an overhaul. There's so much in there that has slowly been added over the years that it is now hard to find what you want.

Particularly the way app settings are in a giant alphabetical list rather than associated directly with the apps, or certain app features could be grouped to allow control over all related functions in all apps.

Some love for what Settings should be 10 years on from the original iPhone would be a big leap forward.

5. Make notifications easier to manage

They're just so same-same and there are so many of them. Now that every news app and every alert wants to jump out and get your attention, everything is a blur. We need richer notifications for the apps we're willing to let show us more than just two lines of flat text.

AND we need to be able to change the notification settings for an app right there in the Notification system. If I let an app slip through the defence shield and throw too many annoying messages my way, don't make me hunt down its permissions in the ugly settings menus.

 

Let me do it right where I don't want to see it anymore.

Snooze functions would also be great too!

6. Smarter lock screen

This is something of an extension of the notification point above, but that's precisely because all the lock screen is is a place to show notifications. Make this prime real estate a richer experience!

Let's get widgets and live information displays happening here. Live weather info. Live sports scores. We don't need wildly rich experiences that eat all our battery life, but smart and simple widgets make the world a better place.

7. Can Siri get good yet?

In our household, Siri is mostly used to crack jokes about how silly Siri is at misunderstanding what we ask her. Our kids think she is hilarious. Meanwhile, they think Alexa has some pretty great answers to useful questions.

Somehow Apple's personal assistant became the relegated joke. But she doesn't have to stay that way. Let's give her some real utility that helps Apple to claw back some ground in the AI wars to come.

 

8. Let me use all my data the way I want

Apple holds a limit on over-the-air app downloads to a maximum of 150MB. To me that feels like pandering to the telephone network operators. If I pay for 'unlimited' data, or I pay for whatever capped allowance I might pay for, I'm responsible enough to use it carefully. So let me.

More than once I've been frustrated to discover an app is unusable without an update, but I've already left the house and the download is too large to be allowed. It's infuriating!

Give me a warning, hold my hand, fine. Just don't blanket ban me from using the data I pay for in exactly the way I want to use it.

9. Broader NFC access

Again, Apple's protective nature over our data is best in class. I vastly prefer being on the platform that doesn't let apps sneak a thousand permissions past me out of context.

Fitting in with this, I like how smart the security protocols are around Apple Pay, Touch ID and Face ID systems. Very secure, very safe. But... I do want to let my non-Apple Pay bank run tap payments using my phone's NFC chip too.

Right now the issue has been a stand off over Apple wanting an extra little clip of the ticket for access to its hardware. And they have little interest in giving that away for free.

But we're hearing rumours of some extensions to how NFC could be used by some types of apps in future.

That sounds fantastic, let's just make sure as part of this we're allowing all the genuinely useful third-party ideas access and we don't just refuse some partners because they're not going to make extra money for Apple.

10. Default apps

When I click somewhere to write an email, I'd love to be able to send that email link to the Gmail app by default. Or certain fitness functions default to Runkeeper. Or podcast links default to Pocket Casts.

I'm sure everyone has their list of 'default' apps. Let's bake that into the system so we can all set those permanent connections around our personal devices - less taps, less fuss.

You can tune into the WWDC keynote, where all the big announcements will be made, live on Monday, June 4, at 10am PDT.

/Beyond is ScienceAlert's new section covering the wider world of gadgets, games, and digital culture.

 

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