Every year right around WWDC time, I get extremely excited to see what changes are coming to Apple’s software platforms. While I have the great fortune and pleasure to use a Mac for both work and play, and still love what the Mac’s hardware and software provides me in both those areas, my real joy on WWDC keynote day comes from seeing what changes are coming to iOS. This little-platform-that-could reaches double digits this year with (I’m assuming) iOS 10. Here are a few things that I would love to see come in that update, along with an out-of-ten scale for how likely it is to happen (10/10 = 100% likely).
1. More Effective Use of Landscape Mode on the iPhone (5/10)
I’ve been on the ‘S’ cycle of phones, and with this latest iteration made the leap from a 5S to a 6S+, and have been incredibly happy with how it worked out. This beast of a phone is a joy to use, and I often have a hard time putting it down (okay — 15% addiction and 85% awesomeness). I never thought I’d find myself using a phone in landscape mode frequently, but the Plus devices are much more landscape-friendly — more tablet-like than phone-like in that regard. However, there are still some areas where the OS and it’s built-in apps have a ways to go. The two that come to mind are the lockscreen and Apple Music, both of which do not support landscape mode at all. My bet on this is that nothing changes with the lockscreen in iOS 10, but Apple Music gains full landscape support.
2. More granular controls over sounds and vibrations (4/10)
One feature that I’ve come to love about iOS is the somewhat hidden, but really handy, ability to create your own vibration patterns for alert noises. Since I am not a monster, I very rarely have my phone make any audible noises. Rather, I usually have it set to silent mode with vibrations (though I even turn those off at times). With these custom vibrations, I’m able to determine whether something is important or not without ever taking the phone out of my pocket — three quick buzzes is a iMessage; two sets of two quick buzzes is an email from one of my VIPs. However, currently these custom vibrations are mostly limited to only Apple’s built-in apps or services. So, while I can set different vibration patterns for Reminders vs. Messages, I’m not able to differentiate between, say, Twitterrific DM’s and Overcast new episode alerts. If I had my druthers, in the screenshot here there would be one more menu — ‘Apps’, with an arrow next to it where users could drill down further to assign custom sounds and/or vibrations for all apps, without making that screen a mile long for those who don’t wish for that level of control. Win/win, right!?
3. Ability to set default apps (3/10)
This has shown up on iOS wishlists for years, and while I’m not holding out hope, a fella can still dream, right? I’m a huge fan of Safari, especially on iOS, so I wouldn’t want to change that, but you better believe I would change the (good but not great) default Mail app to Airmail, the default Calendar app to Fantastical, and the default podcast app to Overcast. These third party apps take Apple’s fine-but-not-spectacular built-in apps and add polish, features, and fun in a way that makes me more productive and happy every day, and there’s no reason why they have to take a backseat.
4. A much more well behaved Spotlight search from the homescreen (8/10)
Maybe I’m the only one suffering from this affliction, but searching Spotlight from the homescreen (either via swipe left or swipe down) works way less frequently than I’d like it to. It seems like half the time, I type the name of the app aaaaaand…nothing. Nada. No results at all (see the screenshot for how opposite helpful this is). Since I’m a one homescreen kind of guy, my world was great when I knew that I could swipe down, quickly type part of the app name, and open any app, regardless of how buried it is in folders, quickly and easily. C’mon Apple, please please please fix this for me!
5. 3rd Party Keyboards Work Better (7/10)
I don’t think this will get featured in the keynote by any means, but my hope is that ongoing bug fixes and OS underpinnings make 3rd party keyboards work just as well, and, more importantly, as reliable as the built-in iOS keyboard. While I really like the built-in iOS keyboard, there are now compelling 3rd party keyboards that are worth trying (more to come on this in a future article *coughFORESHADOWINGcough*). Hell, Microsoft and Google have each come out with iOS keyboards in the last few months. And they’re good! THAT’S CRAZY.
I don’t think this will get featured in the keynote by any means, but my hope is that ongoing bug fixes and OS underpinnings make 3rd party keyboards work just as well, and, more importantly, as reliable as the built-in iOS keyboard. While I really like the built-in iOS keyboard, there are now compelling 3rd party keyboards that are worth trying (more to come on this in a future article coughFORESHADOWINGcough). Hell, Microsoft and Google have each come out with iOS keyboards in the last few months. And they’re good! THAT’S CRAZY.
There are certainly many more changes that I’d love to see (Siri advancement/API, control center configuration options, more Touch 3D features to name a few), but these are the top five. I love iOS, and I think it’s fantastic, but there’s always room for growth and improvement, and I can’t wait to see what WWDC 2016 brings.