Apple's upcoming iOS 16: Wishlist

Apple’s upcoming iOS 16: Wishlist

Please enter my psychic reading room. No, no, don’t touch the crystal ball! Well, this is what I see:

Soon – very soon – Apple will announce the next version of its iPhone operating system with many new features. The Ouija board has guided me to…1…6! Yes, iOS 16! And the spirits whisper, “September.” Yes, then your iPhone will get it.

thanks for coming. That would be $200.

Well, I don’t need my forecasting abilities to know the future of Apple‘s

AAPL -3.86%

Software releases because you already know the past.

On Monday, the company opened its annual Worldwide Developers Conference (also known as WWDC) with a keynote. As in previous years, Apple is expected to announce updates to its apps and core operating systems – iOS, macOS, iPadOS, WatchOS, and tvOS. Unlike previous years, or at least the last two years, I’m going out of my basement to attend the event in Cupertino, CA.

Monday’s keynote will still be pre-recorded and broadcast online, but a variety of reporters, YouTubers and app developers are welcome to watch from the company’s headquarters.

I understand why you disagree. It’s not like we’re going to celebrate like iOS 99! (Forgive me, Prince fans.) After about 15 iOS releases—with fewer and fewer features—it can be hard to get excited.

So why do we have to wait until June for the new program to be presented in a big, cheerful, and ostentatious presentation? And why does the bulk of the features arrive at a large landfill in September?

Justin Santamaria, who was Apple’s senior director of engineers until 2013 and led development of the FaceTime and Messages apps, tells me that’s because the company used to focus on the big annual upgrade of hardware.

“We were always building the next OS for the features that came out on the next iPhone,” he said. But he acknowledges that now that the company is more focused on software and services and people keep their old iPhones longer, the big annual upgrade approach could be rethought..

And Apple is staying away from it. In iOS 15, for example, the company rolled out some of the biggest features of the year — launching the old digital feature in December and adding mask support for Face ID in March.

Share your thoughts

What’s on your wishlist on iOS? Join the conversation below.

Could you go further? Probably. iOS could just be iOS – no number! And new features can appear when they’re ready, largely without applause from the virtual audience.

However, don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t be overwhelmed by minor feature updates, like some of the ones I’ve been dreaming of. Here is my yearly list of somewhat fancy iOS features:

messages of things

Apple Messages has become my most important app, but not because it has the best tools. I would like the ability to mark a message as unread, so I don’t forget it and can come back to it later. Also, how about giving us more Tapback responses — you know, the icons that pop up when you hold down a message? I’d like to see emoji options like Slack offers. And what I do not offer to the index of writing in group chats!

Due to all the spam you have received lately, some better blocking and reporting tools are needed.

And finally, just really embrace Rich Communication Services (or RCS), Apple. This messaging standard, already built into Android, brings iMessage-like features — like receipts, messages over Wi-Fi, and encryption — to regular text messages. This means that those messages with your friends from the green bubble will be significantly better. Google invited Apple to adopt the standard; An Apple spokeswoman declined to comment.

Home screen stuff

iOS 14 redesigned the Home screen with useful widgets (those little boxes of live information) and an app library to tame the clutter. In iOS 16, Apple plans to add widget capabilities to the lock screen, so you won’t need to scroll to check the weather or any other information, according to Bloomberg. This goes hand in hand with reports that the iPhone 14, due in September, will have an “always on” screen that displays important information without having to tap the screen — similar to the Samsung Galaxy and Google Pixel phones, and the Apple Watch.

And what about some new home screen design options? With Apple’s Shortcuts feature, people are starting to customize their app icons with downloadable packages. However, I’m tired of just watching this TikTok on how to do it. The new Material You feature in Android allows you to fix the colors, icons, and appearance of your home screens without all that effort. Who wouldn’t want their screen to look like a West Elm showroom?

miscellaneous things

I say it every time I review my incredibly massive iPhone (Pro Max): Let’s put two apps side by side, iPad-style, or on top of each other. This way we can look, for example, at a web page and a document simultaneously.

Then there’s Avoid AutoCorrect! As I suggested in my last column, we should have the ability to adjust the intensity of the patch so that the “good” patch doesn’t always become “we”. But I’ll settle for what Android has: options to suggest offensive words and people from your contacts, and a way to undo unwanted autocorrect.

On the Google Pixel 6, you can easily save a frame from a video as an image.


Joanna Stern/The Wall Street Journal

In the Photos app, how about being able to pull a still image out of a video after it’s been recorded? I love having this feature on the Google Pixel: I don’t have to devote the mental energy to selecting ‘video or photo’ when photographing my kids doing something cool.

Apple Wallet is in dire need of a complete interface overhaul. The vertical view of the cards is confusing and swiping when shopping or boarding a flight with your family should be much simpler.

And for the love of battery saving, please just bring back the battery percentage in the upper right corner. I’m done swiping down!

Some of my most important new features over the years have been those focused on protecting our privacy, security, and even our physical safety. As my colleague Rolf Winkler reports, Apple is working on a car accident detection feature that will automatically call 911 if the phone senses an accident.

iPad stuff

I’m putting out some iPadOS stuff, too. Please give us multiple user accounts so I’m not afraid my son will send emails when he’s supposed to be watching Pokemon. As the iPad is increasingly becoming like a Mac, it makes sense to have this functionality.

See how easy it is to add another user on your Mac? Do it now on iPads, Apple!


Joanna Stern/The Wall Street Journal

And I’ll be honest, I really have no idea how to efficiently multitask on an iPad. I did not master gymnastics on the fingers to switch applications, put applications side by side, etc. All this could be easier.

Finally, fixed my iPad wishlist: a cool calculator. Seriously, just make it a tool at this point.

Oh, one AirPod thing. Look, I’m in charge, you little white parents. I want to be able to say, “Stay connected to my iPhone and only my iPhone! Don’t connect to my MacBook or iPad!” Let’s have a setting to disable constant switching between devices.

We’ll see what wishes come true at Monday’s event. I just consulted my tarot cards and they assure that we will in fact witness many things that Apple described as “cool”, “unbelievable” and indeed “magical”.

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