This year is different. For the first time in all the years I’ve been making these wish lists, I don’t feel compelled to note many new features that I want in iOS.
Instead, I have grievances. It feels like Apple has taken its eye off the ball and is falling further and further behind its competitors. Google’s machine learning has rapidly evolved and is becoming a serious competitive advantage. Amazon is killing it with its Echo speakers and voice recognition in general. And Microsoft – Microsoft! – is becoming a paragon of software and hardware design.
Why has thou strayed so, Apple?
In fact, about 6 months ago, I bought my first Android device. It’s a budget 6” behemoth, it’s kinda slow, and the default fonts are weird – but I still really like it (if nothing else, it’s convinced me that my next phone is going to have the biggest screen possible!).
The only reason I could even think about doing that is because I’ve been straying further and further from Apple’s native apps. (Don’t get me started on all the bugs the Photos app has given me!) It turns out Google’s apps are really, really good. I’ll have more to write about that soon, but suffice it to say that Apple really needs to knock it out of the park at WWDC this year for folks like me to even think about trusting Apple’s apps and services again.
Now, with all that said, let’s move on to what I’m hoping to see in iOS 11 this year…
Picture-in-Picture on iPhone
It was my first wish list item last year, and it’s my first wish list item again this year. If you’re going to abandon the iPad Mini (*weeps*), then at least let us watch videos while multitasking on our large-screen iPhones.
iPads have PIP. The newly-unveiled Android O has PIP. Time to add it to phones too, Apple!
Reset native apps
One feature I’ve really grown to like in using Google’s iPhone apps is that if anything goes wrong – bug in my data, aggressive caching by mistake, etc – I can just delete the app, install it again, and it’ll download my data from the cloud.
Compare to Apple’s native apps. I pay for 200GB of iCloud storage so I can use iCloud Photo Library. But it was taking up too much space on my 16GB iPad, so I turned off the feature a while back. But today, even though my iPad has 0 photos on it, the Photos app is still using 1.8GB of my 12GB of usable space. I’ve tried EVERYTHING short of resetting the device to free up that space. Nothing works. When Google Photos started taking up too much space on my phone, I just deleted the app for a couple weeks. When I reinstalled it a few weeks later, I was right back to where I was.
It would be SO nice if I could “refresh” all of the app data for Apple’s native apps without resetting my entire device. They started letting you delete 1st-party apps with iOS 10, I’m hoping they go a step further with iOS 11 and make the native apps truly modular.
Cross-platform app purchases
I can buy an iOS app from iTunes on a computer. But why can’t I buy a MacOS app from the App Store on an iOS device? Heck, why can’t I even view the Mac App Store listing for any app from an iOS device? (It was only once I dipped my toe into the Android ecosystem that I realized just how backwards a lot of Apple services are.)
iPad: Don’t let incoming calls take over screen when playing live video!
Seriously, this is insane. I was watching the NBA finals tonight and someone called me. Because of Apple’s Continuity features, it also rang on my iPad. Except, just like how an incoming call on an iPhone takes over the whole screen, it also took over my iPad screen, interrupting my live stream of the game. I use my iPad as a portable TV of sorts, especially for watching sports, and it is maddening if I forget to turn on Do Not Disturb on my iPad. WHY, Apple, WHY?
Incoming calls shouldn’t take over the entire screen on your phone, and they certainly shouldn’t take over your whole iPad screen. ESPECIALLY WHEN YOU’RE STREAMING A LIVE VIDEO.
Record voice and FaceTime calls
I’m not a podcaster, but I’ve read plenty about how frustrating it is for them to have to juggle using Skype just to have the ability to record a conversation. But the fact of the matter is that it would be great for everyone if we could record calls, especially FaceTime calls.
Video calls with family and friends are more than calls - they’re often memories. I use FaceTime to have meaningful conversations with distant relatives and I often wish I could do more than take a low-resolution screenshot to remember the moment.
In fact, my Mom has a 10+ minute video she recorded using the camera on her phone…of my sister FaceTiming us from another country while on vacation. Seriously, my mom used her phone’s camera just to record everything my sister was showing us on my phone, all because Apple can’t be bothered to add proper screen recording.
PS. How about group calling, while you’re at it?
3rd-party keyboards working properly
I tried a bunch of 3rd-party keyboards when they debuted in iOS 8, but I never stuck with any of them. Mostly because I thought they weren’t programmed well and would crash often, defaulting back the native keyboard. Well, 3 years later, and I’m still seeing the same crashes. So maybe it wasn’t the apps…
Lately, I’ve beeen using GBoard, which has an excellent swipe keyboard and integrated GIF features. It crashes a lot less than any other 3rd-party keyboard I’ve used (I’m looking at you, SwiftKey!), but still too much to be entirely comfortable with it.
Just fix it, Apple. FIX IT.
Open in 3rd-party apps properly
Why, when I come across a Twitter link in another app, do I have to long-press on the link and click on ‘Open in Safari’ to get it to open in the Twitter app? It’s the same for YouTube videos too.
In fact, it’s downright aggravating trying to get links to open properly in native apps. It’s great that apps can tell the operating system to open links in their app natively, not in the browser. But as a user, I want the CHOICE. Sometimes I just want to quickly preview a tweet in the browser, without opening the Twitter app and losing my place in the timeline from a few minutes ago. Or sometimes I was already watching a YouTube video, switched to another app for a moment and clicked on a link, and now I’ve lost the original video I was watching.
At a minimum, fix the ‘Open in Safari’ button to properly reflect the app that is going to open instead. Seriously, this is amateur hour, Apple.
Improved default video player
It boggles my mind that after 10 years, the default video player is little-changed…and STILL doesn’t have a ‘skip back 10 seconds’ button! Seriously, this is table stakes for any 3rd-party app that plays videos.
Netflix has a button in the bottom left. Amazon’s video app lets you swipe left anywhere on the screen. But I think I like YouTube’s implementation most of all, just a simple double-tap on the left side of the screen.
Pick one. Any one. Just add this to the video player, Apple. And while you’re at it, how about fixing that awful volume changing HUD you implemented in iOS 7?
macOS and tvOS updates
These still exist, right? Has someone told Apple?