Apple’s set to announce iOS 16 during WWDC 2022 on June 6, and ahead of its unveiling, there are a handful of features I can’t help but wish for. WWDC (also known as the Worldwide Developer Conference) is one of Apple’s biggest events of the year. Along with helping developers stay updated on the latest best practices for app development, WWDC is also where Apple unveils its next big software versions. If there’s a new update for iOS, iPadOS, macOS, or anything else, WWDC is where we first hear about it.
For iOS specifically, the last couple of updates have been pretty outstanding. iOS 14 introduced widgets and the App Library — two of the biggest changes we’ve ever seen for the iPhone home screen. It also brought smaller UI designs for phone calls and Siri, many new Messages features, and added Apple’s Translate app. iOS 15 wasn’t quite as groundbreaking, but it was a well-rounded update in its own right. iOS 15 gave us SharePlay, a redesigned Weather app, Focus modes, and upgraded notifications.
The changes we’ve seen with iOS 14 and iOS 15 have put the operating system in a good place in 2022. It’s more customizable than it’s ever been, Apple’s first-party apps keep getting better, and it remains just as fast and responsive as ever. But that’s not to say it’s perfect. There are a few things that could take iOS to the next level, and with iOS 16 just on the horizon, Apple will soon be in a position to do just that. When Apple inevitably announces iOS 16 this June, these are the features I’m crossing my fingers for.
At the top of my wishlist are interactive widgets. iOS widgets are very good in their current form. They all have an unified aesthetic, support a few different sizes, and are widely supported by third-party apps. There’s just one problem with iOS widgets: they aren’t interactive. I can see tasks/notes on the Reminders widget, but there’s no way to mark them complete without opening the full application. The Apple Music widget is great for seeing your listening activity, but it doesn’t have playback controls for controlling what you’re listening to. iOS widgets look nice and offer valuable home screen info… but that’s it.
This is one area where Android widgets remain superior to iOS’s implementation. I can scroll on the Google Calendar Android widget to see more upcoming events, cycle through different articles on the Google News widget, and use playback controls for Apple Music, Spotify, and other apps — all without ever leaving the home screen. Now that iPhone users have had a couple of years to use widgets (and developers have had time to support them), adding interaction is the next logical step.
App Icon Customization
Although iOS has generally been less customizable than Android, that’s not to say there aren’t any customization features. Widgets added a lot more variety to the home screen, you can switch between light and dark mode, and the App Library is a great wide to hide lesser-used apps. If Apple wants to make its customization options even better, iOS 16 should add customizable app icons.
This is something that kind of exists in iOS 15 already. Some apps have built-in icons you can switch between, and Siri Shortcuts can be used to add different icons to any app you want. But it all feels pretty disjointed. Every app has its own steps for changing icons, and if you use Siri Shortcuts to change them, that comes with its own limitations. iOS 16 could streamline app icons with new system-wide controls. Imagine instantly changing app icons in the Settings app or with just a long-press on the app you want to change. Apple could incorporate official icons app developers have created and better support the tons of third-party ones on the App Store. Plenty of iPhone users are already changing their app icons, so why not make the experience better than it is today?
Leading up to the iPhone 13’s announcement last year, all signs pointed to it being the first iPhone with an always-on display. Numerous rumors and leaks claimed it would be there, and even Apple’s event invite eluded to an always-on function. But that never happened. What’s especially irritating is that there’s no apparent hardware limitation for Apple to have an always-on display. Every iPhone 12 and iPhone 13 already has an OLED display, as do older models like the iPhone X, iPhone XS, and iPhone 11 Pro.
If Apple wanted to, it could add an always-on display as an iOS 16 feature for all of its OLED iPhones. Just think about how useful that would be! You could glance at your iPhone and see the time, weather, upcoming appointments, and new notifications — all without having to pick it up or press the power button. Android phones have had always-on displays for years, and its absence on the iPhone becomes more and more noticeable with each year it’s not added.
More Default App Options
Starting with iOS 14, Apple did something no one ever thought would happen — it let people change the default apps for their web browser and email. Instead of always using Safari and Apple Mail for web links and emails, you can change those to Google Chrome, Microsoft Edge, Gmail, Spark, etc. While that’s a good start, I’d love to see Apple expand the default apps feature to cover more categories. Let me set different default apps for my calendar, calculator, photos, phone, and more.
Revamped Control Center
Lastly, I hope iOS 16 addresses something that hasn’t had a major update since the iPhone X. As it currently stands, iOS’s Control Center is a mess. It’s a hodgepodge of different controls with no real option to customize it. You can add/remove controls and change the order they appear in, but it’s extremely barebones for such a critical part of the iPhone.
But it doesn’t have to be this way. Apple could improve the Control Center by using some of the lessons it’s learned with home screen widgets. If users could freely change the placement of controls, adjust their size, and even add certain widgets, the Control Center would feel much better than it does today. Considering how important the Control Center is in daily use, it’s more than overdue for an overhaul.
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