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8 features I would like to see Apple announce at WWDC 2021

Apple’s annual developer conference, WWDC aka dub-dub, starts next Monday. For those unfamiliar with it, it’s like I / O, but for the Apple ecosystem, and that’s where the company announces new software versions and capabilities for the entire product range. Over the last couple of years, I’ve been keeping an eye on the main keys and news coming out of WWDC for a number of reasons: I’ve been a Mac user for 13 years, I’ve had several iPods and iPads, and I really like good to be up to date with the entire mobile and technology landscape – not just Google. This year, I think about the conference in advance and wonder what features I would like to see from Apple.

This wishlist will look a little different than the ones you will see written by Apple users and editors, as I get to it from the perspective of an Android first (and foremost) user. There are things I wish iOS would get, so it would be more on par with Android, things I would like to see it offer to surpass Android and push Google further, and things that will really make it own both Google and Apple products simpler.

iMessage on Android

I know it̵

7;s not happening, but I could not do it wishwithout wishing you a proper iMessage client on Android. It sucks that a communication platform so much used is limited to one platform, it sucks that Apple locks families and users into the ecosystem with just one service (even though it provides perfect business understanding), and it sucks that iMessage helps create exclusive clubs where children – and even adults – feel excluded or bullied if they own an Android device. If the problem was just a matter of chatting with people, I would not mention this desire, but at this point, iMessage has become an elitist clique’s best / worst weapon, and it’s time to stop.

Multiple interactive widgets

We have had widgets on Android for more than a decade, but they have lately become laughable in our society. Many new apps have given them up, others ignored theirs (watching you, Spotify) or better yet, killed them. It was only when Apple announced widgets for iOS 14 that we saw a renewed interest in our site, which prompted Google to revise and re-evaluate widgets in Android 12.

However, Apple’s performance is not without flaws and limitations. At the moment, iOS widgets are too large (at least 2×2) and are pretty bare bones: you can not have music playback controls, drop-down lists, checkboxes, switches, swipes or advanced interactions. You can just tap specific targets in a widget, and that’s about it. Good for a v1 product, but v2 should provide more size options and options for widgets in iOS 15, which will hopefully push Google further.

Miracast or Google Cast support

If you have an iPhone or iPad, you have probably noticed that AirPlay does not recognize Chromecast or Android TV as a potential target. You can cast from apps that add Google’s API, but not at the OS level, so you can not share full screen or just AirPlay apps. Although it’s a strange query, I’d like it if Apple snuck into more compatibility with Google’s streaming protocol, just as if I wanted Android devices to be able to AirPlay naturally. I prefer that my technology played nicely together, instead of putting sticks in my wheels, so that I can share the screen of any device on any screen wirelessly and without much friction. One could hope, right?

Third-party apps in the Control Center

Apple’s similar Quick Settings on Android offer several useful switches, but it has been limited to the company’s own functionality ever since it was introduced. I wish third-party apps could plug into it, just like they do on Android, so I can turn on my VPN, use my favorite note or task app, or even launch my favorite shortcut from downtown without going to the home screen first.

Proper universal back movement

I honestly did not know that my iPad had a back movement until someone told me. It works… in a way… in some apps, but it is clumsy, inconsistent and disrupts many apps. For the operating system that led the motion, this does not sound right. I would like Apple to implement a real back motion so that everyone stops looking for the little back button on the far left of the apps.

Smarter alerts

Rumor has it that Apple plans to modernize alerts on iOS 15, and it can not come soon enough. The whole experience is horrible on iOS. Grouping is virtually non-existent, channels are not supported, smart actions are nowhere to be found, and you end up actively ignoring or passively missing many alerts. There is a need for a full thought, and users should be able to choose what to notify exactly in each app. I love that I can disable certain channels on Android, but keep the most important alerts from an app. Granted, the system is not perfect, but it allows me to filter out lots of unnecessary pings. Apple should use a similar approach.

But more importantly, I’m really looking forward to seeing if Apple could completely reinvent alert handling. My phone should be smart enough to realize that I have already seen a message elsewhere and reject the redundant alert. it should deliver on-site alerts depending on what I do, and appeared less important when I have more time in the evening; and it should remind me of an important warning I rejected and did not act on. Our phones have an omnipotent look at the whole context of life, so why do they continue to treat all alerts the same way, no matter where we are or what we do? I feel that Apple can bring a whole new approach here and force developers to adapt.

More standard apps

iOS 14 currently supports setting default browsers and email clients, so you can switch from Safari and Apple Mail, respectively. As a Google services user, I can choose Chrome and Gmail to handle any URL or email instance on my iPad. But I would like these standard categories to be extended to calendar, gallery and map apps as well. Whether you’re like me and want to add these to Google Calendar, Photos and Maps, or whether you prefer other third party services, it does not matter. More choices for the user are often a good thing.

Better keyboard experience

iOS users do not know how bad they are with the Apple keyboard. It’s a terrible experience, and it lacks so many features that it’s ridiculous. No swipe, no GIF introduction, no number row, no multilingual input, no on-site translations, and I could go on and on. This is an app you use all day, no matter what other app you are in, and it’s horrible. A major upgrade is urgently needed there for everyone.

Although I doubt that many of these can be addressed at this year’s WWDC, it’s nice to think about what might be. Even if none of them come to fruition, I’m still looking forward to seeing Apple offer more with its Home app, Shortcuts, Siri, pushing the entire ecosystem integration further. It’s fascinating to see what the company can do and how closely it can tie things together because it controls the whole experience from phones to tablets, computers, TVs, watches, speakers and more.

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