Rohan Naravane Jun 01, 2018 10:10:34 IST
Every year, Apple hosts the Worldwide Developer Conference (WWDC), where the company showcases updates to its software platforms. On 4 June, which marks the beginning of WWDC 2018, we will know what features and improvements iOS 12, macOS 10.14, watchOS 5 and tvOS 12 will bring to Apple’s devices.
Typically, Apple manages to keep new features under wraps, presumably because the software is largely created in-house (unlike hardware like the iPhone, which is manufactured outside the US using multiple third-party suppliers). What we’ve largely heard is that this year amid criticism, Apple will focus more on fixing bugs and other issues instead of launching more features.
But there are a few rumors floating out there — one suggests that the company will finally open the NFC chips in iPhones and Apple Watches to be used beyond Apple Pay (things like unlock doors opened by access cards). Or how there will be improvements to Siri, ARKit, Apple Health, Parental Controls, Facetime, Animoji and the Do Not Disturb mode.
Having said that, there are a lot of changes Apple users have been hoping for — be it fixing something that’s broken or bringing in a much-requested feature. Today, let's take a look the top things people have been asking for, and how much of it gets materialised (spoiler alert: people almost never get everything they’ve asked for).
Probably the biggest thing people want fixed in iOS 12 is Notification Center. Right now, the way iPhones handle notifications is a royal mess, especially when compared to Android. Each notification spawns a new entry, instead of intelligently clubbing multiple ones from the same app (like how WhatsApp conversations from one person are clubbed into one card on Android). There’s no easy way to dismiss them, and it’s easy to accidentally trigger the camera while clearing them by swiping. And because there’s no app-based sorting, you can’t even dismiss notifications from one app in one go — only clear all notifications entirely.
If that wasn’t enough, since iOS 11 Apple implemented “Earlier Today”, frankly an unnecessary segregation that makes notifications you’ve seen but not responded to hidden beneath a swipe up gesture.
The next thing people are looking forward to in iOS is a system-wide dark mode. Since the iPhone X, Apple has switched to OLED displays — so having it would not only look good on those displays, but also help the iPhone save power.
Epic Siri Fail. Unable to find and play a hugely influential and popular song that’s right in Apple Music. A tale in 3 screenshots. pic.twitter.com/AeS4lIZXED
— Walt Mossberg (@waltmossberg) May 26, 2018
Lastly, almost nobody will deny that Siri needs a shot in the arm as well. It’s just sad that the digital assistant that paved the way for others even today fails at processing simple queries some times. Seeing what Google Assistant can do in terms of understanding your query well, or Amazon Alexa can do in terms of third-party integrations, it’s only natural that the default, irreplaceable Siri also gets up to speed.
There isn’t as much public outrage over what Apple’s legacy computing platform should fix, as its mobile-centric sibling. But late last year, there was a very interesting rumour about the possibility of iOS apps running on Macs. Unfortunately, it is speculated that this feature is being pushed to 2019. But if nothing else, this could be the biggest improvement to macOS that many would love, and I dearly hope it comes out soon.
That’s because the Mac App Store isn’t as richly populated as its iOS counterpart. Apps like WhatsApp don’t have all the features of the mobile version (like voice and video calling or image annotations). Then there are apps that don’t exist on the Mac App Store at all — like Netflix, Hotstar, Gaana, Saavn, and YouTube.
If you could run the same iOS version of these apps on a Mac, you could do things like download videos or songs which you can’t using the web versions today. Even the Twitter for Mac app (which the company officially shut down) was abominable and the experience of using the mobile version on the Mac would be so much better, at least in theory.
With the near disappearance of WearOS (previously known as Android Wear) devices, smartwatches is one domain where Apple has steadily maintained the lead. But while the Apple Watch Series 3 brought faster hardware to the table, the software still isn’t as smooth functioning as it should be — especially with apps. This is possibly the biggest improvement existing owners will hope for with watchOS 5.
Even today, many watch apps take so long to open that it would rather be faster to remove your iPhone from the pocket and get things do. And then there’s the case of apps that existed on watchOS before, but don’t today. Apps like Google Maps, Lyft, Twitter, Amazon, Instagram, eBay — some of which were extremely useful — have slowly exited the watchOS platform. If there’s one big problem Apple needs to address for its smartwatch platform, it’s this.
Apart from this, another often-heard request is the possibility to install third-party watch faces. Apparently, hidden code inside watchOS 4.3 suggests that this might actually happen.
This is the newest and comparatively slower-evolving platform that powers the Apple TV box. While the previous tvOS update brought some features (most notably, a dark mode), this year there are a few items eager users have in their wishlist. First would be a Picture-in-Picture (PIP) mode, which like the iPad, would allow a video to play in a small foreground window giving users the ability to browse other things in the background. Although this may be a tricky one to pull off, since the Apple TV remote doesn’t exactly have the multi-touch capabilities of an iPad screen to move windows around easily.
The next requested feature is a dedicated Home app, which would allow controlling HomeKit enabled electronics using the Apple TV. tvOS users would also love a video-centric version of the Apple News app on their iPhone (which unfortunately is available only in a few countries at the moment). Other requested features include support for Dolby Atmos, Netflix integration with the TV app, and an updated Remote app for Apple Watch.
But the most important feature tvOS could have which would impact nearly every owner is multiple profile. Unlike a phone, a TV is generally a shared entity in a household. So, it only makes sense for Apple to support multiple profiles, such that users can securely log into an interface that is tailored for their use.
So, which of these improvements you’d like to see on your Apple device?
Only a few days to go before all is revealed, so sound off in the comments below!
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