At its annual developer conference, Apple Monday will announced the 10th edition of iOS, its mobile operating system with a range of new features — but as it celebrates its 10th birthday what are the features iPhone and iPad users really want to see.
Just getting to the 10th iteration of anything is a milestone to be celebrated, and while Apple is not expected to mark the occasion with a huge overhaul of the way the software looks and works, it is a time to look at where iOS could go in the future and what ways Apple could develop its interface.
Apple’s voice activated digital assistant Siri will be the big star at the Worldwide Developer Conference (WWDC). After five years on the iPhone and four years on the iPad, Siri is in need of an overhaul, and allowing it integrate with third-party apps would be a huge boon for users. To compete with Google and Microsoft in the coming years, Siri is going to have to be a lot more powerful and allow users to control their phones and tablets fully with their voices.
Apple pioneered the idea of a homescreen with a grid of apps that Google’s Android followed (though with fewer constraints). It has never allowed widgets to invade the homscreen but for iPad users the limitations of the homscreen layout has become a big restriction. With the launch of the 12-inch iPad Pro last year, iPad now has a mobile form factor closer to a laptop than a tablet and so needs to offer those users the option of changing the layout of the homescreen. Whether this will be an option in iOS 10 is unclear, but at some point Apple will have to address the issue.
There are whispers there will be some significant announcements around Apple’s messaging service, including the possibility Apple will allow customers to send money to each other through the system using Apple Pay — a hugely popular service on other messaging apps like Line and WeChat, particularly in China. Another rumor says iMessage could finally make its way to Android though considering the potential privacy implications of this because of security issues, that might be a stretch.
What Apple does need to look at is what companies like Google and Facebook are doing around artificial intelligence-powered bots and decide if it needs to address this issue. With a more powerful Siri, powered by the learning technology it acquired with the purchase of Vocal IQ last year, Apple certainly has the capability to do this. It’s just a question of if and when it will do it.
While the iPhone has been credited with revolutionizing the mobile phone industry in a positive way, it has also revolutionized the compact camera industry in a less positive way. The camera on Apple’s iPhone is widely seen as among the best on offer on any smartphone, and yet the range of features the app allows you use is very limiting.
Apple purposely makes the Camera app simple to use, allowing you switch among various modes (photo, video, square, slow-mo and time lapse) simply by swiping left or right. Unlike the apps on smartphones from Samsung, Sony and Huawei, there is no professional or manual mode, which allows settings to be changed on a granular level. While most users appreciate the simplicity of Apple’s camera app, there is a growing group of users who want to get more from their smartphone cameras, and so a professional mode makes a lot of sense.
According to some reports Apple is toying with the idea of eliminating music downloads from iTunes completely and going streaming only. That won’t happen next week, but it is an indication of the way Apple is thinking about music in the future. To get to that point ubiquitous connectivity will be needed meaning it is likely still some years away, but removing the need to have music stored locally sounds like the future in a world where cloud computing dominates.
Next week Apple will show off a redesign of iTunes (again) and Apple Music to try to make the interface cleaner and easier to navigate. It could well eliminate the Connect section altogether as it has been pretty much a complete failure.