I started thinking about what my hopes were for iOS 16, and the ways I think iOS could be improved. Mostly with the intention to end up with one of the stereotypical wish list posts that most bloggers write about this time of year. Nevertheless, I could only think of six things. All of them inspired by my recent use of the Google Pixel 6 and Android 12.
That isn’t to say that these are the only things that will excite me about iOS 16, they’re just the only ways I can see iOS 16 improving. I’m sure there are various ways in which Apple could innovate, and bring something new to the OS. However, the OS has, without doubt, matured, and every year there’s a lot less low-hanging-fruit. Which is probably why innovation seems to have slowed (for both iOS and Android), and changes seem to be either iterative or being adaptations of existing capabilities of another OS.
With that in mind, here are the six things that are inspired by Android 12, that I think Apple should bring to iOS 16:
Some form of universal messaging support. Whether it is iMessage for Android (which I think is unlikely), or the adoption of RCS as a fallback instead of SMS. It’s clear that communication between iOS and Android devices shouldn’t be via SMS.
Freeform Home Screen layouts. There are many things that made me give the Pixel 6 a try, but a main one was the same old Home Screen. There’s been the addition of widgets, but everything still needs to follow the same grid structure. And for some reason, you can’t just put an icon where you want. Which seems stupid to me, since the size of phones nowadays are pretty large.
Multiple audio channels. This isn’t something that I’m desperate for, but it’s certainly irritating for me when you go to a website and a video/ad starts playing automatically and your song stops. Imagine going to a website on your Mac and an autoplaying video, stopping the song you’re listening to. Also, you should be able to alter the volume of specific apps/channels.
New widget sizes. Widgets are cool, but I don’t think the information density warrants them such a big place on the Home Screen. Why does the weather forecast need to take up the space of 4 app icons? A 2×1 and 1×1 size option would be very much appreciated by me. And I’ve also greatly appreciate resizable widgets, rather than fixed sizes that you have to replace manually.
Better notification grouping. For me, Android has always had better notification support than iOS. But something I find very useful when I use my Pixel is the grouping of notifications. As in, a certain app can have have multiple categories of notifications, which the user can control individually. Which means you can turn off some of the more marketing style notifications, and keep the important ones.
Auto-unlock in safe locations. This is a feature of Android that I love. The Pixel 6 that I use has a fingerprint sensor in the screen, and while it’s pretty fast, it’s not instant. However, there’s a “Smart Unlock” feature, that allows you to add trusted places, where your phone will always stay unlocked. I know Apple like to tie a lot of this auto-unlock stuff to the Apple Watch, but I don’t wear one of those. I’d like just like to have my phone unlocked whenever I’m at home.
Those are the improvements that I can think of, but I’m sure there are a ton of others. So fingers-crossed they announce something exciting at WWDC!