Here’s what I hope to see at WWDC24 [Wish list]

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WWDC24 Wish List
Here’s what I want to see from WWDC.
Image: Arne Müseler/Wikimedia Commons/Apple

Apple reportedly will focus heavily on AI when it announces the next major versions of all its operating systems Monday at WWDC24. Everyone expects an upgraded Siri, summaries that’ll catch you up on a flurry of notifications, image editing that can cut out parts of a picture and the like. But none of that is on my WWDC wish list.

Personally, I’m not convinced that Apple needs to go all-in on AI (or “Apple Intelligence,” as it reportedly will be called). I’d rather see fundamental fixes and long-missing features finally added. Plus, I find Apple’s rumored partnership with OpenAI, of all companies, pretty troubling.

Here’s my WWDC24 wish list of everything I hope Cupertino has been cooking up. Read the full list below or sit back and watch the video.

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My WWDC24 wish list

iPhone & iPad

Improvements to Files. File management is absolutely fundamental to working on a Mac or PC. The Finder is the root of the Mac in the same way that the Home Screen is the root level of the iPhone and iPad. The Files app is like a playground sandbox compared to the construction zone that is the Finder.

I know Apple doesn’t (and shouldn’t) expose the real file system of your iPhone here, but there’s still much room for more.

iPad image edited with a Dynamic Island
A Dynamic Island-esque feature on the iPad could be the missing piece to run background tasks safely.
Image: Apple/D. Griffin Jones/Cult of Mac

Background tasks on iPad. iOS and iPadOS are very strict about what apps are allowed to do in the background. It’s understandable: In these devices’ early days, battery life and limited processing power was a constant balancing act. But when the iPad Pro can do free multi-window multitasking on an external display with Stage Manager — and when it has a newer chip inside it than any Mac currently for sale — it’s frustrating that you can’t minimize Final Cut Pro without canceling a video export, for example.

I’m sure Apple engineers are scared that users will start a big, CPU-intense process that’ll eat away at the tablet’s battery without realizing it’s happening, because it’s no longer on-screen. But Apple already invented a method for showing background tasks on the iPhone. It’s called the Dynamic Island. I think this concept would scale nicely to the iPad, with its spacious display.

Ethical AI features. Everyone knows that AI features are coming to Apple’s platforms, and there’s no stopping it. If Apple is going to play the game, the company ought to do it right. I want Apple to ethically justify all of the features it rolls out. Where the training data came from, whether it’s private and safe, how I can trust the results, and what the energy impact is. I’m afraid Apple executives are under too much pressure to make that happen.

Apple is in a lose-lose situation. The AI optimists who cheer behind generative tools like Sora, ChatGPT and Suno aren’t going to be impressed with the features rumored to come. The AI skeptics who are critical of how this technology is being created, powered and used are going to (justifiably) take issue with Apple’s rumored partnership with OpenAI. Investors don’t want Apple to fall behind the curve; engineers don’t want to take time away from their work to rush out half-baked features that don’t deserve the Apple brand.

iOS 16 will make dictation far less cumbersome
Dictation has been getting better, slowly but surely. Keep up the pace … or, ideally, speed it up.
Screenshot: Apple

Keep improving dictation. The new speech-to-text system introduced in iOS 17 was a good fresh start, but there’s still much room for improvement. Automatic punctuation is far from perfect. It looks for proper nouns (like Hass instead of has) in completely inappropriate contexts. Most frustratingly, since it continues to process what you’ve said for a few moments after you’ve stopped speaking, it can revert part of the text to something wrong in the microsecond before your thumb taps Send.

MacWhisper has spoiled me with its state-of-the-art speech-to-text capabilities. As Cupertino proudly points out, every Apple chip comes with a powerful neural processing unit inside. I know dictation can be done better, even on-device, because I use a better tool on my Mac every week for subtitling videos.

Using Maccy to paste text into a Pages document
Clipboard managers are a game-changer for productivity.
Screenshot: D. Griffin Jones/Cult of Mac

A clipboard manager. Clipboard managers are truly life-changing. If you don’t have one on your Mac, install Maccy right now. The fact that you can only copy and paste one thing at a time on a Mac is as crazy to me as saying you can only undo and redo one thing at a time. If Apple isn’t going to allow third-party developers to make clipboard managers, there should at least be an Apple solution.

iPhone on Standby
StandBy is neat on the iPhone, but it would really sing on an iPad.
Photo: D. Griffin Jones/Cult of Mac

StandBy on iPad. StandBy is one of the neatest features to come to iPhone. It would truly shine on the iPad, with room for loads more widgets and interesting designs. You could turn an iPad into a status board for your life that sits in the kitchen, or a Stream Deck-style panel of Shortcuts that sits next to your Mac.

Vision Pro WWDC wish list

Vision Pro and battery sitting on pine table
I don’t regret my purchase, but Apple could do more to make me feel good about it.
Photo: D. Griffin Jones/Cult of Mac

More signs of commitment to the visionOS platform. This is the first time Apple has faced a truly uphill battle with an all-new software platform in a long time. The Vision Pro needs native apps to make it sing. Right now, I don’t see a lot of developer interest. There’s an easy way Apple can demonstrate that its headset really is the future of computing, that Apple is going to give visionOS the attention it needs to:

More native apps. As it is, the Vision Pro headset comes with iPad versions of apps like Mail, Podcasts, Calendar and more. They’re fine, but native Vision apps are where it’s at. Mundane apps like Music or Mail look absolutely gorgeous on Vision Pro. Apple frequently says that if you stick to its own development tools, Swift and SwiftUI, that making native apps for every platform is easy. It should take only a little bit of extra work to turn an iPhone app into an iPad app or a Mac app. But that’s hard to believe when Apple’s own apps often debut exclusively on iPhone.

Integrate with the iPhone. My iPhone can unlock my Apple Watch when I first put it on. When I sit down in my office, my Apple Watch can unlock my Mac. When I’m wearing a face mask, my Apple Watch can unlock my iPhone. But when I’m wearing a Vision Pro, I have to type in my passcode every single time. It’s infuriating.

Call forwarding. I love being able to answer a phone call from my Mac when I’m at my desk. It’s a nice convenience — I don’t have to take off my headphones and pick up my phone. Answering a phone call when I’m wearing my Vision Pro is much more disruptive. You really ought to be careful taking the headset on and off — putting it down in the wrong place can be an expensive mistake. Add in a ringing phone to the situation and you can see how it gets stressful. Apple should fix this by allowing you to answer calls in Vision Pro.

Vision Pro Home View Apps
It’s time for a better app view.
Image: Apple

Bigger, customizable app view. The Vision Pro’s Home screen feels like a placeholder. Apple understood that people weren’t going to fill it with hundreds of apps on day one, so it was kept simple. Every page shows only 13 icons. The first page contains stock Apple apps; all third-party apps are arranged in alphabetical order.

Apple should let Vision Pro owners make folders, rearrange them, and show more at once. When wearing the headset, I have the inner 75% of my entire field of view available to me — and yet I see fewer icons than on an iPhone 3GS.

Reduce the motion blur and image smoothing. The Vision Pro adds noticeable motion blur when you move your head around. It fuzzes over individual pixels on the screen. I’m sure there are reasons why it is this way — because comfort and reducing eye strain are so important on a device like this — but it feels over-corrective. Even with my prescription lenses, the screen looks a bit blurry.

Improvements to window management. Right now, visionOS treats windows like physical objects. They stay where you put them. Close an app in your living room, and that’s where it’ll be the next time you open it. But if hours have gone by since I’ve last used Slack in my office, and I’m now making dinner in the kitchen, I don’t want Slack to open in the next room over. Anytime I open an app, it’s because I want to look at it … right now.

Vision Pro virtual environment / volume dials.
One dial controls both features.
Screenshot: D. Griffin Jones/Cult of Mac

Customizable Digital Crown. You can spin the Digital Crown on the top of the headset to adjust one of two things: the Immersive Space you’re in and the current audio volume. By default, it always adjusts the Immersive Space. To change the volume, you have to spin it a little bit, look at the Volume icon, then spin it the rest of the way. I almost never use the Vision Pro’s virtual environments, but I play music, podcasts and videos at least 90% of the time I’m wearing the headset. It frustrates me endlessly when I’m trying to turn up the volume during a quiet song and I accidentally open a tiny portal to the moon.

Mac WWDC wish list

Every Apple silicon Mac lined up
I have a short list of wants for the Mac.
Photo: Apple

Bring the Journal app to Mac. I loved diving deep into the Journal app when it was released, but I’ve barely used it since. I simply spend far more hours in front of my Mac instead of my iPhone. If I have a story to write, I want to type it out on a physical keyboard.

Fix notifications. Notifications on the Mac have actively gotten worse over time. In the past, when you got a text, you could click on a text box and instantly type a response. Now, you need to carefully position the mouse over a tiny button that’s invisible until you hover over it, click, select “Show More” from a dropdown menu (which doesn’t even make sense as a description), click, then type in your reply and hit Return. While we’re at it, the Notification Center on the Mac is simply ridiculous. Why can I only see three notifications at a time on my big desktop display?

Finer control over Photos tagging. I lovingly curate my photo library. I take the time every few weeks to tag photos with faces and sort things into albums. I’d really like more manual control.

  • Back in iPhoto, I could bring up a list of every untagged face and every unnamed person. Right now, I must go through images picture by picture and look for them manually.
  • If I search for “car” or “laptop,” I get a bunch of photos that some machine-learning algorithm recognized. But if I see some false positives, I can’t correct the AI and improve the results over time.

Apple Watch WWDC wish list

Apple Watch SE 2 bargains
There are countless analog Apple Watch faces, and a couple good ones.
Photo: Apple

More different watch faces. Look, I’ve come to terms with it by now. If Apple hasn’t figured out how to do custom watch faces in 10 years, I know we’re probably never getting this capability. But if Apple is the only watch face designer, I want Cupertino to break the mold. The most interesting new Apple Watch faces are exclusive to the Apple Watch Ultra, but I don’t want or need a giant watch.

Apple TV

Tetris playing on an old TV
This isn’t coming from an old Nintendo — it’s being played on an iPhone.
Photo: D. Griffin Jones/Cult of Mac

Output to 4:3. If I want to AirPlay old video games from my iPhone to the TV from Delta, or if I want to watch old episodes of Doctor Who or Star Trek, I hook up my Apple TV to an appropriately old Zenith television using an HDMI to RF adapter. But the Apple TV only outputs in widescreen. That means I must stretch the image out to the correct aspect ratio. But then, I can’t see the left or right sides of the Apple TV user interface. Is this a common use case? Well … no. But what else is the tvOS team doing?

Follow us for our real WWDC coverage

Apple’s actual announcements will come in short order at 10 a.m. Pacific on Monday. Want to stream it live? Find out how to watch the WWDC24 keynote.

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