We’re at that lull in the year where Apple is announcing very little, but back at its headquarters, software developers and designers are working like mad to get everything in place for WWDC in June. While there’s no official word on a date, it’s almost certain Apple will use the first week of the month to host a crowd of developers and tech journalists in its usual venue at the Yerba Buena center in San Francisco. Last year, it sold out within the first couple of minutes. This year, it’ll be more of the same.
As for what we’ll see there, going on history, we’ll probably see brand new versions of iOS and OS X announced. But what new features will they include? Here’s what I want to see:
1. Touch ID expansion to third parties
Apple’s implementation of a fingerprint sensor is fantastic. So far, it’s the only one that’s useful and – more importantly – unavoidable. It’s embedded in the home button, the only button the iPhone’s had on its front since its introduction in 2007. We all use it every day, so placing a sensor there is obviously brilliant. But – at the same time – it’s so restricted.
When coming up with its designs and feature set, I can guarantee you that Apple’s team didn’t once think it would be developing a tool that only unlocked a phone and authorized downloads. Even then, it only does one of those tasks in a frustration-free manner. I still get asked every day for my password in the App Store when I try to download an app or redeem a code. Unlocking my phone, however, is instantaneous almost every time.
Like a lot of new products from Apple, it has a ton of potential. What it needs is the ability for third party developers to build in authorization in to their apps. I’m thinking mobile banking, PayPal, eBay, even email or any secure locker app like 1Password or LastPass. The challenge here is being able to do it without the companies themselves getting hold of your fingerprint. The solution: building in some kind of “yes/no” mechanism within the iOS framework.
Process would go something like (in a split second):
- App asks for you to place your finger on the Touch ID sensor
- App asks your device if it matches
- iOS checks with your secure enclave
- Comes back with “yes” or “no” answer
If Apple is planning to roll out Touch ID to other iOS devices, this expansion is an absolute must.
2. Improved Keyboard and Predictive Text (or third party installation)
In my Monday Moan earlier this week I complained about the iOS keyboard. It’s been virtually unchanged since it was launched on the iPhone in 2007. I have auto-correct switched off, because its suggestions are normally always wrong. And there’s nothing worse than going back over every other word to correct it, especially if you’re typing in a language not supported by iOS’ short list.
There are a couple of ways this could be improved. Firstly – in true Apple style – the company could use elements of other companies’ software keyboards and implement them itself. This could be offering up suggestions for your next words like BB10 or SwiftKey do, learning your most common phrases along the way.
Secondly – and unlikely – Apple could open up the iOS system for third parties to install their own keyboards. Imagine if you could go in to the App Store and chose from list of great virtual keyboards (obviously approved by Cupertino first). I’d be happy if SwiftKey was there, or if BlackBerry decided it would be a good way to make some more money, since its hardware sales are tanking.
3. Make Siri always listening
“Okay Galaxy” or a similar command with a lot of new Android devices makes using voice-controlled functions so much easier than having to do something as archaic as press and hold a button for a few seconds. Or perhaps worse (depending on your personal opinion), having “raise to speak” switched on and having to lift your iPhone to your ear to speak to Siri as if it’s a real person on the other side of a phone call.
No. What I’d love is leave my phone on my desk, or wherever it is, and just bark “Hey Siri, you don’t mind checking if Tottenham Hotspur are winning do you?” and have it respond with “Yes, Lord Vader* – they’re beating Arsenal 2-0.” It’s convenient, easy, intuitive.
*I make Siri call me Lord Vader. You can do the same thing by giving it the command “Call me [desired name here]”
4. Google Now integration
I know. Not going to happen. Over the past year or so, it’s become increasingly clear that with Now, Google has created something truly incredible. By using your Gmail account, it knows when your orders are shipping, it knows when your flights are leaving, it knows where you’re going next before you remember. It’s one of the most useful products I’ve ever used. In fact, I open up the Google Search app all the time just to use it. Traveling over to MWC in Barcelona at the end of February would have been much harder without it.
Sadly, Apple and Google’s relationship has soured recently. Apple removed the YouTube app from its default native apps and switched to its own Maps app vs. Google’s. So the chances of having it integrated in to iOS, in Notification Center or otherwise, is a pipe dream – to say the least.
5. “Pro” camera feature set
I love the iPhone’s camera. In fact, it’s hard to find anything on the market that takes pictures that turn out as well as the iPhone’s. Its processor, lenses and sensor all combine to create a wonderful end result. And it’s all automatic. You just have to point and shoot. But sometimes, you’d like to have a little more control.
One example is the Nokia Lumia range, the 1020 in particular. Its user interface lets you have control over every little detail before you shoot. Whether that’s changing the ISO, contrast, focus point, saturation, shutter speed. Whatever. I know there are several apps on the App Store that do the same thing for the iPhone. Camera+ as an example. But it’d be so much easier to have built within the iOS default camera UI.
As for implementation, Apple clearly won’t want to upset the hoards of non-tech/photo savvy users that make use of its devices. So, I’m thinking really simply: Add it as an extra camera type within the app. We already have Square, Panorama, Video and Camera, why not add “Pro”? Then all you’d have to do is swipe across to get to the professional camera option.
What would you like to see Apple implement on the software side of iOS? Are my requests lining up with yours? Let me know in the comments or tweet me: @TiP_Cam