It’s that time of year again, where tech peeps write up wishlists and predictions for the big, shiny tentpole features of the upcoming iOS release.
But! I think it’d be an interesting exercise to look at the other end of the spectrum, at some smaller-sized improvements — the little issues that feel like a pebble-in-your-shoe when you run into them, or small extensions of existing features that’d make them shine.
Often, these little-fixes are de-prioritized in any product organization — I’d bet that many of these are filed as a P3 or P4 in Apple’s bug-tracker. It’s totally reasonable that these have been hanging around — Apple’s engineers have lots of bigger fish to fry — but I’d love to see these issues resolved someday!
Unify “Create New Contact” & “Add to Existing Contact”
Picture this: You get a text message from an unknown number. Turns out, it’s your new friend Jesse! “Ah nice, let’s save that to my contacts info!”, you think. Ok, tap the contact, then… you face a choice: “Create New Contact” or “Add to Existing Contact” — which one should you tap? Did you already have a contact for Jesse, or do you need to make one?
If you’re like me, you try “Add to Existing Contact” first, search for the name “Jesse”, only to realize that no, you need to create a contact, so you tap back out, and summon the menu again: “Create New Contact”. Now you have a form to fill out!
Let’s do better! I’d love to see a unified “Add to Contacts” flow, where you type in “Jesse”, and it shows search results, along with a “Create New Contact” button. If you wind up creating a new contact, it’d be great to have autofilled suggestions. This way, you don’t have to duck in-and-out of fullscreen modal forms, and can instead just save the dang phone number without a lot of hassle.
Hide WiFi networks in Settings
If you’ve got neighbors nearby, you’ve got lots of WiFi networks in your Settings app. If you’re in an apartment, there might be dozens of ‘em! Sometimes the names are clever, and sometimes, they’re deeply obnoxious. I’d love a swipe-to-delete option in
Settings > WiFi that would hide these networks across all of my devices — it’d reduce clutter, since I never want to use these networks!
Siri should unlock FaceID sooner
Raise your phone, and ask Siri to open an app. Siri will say “You’ll need to unlock your iPhone first”, even though you’ve been looking at your phone for a while. Why doesn’t Siri start scanning my face as soon as it’s summoned?
Let me dial-back Siri’s personality
Most of the time, when Siri makes a joke, it’s because it misunderstood what I said. On HomePod, these misunderstandings are kinda awful for Siri, because the whole room is groaning at the lame, out-of-place joke. I’d rather it just… not! Can we get a setting to dial-back the humor setting to 75?
Move the volume UI to the status bar
Many times a day, I pull up a video (or long-press a Live Photo), and adjust the volume — prompting a screen-gobbling, non-dismissible volume-adjustment interface. Instead, I’d love it if Apple put a volume-adjustment slider in the top-right corner of the status bar (where Control Center lives). Third-party developers have been implementing this for a while - it’s time it becomes a system-standard. (I’ve seen rumors this change might be happening!)
Whitelist apps and contacts for Do Not Disturb
We have a few apps (for example, Owlet and Nest) that haven’t bothered to implement iOS 12’s Critical Alerts feature. I’d love it if these apps could bypass my device’s Do Not Disturb settings. Likewise, I ought to be able to whitelist all iMessage notifications for certain people, just like I can allow Favorites to call during Do Not Disturb.
Help me stay focused while using the device.
A major reason that I prefer reading on a Kindle is that the device doesn’t feel “hot” — it has no notifications. If I could easily enable a Focus Mode on my iOS devices, that’d do a lot to address this issue.
I’ve really enjoyed using Forest to kinda lock myself out of my phone for stretches of time — maybe I’m trying to read for a while, or focus on something for a bit. I’d love to see Screen Time adopt a “Focus Mode”, which would set the phone’s screen to grayscale and only allow my whitelisted apps.
Freshen up the sounds in Alarm and Timer
Take a spin through Clock.app and look at the sounds available for your timers and alarms. These sounds haven’t changed in years, and I don’t think they’ve aged very well. I’d love a refreshed set of choices for these! Apple’s got fantastic sound designers, and the timers and alarms on HomePod sound great. I think this area of iOS just needs a little love.1
Ignore non-responsive HomeKit devices
A neat part about HomeKit is that it lets you turn otherwise non-dimmable lights into dimmable ones, by replacing their bulbs with a Hue bulb. Yay!
However, if the lamp’s switch is off, and you say “Hey Siri, turn off all of my lights”, you’ll hear “I tried, but some devices are not responding.”
Non-responsive devices are treated like errors, and I’d rather I be able to ignore them instead - perhaps on a per-device basis. Just turn off the lights, thanks!
“Hey Siri, restart my HomePod”
We’ve got a stereo-pair of these in our main space, and they’re terrific. We use them constantly (mostly to play music and set timers) — but every once in a while, they get tangled up, and the solution is to unplug them from the wall for a bit.
HomePods have no power button — so as far as I can tell, the only way to restart them is to cut the power, which feels… not great. I’d love it if I could use a voice command instead.
Reduced white point at night
Night shift is great, but I’d like to go one step further: connect the Reduce White Point accessibility setting to it. This setting makes your phone much darker, which is excellent for night-time use.
Send reminders in iMessage
“Remind my brother tomorrow that it’s dad’s birthday”. “Remind my mom to pick up the cake when she leaves her house”. It’d be wonderful if I could send somebody a reminder over iMessage! I’m sure there would have to be some kind of permissions thing around it, but imagine it: you could compose and send a reminder to someone, with attachments, triggers, and everything, and they could import it into their Reminders app.
Improve Apple Music’s infrastructure
Why can’t I add something to Up Next while I’m playing a radio station? Perhaps the queue system and the radio stations aren’t compatible data types?
Also — can we take a look at the bit rot in Apple Music? So often, I’ll find that one of my favorite albums has the “Add” button a the top — why can’t Apple Music remember which albums are in my collection?
I have a feeling that there’s a common cause for these concerns — that the infrastructure underneath Apple Music is long-overdue for some love.
So… that’s it for my nitfixes! I know these aren’t headliner features, but they’d improve my day-to-day experience a great deal. Fingers-crossed we see some of these improvements in the famous “word-cloud” summary slide next month!
While we’re at it, how about support for timers and alarms on macOS? ↩