Pixel Envy

Written by Nick Heer.

WWDC 2020 Wish Lists

Becky Hansmeyer included a bunch of SwiftUI wishes, but I picked a couple of things from the “Everything Else” section that I am also hoping to see this year:

A system-wide color picker in iOS. It’s bananas that I can’t select some text in Apple Notes on my iPad and change its color. From what I can tell, every single Mac app has access to the color picker.

The MacOS colour picker is a gem of a system component and something I miss dearly when working on any other operating system. Yes, please.

A revamped iPad multitasking system (yep, just do it again until it’s right) that isn’t big ol’ hot mess. Make it so my 4-year-old can figure it out.

I desperately want to see this cracked. I wonder how many users of moderate technical literacy can figure out how the current multitasking system works — not many, I bet. I’m not sure it will ever be usable by young children, but I’m not confident that I fully understand the current system, and I use my iPad a lot.

Stuart Breckenridge (via Michael Tsai):

  • Messages should have feature parity with its iOS counterpart, and improved search

  • FaceTime Group Calling needs an overhaul to match group calling features of competitors (at the very least, a static grid view)

These are both off Breckenridge’s MacOS wish list, which he guesses will be named Anacapa. My money is on Avalon.

Gus Mueller kept it simple:

My WWDC 2020 MacOS Wishlist

It’s now spelled with a capital M.

The true crime is the capitalization of “iPadOS”.

For what it’s worth, there are a couple of things that I would like to see this year:

  • Some indication — anything — that Siri is a priority. The wholly-generated voice that shipped with iOS 13 is a welcome improvement; it sounds so much better, particularly with more complex words.

    But Siri’s ability to respond accurately and as expected remains terrible. I know that all voice-based assistants have their weak spots, but my experience with Siri is that it cannot be trusted to do anything more than set timers and create reminders.

    Also, given its intentions and promised capabilities, Siri ought to be a tentpole feature for accessibility. Given its proclivity to behave unexpectedly, it’s just not there yet. Voice Control is wildly impressive; Siri ought to be, too.

  • An indication that “iPadOS” is more than just a name. It seems to me that a great reason to rename the iPad’s operating system is to indicate that it is no longer a bigger and slightly different version of the operating system that’s used on the iPhone. I’d like to see evidence of this.

    A great place to start might be in the management of background tasks. Here is an example I’m sure I’ve used before but cannot seem to find right now: I had three tabs open in Safari when an email came in with an attached contract I needed to sign. I switched over to Mail to save the PDF locally, switched to Files to put it in the correct place, signed it using the Markup extension, then switched back to Mail to reply with the signed copy. And then I switched back to Safari and all my tabs had to reload.

    I try to be cautious with how Mac-like the iPad should be. I recognize that it is a different platform with different expectations, so I don’t necessarily think that the iPad should just clone everything the Mac does. There are plenty of great reasons this does not happen and ought to be avoided. But, still, I have never switched between a few Mac apps and had Safari behave as though it was freshly launched. I would like to be able to switch between apps on my iPad without frequently triggering full reloads.

    Another pet peeve of mine is how poorly many system features use the space offered by today’s giant iPad displays. Siri should not consume the entire screen; neither should Notification Centre, for that matter, with a single column of summarized banners.

These are two areas that Apple often pushes as being emblematic of its strategy for the future, but which it has struggled to move forward in my view. My experiences with Siri and my iPad are not nearly as optimistic as Apple projects.

My other wish for WWDC is a noticeable focus on quality: fewer bugs, less waiting, better fit and finish, and no catastrophes when upgrading. The tick-tock cycle of feature-heavy releases followed by refinement versions is a horrible strategy that does neither effectively. I would like to see this acknowledged in some regard as an ongoing priority for every release. That’s not going to happen, but that’s what wish lists are for: the things you really want.