Top iOS 15 Feature Wishlist
8 min read • 1561 words
- Additional Privacy Enhancements
- Home Screen
- App Library
- Contexts & Automated Context Switching
- U1-Enabled Room-Level Automations
Last year, I shared a huge wishlist for iOS 15 and macOS 12. I'm holding out hope for many of those features to be announced at next week's WWDC.
We have had a whole year to play with iOS 14. In that time, Apple has released the HomePod Mini, AirTag, among other products. What's that mean? My wishlist has grown.
The purpose of this post is to share my top new wishlist entries since last year's post.
Last year, Apple did a lot to enhance user privacy in iOS. Despite Facebook pouting about it all year, Apple's new anti-tracking features were very well received.
Last year, Apple introduced fine-grained control of access to user photos. I wrote up an overview of that feature here. Apple desperately needs to do the same thing for contacts! Some apps refuse to function if you don't grant contact access, which is all or none in iOS 14. Social media websites like Facebook and Clubhouse upload and store your entire address book to their servers the moment you grant this access, and there is nothing you can do about it.
Granting an app access to your contacts grants access to all of your contact data. As of iOS 13, this excludes notes data, but Facebook likely has your neighbor's garage code if you stored it in the notes field and granted them contact access prior to iOS 13. Yeah, you read that right, any personal information your friends and family had stored in the notes field for their version of your contact very likely lives on Facebook's servers and has been sold and distributed to countless third parties. Companies can cross-reference your contact across all of their users who uploaded a version of it, aggregate a list of all of of your possible nicknames, addresses, etc. based on those contact fields, and use that data to strengthen their profile of you. It's fun to think about, really. 🙃
In my opinion, this is a privacy nightmare of unconscionable proportion. Apple needs to fix this by introducing fine-grained address-book privacy controls that function analogously to iOS 14's Photos access settings. They also need to strongly discourage users from granting unfettered contact access to third party apps, since this is leaking other people's data to them.
I love the new Home Screen Pages feature. The ability to hide and show pages is great, and super helpful when it comes to keeping a tidy home screen.
I want a few enhancements here:
- We should be able to pinch to zoom out from the home screen into the grid view of Pages. It is absurd that we can only access this feature while in "Jiggle Mode".
- We should be able to give each home screen a name such as "Work", "Smart Home", "Games", etc.
- We should be able to hide and show home screens via Shortcuts actions
- We should be able to drag to reorder pages in this "Edit Pages" view. We are up to iOS 14 and we still have no easy way to reorder our home screen pages. Come on, yo.
- We should be able to give each Apple Watch Face a custom name. This would make Shortcuts automation for Watch Faces way more straightforward.
The new App Library feature is nice, but could be made more useful:
- There should be an entry in App Library labeled "Not in Home Screen" so that I can easily see all of the apps that only exist within my App Library.
- Merge home screen folders with App Library
- We should be able to add my existing home screen folders to the App Library
- Conversely, I want an App Library Folder widget that we can place anywhere on our Home Screen, which can be configured to display any category from App Library, including our own folders.
In my last wish list post, I mentioned:
Switch up which app pages are active based on location, time, or via a Shortcut
Allow me to elaborate.
Today, I have a few different watch faces with different complications depending on what I am doing. When home, I like having HomeKit scenes, Music Control, etc. at my fingertips, but when out and about, I want quick access to shazam, maps, etc. When working, I want slack, jira, mail, and other work-related complications.
I am able to create personal automations based on time of day, location, presence in the car, etc. to automatically switch my watch face. The ability to rename watch faces would greatly improve this process. But I want to introduce the concept of "contexts", which expands the idea of automated context switching far beyond watch faces.
Similar to the watch faces I mention above, I have Home Screens that are only relevant to me based on what I'm doing.
- Apple Remote App
- Home App
- Philips Hue
- App Store
- Music Widgets and Shortcuts for my Home AirPlay environment
- Work Notes Widget
- Work-specific calendar Widget
- Out and About
- Find My
- Shortcut to open the Gate in my Apartment
- Activity Widget
In addition, I have HomeKit scenes and shortcuts that are only relevant to me based on time of day or location. These exist on different Home Screens for quick access. Today, I swipe between Home Screens to get to the page that's relevant to me. It isn't worth the effort required to manually edit pages and hide and show them as I go about my day. This means that many times during my work day, I swipe past multiple irrelevant Home Screens when trying to view my Work home screen.
Zooming out and revisiting the Edit Pages View:
I think this view can be enhanced to support a proper concept of "Contexts":
- Pinch anywhere on Home Screen to activate this view outside of "Jiggle Mode"
- Add a tab switcher that allows us to switch between active sets of pages (contexts)
- Each context should have its own name and set of visible pages
- Ability to associate a particular watch face with each context
- Ability to automatically switch your phone's active context via a Shortcut Action
AirTags precision finding is cool as hell, and super accurate. It would be great if I could place AirTag in various rooms of my house, and create personal or home automations that trigger as my iPhone or Apple Watch enter and exit various rooms (this feature should also work with the HomePod Mini, no need for AirTag).
Music should follow me as I move around the house, cuz why not?
- With iOS 13, Apple introduced Parameters for Shortcuts, and strictly type their outputs. This greatly enhanced the utility of app-provided shortcut actions. We should be able to create our own Shortcuts that are parameterized in the same way, for reuse in other Shortcuts.
- This would allow us to create utility Shortcuts that are specifically designed for invocation from other Shortcuts
- When sharing a Shortcut, all required utility Shortcuts should be automatically bundled with the shared Shortcut.
- This will make life easier for maintainers of public Shortcuts.
- HomeKit automation needs a complete overhaul. Setting up scenes and automations requires far too many taps. I should be able to list all accessories by type from a single action, iterate over that list, and perform an action against each Repeat Item in the list.
- Shortcuts should have their own persistent data store. DataJar is a great application, but iCloud syncing across devices is not the most reliable. This should be an OS-level feature.
- There is currently no way to append a photo to note via a Shortcut. This is an oversight and should be fixed. Shortcut support was added to Notes in a dot release, and has yet to be fully fleshed out by the Shortcuts team.
- Permission for a Shortcut to access more of iCloud Drive. We should be able to perform path-based scripting like we can with the Dropbox integration. iCloud Drive is not a competitive product without this feature.
- We should be able to mark episodes as unwatched in TV app... like seriously...
- When tapping a color with Apple Pencil, switch back to pen tool if the eraser is currently active
- Delete activity awards
- Quickly toggle AirPods mute with gesture
- AirPods Max microphone should work over the wire
- AirPods spatial audio with Apple TV
- AirPods Pro as hearing aids (we're getting closer!)
- Bring back cover flow in the Music app! PLEASE!
- Toothbrushing detection for Apple Watch
- Restore ability to customize tab bar in music app.... Apple Music has too prominent of a placement
- Home-wide timers for HomePod. All HomePods should know the answer to questions about timers. It's super frustrating knowing that you set a timer, but the HomePod with the timer running refuses to respond.
- If I set a laundry timer in the basement, it should also go off upstairs, otherwise I don't hear it.