iOS 12 Wish List

I still maintain that iOS is the best mobile operating system on the market, but that doesn’t mean it’s perfect. There’s still a lot of room for improvement, and I hope Apple continues to push forward year after year.

Here are a few things I’d like to see added to iOS 12:

Better File Management – The new Files app in iOS 11 shows that Apple is looking at better ways to store, move and access files across the system, but there are still a lot of pain points that need to be addressed.

For example, it’s still very difficult to manage music and videos. As an example, I ripped one of my audiobook CD and put it on my Synology. Getting from there into Music or iBooks on my iPhone should be simple. Airdrop from the Synology? Nope. Neither iBooks or Music are Airdrop targets. Open from the Synology app on the iPhone and use the Share interface? Nope. Again, neither iBooks or Music are available options – for M4A files! iOS should handle this with ease.

The same is true with video files. If I have an MP4 of my wedding video on Dropbox, it’s impossible to get it into the TV app on my iPad where all the rest of my video content resides. Why? These are problems Apple should have solved 5 years ago.

Yes, I know that iTunes on the Mac could help with some of these issues, but the iPad is being sold as a laptop replacement. The answer can’t be “Find a Mac and use iTunes” for simple problems like moving a video from one iOS device to another.

Better Siri – This is probably on everyone’s list. Of course we all want it to be smarter about giving us the right answers to the basic questions we ask. That’s a given, but I want more.

Why does Siri answer most of my questions by showing text on the screen? If I start the interaction using Hey Siri, shouldn’t the phone be smart enough to assume I don’t want to pick it up and read an article? Just read the answer to me out loud.

And why can’t I get back to past Siri answers easily? Shouldn’t there be a history somewhere that I can refer back to an hour or a month later?

Why can’t I unlock my iPhone phone with my voice? It’s incredibly frustrating to be using Hey Siri in the car to listen to the last text message that came in, only to hear that the iPhone needs to see my face first. You know my voice, you just heard it, use that as authentication! Instead you want me to take my attention off the road and face the iPhone?!? It’s ridiculous.

Why can’t I lock the iPhone with my voice? If some grabs my unlocked phone, it sure would be nice to yell Hey Siri, lock my phone and have it happen.

Schedule text messages – As texting becomes the dominant communication method for many people, it needs to get smarter. Letting me write a text now to send at a later date and time (like during business hours, for example) would be a great addition to Messages.

Schedule email messages – Ditto for email. That feature has existed in other email clients for decades. It’s nothing novel. Just add it already.

Easy contact sharing – How has this problem not been solved already? I meet you at WWDC, we want to exchange contact info. Now what? Apple could use the myriad of radios and antennas on the iPhone to make this much easier, and let me decide how much I want to share by default.

No passcode at home – I get that security is key, but when I’m in the comfort of my own home, the passcode – on iOS and macOS is annoying. Yes, FaceID does alleviate the pain a bit, but I’d love an option to disable the passcode when on my home network.

The WWDC keynote is just hours away. I’m excited to see if any of these wishes are addressed this year.

Here’s to hoping!

Why Doesn’t This Exist: A Smart Microwave

Microwave ovens are both extremely convenient, and terrible at cooking food. Why?

My family got our first microwave oven somewhere around 1980. It was huge, loud, and did a fairly poor job of cooking just about everything. 37 years later, not much has changed. The new models are a bit smaller, slightly quieter, and still miserable at cooking anything but popcorn.

In 2017, we can do better, and four key innovations can help.

First, let’s get rid of 2 dozens buttons and take advantage of modern voice recognition.

“Microwave, warm my tea.”, or “Microwave, cook my dinner.”

Second, a modern microwave needs to be a whole lot smarter. I have no idea what temperature my pork chop should be. Fortunately, an internet connected oven will.

But how will it know what I want to cook? Now that it’s got an internet connection, let’s use some machine learning to recognize the food automatically. If Apple can identify trees and puppies in the photos I take on my iPhone, surely my smart microwave can identify a pork chop. Right?

Which brings us to the final, fatal flaw of all microwaves. The food either comes out raw on the inside, or rock hard on the outside. But not in the smart microwave. It has an infrared food thermometer to automatically check the temperature of the inside of the food to know exactly when it’s done.

Now that is a microwave worthy of the 21st century!

WWDC 2017 Keynote Reactions

My quick thoughts on the WWDC Keynote this afternoon.

tvOS

  • Amazon Prime Video — yes! Coming later this year — ugh.
  • Crickets.

I really hope they put major effort behind this platform in the fall.

watchOS

Yawn. I have no interest in watchOS or the watch itself right now. My advice? Buy a Fitbit Alta and save yourself $150.

macOS

High Sierra is a stupid name. I get the theme here. It’s the logical successor to Leopard/Snow Leopard, but it still sounds dumb.

  • Faster Safari, Mail, Photos and Search improvements. All good.
  • Metal 2. Love it.
  • Was there anything else? Nothing memorable, but I hope it’s a ton of minor improvements that fix some of the irksome parts of Sierra.

iMac & iMac Pro

These are fantastic improvements to the iMac. Apple is coming out swinging here to show they’re still behind the Mac, and haven’t forgotten about the Pro user market.

I’d love to see this level of commitment across all of the Mac line, all throughout the year.

Anyone remember the Mac Mini while we’re at it?

iOS 11 for iPhone

  • Apple Pay for peer-to-peer payments. Brilliant. Hopefully it’s not iOS only. If you can’t make payments to Android users, that’s a major flaw.
  • Siri Translations — love it.
  • Augmented Reality. Now this was damned impressive. The demo by Wingnut AR was one of the most impressive things I’ve seen in a long time.

iPad Pro

Nice incremental bump for the smaller iPad Pro, but not much news for the larger device? Is it not selling well?

Affinity Photo is super impressive as well. That’s something only Photoshop could do not long ago. Now you can do that level of editing on a tablet. Maybe these things aren’t toys after all. Once the teens of 2017 become the workforce of 2025, the desktop market may be in trouble.

iOS 11 for iPad

Another very impressive section of the keynote. Clearly Apple is trying to blur the lines between iOS and the Mac by adding more productivity features.

  • The Dock. Nice touch.
  • Split View. The distinction between the left and right apps seems to have gone away. Neither appears to be the default “primary” app. Put things on the left or the right, as you prefer. Nice.
  • Drag and Drop. Check. Looks about like I’d expect.
  • App Switching. Much better. I particularly like how it remembers your app pairings.
  • Notes. Looks like solid improvements. I don’t care much about handwriting recognition, but inserting tables and photos are welcome additions.
  • PDF Printing and Annotations. Hell yes!

HomePod

Another poor name choice. I get that they have history with the “Pod” name, but HomePod just sounds odd. SiriPod? SiriHome?

Aside from the name, the device is about what I expected. It’s an Amazon Echo with a bigger focus on sound quality, Apple Music integration and a higher price tag. It looks fairly nice too.

Overall, I’m excited for this device. I already have an Echo, but this market is so new that I’m willing to experiment a bit to find the device that works best for me. Hopefully the HomePod will actually deliver that top-tier sound quality the Echo is missing, and tightly integrate with my Apple services — mail, calendar, notes, reminders, etc.

The big miss here is the timing. Shipping in December? That hurts. It gives Amazon and Google another six months to keep innovating and extending their leads. I may be willing to buy multiple devices, but I bet most consumers will not.

I also have concerns about whether Apple can deliver enough of these in time for Christmas. New Apple devices notoriously sell out quickly. If this thing goes on sale in early December and shipping dates jump to 2-3 weeks after a few hours, there will be a lot of unhappy Apple customers come December 25th.

FCC Gets Serious About Broadband Speeds

FCC changes broadband definition to 25 Mbps

The Federal Communications Commission on Thursday voted to change the definition of broadband to connection speeds of 25 megabits per second or higher, casting aside the previous standard of 4 megabits per second.

If speeds don’t reach the threshold, Internet providers cannot call the connection “broadband.”

Huge news from Washington. The US is currently 26th in consumer broadband speeds. Pretty shameful for the country that invented the Internet.

Let’s hope some public shaming from the FCC will push Internet Providers to step up their games.

A Republican Halloween

Universal Candy
This Halloween I’m dressing up as a Republican. When kids come to the door I’ll tell them that Universal Candy is Socialist, and if they can’t afford their own candy, I shouldn’t have to buy it for them.