WWDC 2017 Wish List

Tomorrow, Apple will host their annual World Wide Developers Conference. Only Tim Cook knows for sure what they’ll announce, but I’ve got a long wishlist. Here’s what I’d like to see:

Siri Speaker

This is the hot one getting the most buzz this year. It’s been around the rumor mill for a while now, but the time seems right for the announcement. Amazon pioneered the category with the Echo, and continues to push the state of the art. Apple will be able to grab a big chunk of the market based solely on their brand loyalty, but to beat Amazon, Siri will need to get a lot smarter.

In a nutshell, I want Jarvis from the Iron Man movies. A super-smart assistant that knows virtually everything about me and the world around me. It remembers the things we discuss. It learns over time. It can control the environment around me, and it makes my life easier.

Siri is a long way from being Jarvis. But for Siri 2.0, I’d like to see a lot of incremental improvements:

  • Speed and Accuracy. Siri needs to work every time – with no lag – and understand a wide variety of voices without a lot of training.
  • Deeper Integration. Today, Siri still feels limited in ways that seem arbitrary. For example, she can read me an unread text message that came in an hour ago, but can’t re-read the one that I looked at 5 minutes ago. Why? If Siri has access to my messages, calendar or email, why limit it? I want to be able to say “Read me the last message from Shannon” or “Read me the email Scott sent yesterday”.
  • Grammar Awareness. If I say “Ask my wife if I should bring home dinner”, Siri should add a question mark at the end of the sentence. I shouldn’t have to say “Ask my wife if I should bring home dinner question mark.” Same goes for commas, colons and periods.
  • Individual voice recognition. Unlike Amazon, Apple supports relationships between their user accounts. Thanks to Family Sharing, my wife, kids and I can share things like apps, music and movies while retaining individual notes, mail and calendars. Siri 2.0 should recognize the unique voices of each family member, and manage their information accordingly.
  • A Screen? This one is tough for me. I love that you can do everything on the first-gen Echo by voice. By contrast, Siri often just says “Here’s what I found …” and dumps a paragraph on the iPhone screen. That’s not very useful when you’re working hands free. My fear is that a Siri Speaker with a built-in touchscreen will let Apple cop out and continue showing text rather than reading me the answer I want. On the other hand, maybe there are features I’m not thinking of that are only possible visually.

Apple TV

A year and a half ago, Apple released the 4th generation of the Apple TV. It featured an app-centric approach to content consumption and a (limited) unified voice search. It was a good incremental step forward for the time, but now Apple needs to do more. A faster processor and 4K support are obvious feature bumps, but I’m hoping for a lot more:

  • Siri 2.0. Anything the new Siri speaker can do, this box should be able to do as well.
  • First party game controller. Yes, this is something everyone has asked for since day one, but I’m still hopeful. And since I’m asking, please make it as fantastic as the PS4 controller.
  • Amazon Video. It’s the last major hold out. Just make the deal.
  • First run movies. This may be daydreaming a bit, but if anyone can negotiate a deal, Apple can. I want to rent it and watch movies that are still in the theater. Charge me $40, I don’t care. I want to watch brand new movies at home, not in a theater.

iOS

The software that drives the iPhone and iPad now has a version number in double digits. It’s time to start making some serious productivity enhancements and user improvements.

  • Bug Fixes and Reliability Updates. Selfeshly, I would be happy if they did nothing more than just make AirDrop work reliably. I can put my iPhone six inches away from my iMac, and it’s still a 50/50 crapshoot whether I can get them to see each other. That needs to be rock solid, every time.

    While we’re looking at bug fixes, let’s talk about a few other annoyances:

    • AirPlay. I have an HD phone, an HD TV, an HD AppleTV and 802.11n. Why does AirPlay fail half the time, and look like a TV show from the 50’s the other half of the time?
    • Handoff. I can copy text on my Mac and paste it in my iPad two seconds later – no problem. Try doing the same thing in reverse? Copy text on my iPad and try pasting it on the Mac? Never works. Why???
    • Messages. Sometimes my iPhone and Mac are completely in sync. Other times it’s like they’re two different accounts. No idea why.
    • iCloud Drive. Let’s match features with Dropbox. Shared folders and public links would be a great start. Also some level of indication when things have synced and what’s left to do.
    • Storage. How about getting 128GB of storage when you buy a 128GB iPhone instead of a measly 5GB?
  • Drag and Drop. We’ve already got split-screen apps. Please let us easily share between them.
  • Split Screen. While we’re on the subject, please just do what Federico Viticci demonstrated in his mockup video.
  • Home Network. Please don’t ask me to unlock my devices when they’re on my home network. I only need a passcode when I’m away. At home, please give me the option of dropping the security in favor of speed.
  • Vector Graphics. This applies more to developers, but in this age of multiple screen sizes and pixel densities, it sure would be nice if I could use an SVG for my icons, backgrounds and images rather than including multiple copies of every image at different sizes.

macOS

This platform is the oldest Apple product, but it still needs some TLC. Mostly just touch-ups to keep pace with iOS:

  • Messages. I’m not a big fan of all the apps and stickers that got added to Messages on iOS last year, but I know a lot of people are. Apple should keep both platforms in lock step in terms of features.
  • Notes. This year I took the plunge on notes. I ditched Evernote and just started using Apple Notes for all my work … well … notes. So far so good, but there are a handful of features it really needs. Tags and attachments are the most obvious. Historically, this is the type of app that Apple will revamp one year, then never touch again for ages. I really hope that’s not the case here.
  • Photos. It would really be nice if sharing in photos knew about my family and made it a lot easier for all of us to have one large pile of photos instead of 4 separate groups. Letting me put my Photos store on a NAS instead of the local drive would be nice too.
  • Mac App Store. Wow. Great idea, but its languished for about 5 years. Time to rewrite, reinvest and  complaints users have had for years.

Apple Pay

I love Apple Pay. Honestly, there are just two things I’d like to see improved this year:

  • Send Cash. Let me send money to any other Apple Pay user ala Square Cash or Venmo.
  • Pervasiveness. This is a tougher one. Apple has done a fantastic job of getting banks onboard, but retailers are still lagging. They need a major PR push to get more stores to adopt and promote the service.

That’s a long list, but all of these seem achievable. Apple is on top right now, but they absolutely cannot rest on their laurels. They need even more focus on every aspect of every platform. Keep pushing!

Posted in Business, Mobile