With WWDC23 starting on June 5—just a few short weeks away—thoughts of what will be revealed to millions are popping into my head. Every summer feels like Christmas has come early. We’ve got gifts under the tree waiting to be unwrapped with gleeful abandon!

And then September rolls around, and there are invariably new iPhones. They’re beside the point here, but the excitement they bring me helps dull the discomfort I feel living in a desert during the hot summer months.

While all rumor reporting points to this being a relatively light year for Apple’s most important operating system, that doesn’t mean it has to be an underwhelming update. We’ll all surely need to silence the hordes of people who’ll scream, “BORING! HARD PASS!” across the internet for months after the keynote. That’s another annual tradition I try my hardest to stick with. Do that, though, and I think there’ll be much to discover and love about iOS 17.

Of course, it’ll be tough to stay excited about what is comparatively old news when, in all likelihood, Apple will be debuting their long-rumored AR/VR headset. That’s an announcement that’ll be the talk of the entire world for the foreseeable future. Sorry, iPhone, but you’re not the hot thing this year.

Who would have ever thought we’d see that day come to pass?

I don’t expect Apple to ship whole number releases to iOS without including any new features. That’s more of a point release thing. We’ve all been conditioned to expect something worth showing off, not just in the keynote, but also in the inevitable commercials they’ll release. They need something appealing to encourage users to upgrade their devices, and whole number releases don’t include the desirable new emojis. They need a shiny new thing.

I’m all for some new hotness, but at this point, an update focusing more on sprucing things up is fine by me. I don’t need something that’ll shake the world. What I would like are features that will make my device feel like it’s keeping up with the rest of the world. If that means aping features from Android or other app developers, then so be it. I don’t care if others have had certain features for years; I would like to have them on my chosen platform.

Here’s what I’m thinking, in order of preference…

A standalone Passwords app

I’ve used 1Password for as long as I can remember. It’s been so useful that I got my family to use it as well.

But it’s still a third-party app, and that comes with some drawbacks, namely:

  • It will have inherent limitations when compared to services provided by a platform vendor. Apple, in this case.
  • The company that creates it will always be looking for ways to earn more money for itself, which is fair but may not align with your values or hopes for the company.

That second point is what I’m running up against these days, and I’m not alone here:

Since securing $620 million in VC funding in early 2022, the company has grown increasingly focused on the enterprise side of its business. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it changes a company. That becomes a problem when it’s at the expense of their individual customers.

There’s a great opportunity for Apple to break their password manager out of the Settings app on their devices and make strong passwords a visible part of their system. This feels like a no-brainer for a company that has made privacy and security part of its brand.

Add in family password sharing, and I’ll switch over immediately.

Natural language parsing for Lists in Reminders

When making a new task, Reminders will occasionally suggest a List in the QuickType bar above the keyboard, but if that actually shows up, it’s not very good at guessing which List to offer. I appreciate the way Fantastical and Todoist do this feature, and we would benefit greatly if Apple adopted this ability.

For instance, I would like to be able to type out something like: Clean the bathroom on Monday at 9:30 #chores /Home

Reminders should take that line of text and do the following:

  • Make a new task titled “Clean the bathroom”.
  • Set the due date for Monday at 9:30.
  • Add my “chores” tag to the task.
  • Place the task into my “Home” list.

As it is, there’s way too much tapping necessary to include all of that information in a task. The same could be said of Apple’s Calendar app. It’s the biggest reason why I’m using the increasingly too expensive Fantastical. I could probably create a Shortcut to do all this, but that route shouldn’t be necessary.

While we’re talking about Reminders, open up the API a little bit and give third-party developers access to the tagging system. The phenomenal app, GoodTask, meets all my needs except for this one issue.1

Cross-linking in Notes

This feels like a table-stakes feature in any note-taking app now, and it’s a glaring shame that Apple continues to not offer this useful ability.

A year or two ago, this felt like a lock. The notable Apple journalists, especially Federico Viticci, were talking about it with growing frequency before Apple dashed all our hopes by ignoring this common feature. It was a real disappointment.

Notes has become a capable app over the years. Cross-linking between notes in the app will further make it something eminently useful and powerful. It’s beyond time that they caught up with other apps like Obsidian, Craft, and Notion.

(I’ve also always longed for Markdown support in Notes, but I’m not going to hold my breath on that one.)

Active Home Screen widgets

The widgets we all got with iOS 14 were a phenomenal addition to our devices. They not only extended the utility of the staid Home Screen, but offered users the ability to customize one of the most seen parts of their devices. Thanks to apps like David Smith’s wonderful Widgetsmith, iPhone users could make their devices an extension of their personalities and interests. It was an important update in the history of iOS.

That said, there’s little that can be done with those widgets once they’re placed on the Home Screen. They’re just passive squares of information.

Interactivity would bring a whole new level of usefulness to our widgets. Imagine being able to play or pause your music, jot down a quick note, or complete a task without having to open those respective apps. How novel!

It would also give the Home Screen widgets another run under the spotlight. Apple would surely be happy about that.

A second row of Lock Screen widgets

Similar to Home Screen widgets, Lock Screen widgets have given us the ability to further extend our phone’s ability to provide information. Released with iOS 16, these widgets are even less capable than those on the Home Screen, but they’re still a welcome addition. I want more of them.

Perhaps this would only be useful for those who have irresponsibly huge phones, but I’m one of those people. I want more widgets on my Lock Screen, darn it! A second row would be enough; I promise I won’t ask for a third row next year.

Smart albums in Photos

Smart albums are on the Mac, and they’re wonderful. Why can’t I see, create, and edit them on my iOS device? Our iPhones and iPads are powerful computers, more than capable of handling automated organization. Why are they deprived of such a useful feature? The same could be said of smart playlists in the Music app.

It seems Apple doesn’t want to divorce any “smart” abilities from its Siri behemoth, except Siri isn’t all that smart, and it’s rarely available where I want it to be.

There are other issues that I could include, but I’m not writing a novel here.

Apple has never been an infallible company; its products have always had their drawbacks. However, what they offer is generally done so well that their flaws tend to stand out more. When those flaws can become the basis of a 1,600+ word blog post, it starts to feel like a paper-cut problem—one is annoying, many are a serious issue.

I would be the happiest person in the world on June 5 if they were to fix these issues I’ve written about. I’ll even take just a few corrections. I don’t expect them to be perfect; that goal isn’t attainable by anybody, even a company as rich and powerful as Apple. I do wish that more attention and care was given to what’s currently out there and a little less to what looks good on a marquee. Otherwise, how are they different from any of the other feature-chasing companies of the world?

  1. I do know that GoodTask has its own hacky tagging workaround. It puts a tag in the notes field of a task and uses that for organization. I don’t want to clutter up my task notes with tags. I’d like to use the same tags that Reminders uses. ↩︎