The lead-up to Apple’s annual Worldwide Developers Conference is always rife with rumor and speculation. But so far this year leaks have been few and far between and most of what has trickled out into the public eye has been on the vague side. Take, for example, Bloomberg’s usually very well-sourced Mark Gurman, who said last week–with nothing more in the way of explanation–that iOS 16 would contain some “fresh Apple apps.”
Let’s assume for a moment that this isn’t merely a resurgence of 1990s slang and that the apps in question aren’t “funky fresh,” but rather that the company is intending to roll out new and/or updated versions of some of its built-in apps on iOS. That certainly sounds promising and, as you might imagine, I have some ideas of exactly what that could (or should) entail.
It’s time, Apple. After 12 years, the iPad deserves a Weather app. I know that it’s not the most exciting of developments, but come on: you already provide home screen widgets with updated interfaces that are almost apps in their own regard. And I find it hard to believe that Apple spent however much money it did on Dark Sky to not leverage it on all of its platforms. (While we’re at it, some integration on the macOS side, especially as say a Mac-like menu bar widget, would not go amiss either.)
The Weather app has always been a peculiar absence on the tablet. Did Apple think people who use the iPad don’t care about the weather because they’re usually using the device inside their homes? Regardless, the most recent version of Weather on the iPhone demonstrated that the company could compete with the best of what third parties have to offer, so let’s finally bring the iPad kicking and screaming into the modern era. Just in time for summer!
Apple’s gotten increasingly into payment systems over the last few years with Apple Pay and the Apple Card. Even the recent minor iOS 15.5 update made the interesting change of adding Send and Request payment buttons to the Wallet app, functionality that had previously been buried in Messages. But one aspect of finance is still missing: analysis and budgeting tools.
Yes, if you have an Apple Card, you can see that wash of colors that tell you which areas you’re spending your money or export your transactions as documents to import into some other tool. But it would also be handy if the company could provide more substantial tools for financial health, helping consumers understand exactly where their money is going.
Think less of a wallet and more of a ledger. Apps like Mint and Personal Capital have a lot of traction in this space, but if Apple is serious about expanding the ways it works with money–and it’s already announced that it will be opening up access for Tap to Pay in the coming months–then there may be value in Apple providing a more holistic view that helps consumers manage that money in a responsible fashion.
Email, Phone, Messages, Calendar
The virtue of built-in apps on the iPhone is that they take care of most people’s needs. Email? Got it. Phone? Check. Messages? Yep. Calendar? Sure. These apps–and, for the most part, the tasks they accomplish–are profoundly mundane. And yet, that mundanity also means that users rely on them to get things done. They’re essential. This makes for a tricky balance, because you don’t want to change them for change’s sake, but you also don’t want to let them stagnate to the point where they feel archaic.
Mail and Calendar are a great example of two apps that have barely budged in the past several years and, as a result, are teetering on the verge of antiquity. While third-party email apps have been pushing the envelope (if you’ll excuse the phrase) with features like intelligent filtering, snoozing reminders, and more, Mail has finally gotten around to adding multicolored flags.
Likewise, Calendar, which is about as bare-bones an app as you can find on the platform, has at last added the ability to recognize video calls (two years into the pandemic), but could stand to revisit how it displays events on multiple calendars, or improve its natural language processing, or add support for scheduling events between multiple parties.
Finally, Messages, one of Apple’s most popular apps, should improve its cross-platform compatibility with Android (instead of punishing iOS’s own users by barraging them with a deluge of messages about people “liking” a message), implement better spam filtering for unwanted texts (whether via SMS or iMessage), and expand the useful tapbacks to include any emoji.
These things may not be sexy, but they’re potentially big quality of life improvements for the audience who use these built-in apps—which is probably the majority of iOS users, given that many don’t bother swapping them out for third-party apps.