The killer feature every major Apple OS must show at WWDC 2023

WWDC 2023
(Image credit: Apple)

WWDC is just around the corner, and we're all excited to see what Apple has in store this year. 

Long ago, we would be expecting a new iPhone to be announced alongside release dates for software updates across the board at Apple's annual event for developers. But the arrival of the iPhone 4S in 2011 changed this approach to September, and sometimes October.

Since then, WWDC has been a big event for many Apple users, not just developers. This is because it allows all of us to get a sneak peek as to what will be arriving on our iPhone, iPad, Mac, Apple Watch and the rest of its product line, and this year is no different.

As always, there are plenty of things we expect to see, and there are always a few surprises mixed in there as well. With this in mind, here are a few specific additions I'd love to see come to Apple's bigger platforms this year.

iOS 17 - Live Activities 2.0

iOS 17 Live Activities concept

(Image credit: Matt Birchler)

Live activities were one of the headline features of iOS 16 last year, and they're a very good addition to iOS, but they're not perfect, and I think one change could make them more useful and more convenient for users.

In short, apps should be able to start live activities on their own. Currently, you need to open an app manually, and then the app can start a live activity for you. I understand that Apple likely did this to prevent apps from starting live activities without the user's consent, flooding their lock screen and dynamic island with junk, but nearly a year on, I think this was too protective of users, and we should be able to let apps that we choose start live activities on their own.

By all means, make this an elevated permission that requires the user to explicitly allow it (like the "always allow" option for location access), but I think it would be a great addition to iOS. For example, I could let Fantastical always start a live activity for my meetings throughout the day. Or I could let my Formula 1 app, Box Box, automatically start a live activity for all practice, qualifying, and race sessions, since I know I'll want to have those all the time.

Like all permissions, this should be easy to revoke so that users maintain control over their device, but I think it's reasonable to trust users to give apps they choose to use this ability.

iPadOS 17 - Give Stage Manager a do-over

iPadOS 17 Stage Manager concept

(Image credit: Matt Birchler)

If the last year has taught us anything, it's that the idea of Stage Manager and actually living with Stage Manager are two separate things. Windowing on iPadOS is a great idea, but it's not quite there yet, and I think there are a couple things that could be improved to make it more useful.

The big change I would make is to remove the fixed sizes that iPad windows snap to. It's pretty clear this was meant as a way to make it easier for users to get started with windowing, but I think it's a bit too restrictive, and actually makes things counterintuitive for users. It's been almost a year of using it and to this day I'm never quite 100% sure what will happen when I resize a window. Will it stick to the size I want? Will it move to another spot on the screen when I let go of the corner? Will it hide the dock because it thinks there's not enough space? Will it hide the recent apps on the left of the screen?

That's too many questions to have when simply trying to resize or move a window on screen. In my opinion, this is an example of a feature being too clever for its own good; they've over-engineered for simplicity and instead have created a new complexity.

By allowing apps to freely resize (as the same apps already do on Apple Silicon Macs), Apple will make their windowing solution more intuitive and less frustrating for users.

Besides, the current solution isn't exactly ensuring that the window layout remains clean and organized, so why are we insisting on adhering to an arbitrary grid system in the first place?

watchOS 9 - Smart Workouts

watchOS 9 Workout concept

(Image credit: Matt Birchler)

There are a couple things I'd love to see come to watchOS this year, and they all revolve around workouts.

The big updates I'd love to see are improvements to workout notifications. Currently, the default behavior is to get notified whenever any of your friends completes a workout. I've muted these for everyone besides my wife, and I pray that everyone who follows me has muted me because I do at least 3 workouts per day, and they're just not that exciting. I walk my dog the same distance 2-3 times per day, and I count those as workouts – but no one needs to get alerted every time I get home with the dog.

My proposal is a smart notification system that's the new default, and will only send post-workout notifications to your friends if the workout was notable in some way. Maybe you set a new personal best or you worked out for more time than ever before. Heck, maybe you just did your first workout after a few weeks off and might like some props for getting back on it.

This would continue the social aspect of workout out, which can be very motivating, but it would help reduce the notification spam that is the norm today.

Also on the notification front, I appreciate the "do you want to end your workout?" notification that comes up a few minutes after I complete a workout and am just recovering on the couch, but it's annoying that the 5 minutes I spent collapsed on the couch counts towards my average pace for the run I just completed. Apple could make this better in two ways.

The first would be to let me end the workout and delete the last X minutes since it thinks I stopped actually working out. The other would be to end the workout like normal, but then let me go into the Fitness app on my iPhone and trim the workout time just like I can trim a video in the Photos app.

macOS 14 - Time Machine 2.0

macOS 14 Concept

(Image credit: Matt Birchler)

One of the most interesting apps released in recent memory is, an app that records everything you do on your computer and lets you search through everything you've done in seconds. It can even record audio and transcribe what you say and hear. But given the cost and privacy concerns of a tool with this remarkable amount of access to your computing habits, I would suspect most people would not want to have a third party doing this, they'd rather have it built into the OS.

And of course, Apple already has Spotlight, which lets any Mac user find any file on their computer or any info from the web quickly (or not so quickly, your results may vary), so adding the ability to search for anything you've seen, heard, or said on your computer would be a natural extension of Spotlight.

macOS is often one of the more pedestrian parts of WWDC, as it really hasn't changed substantially in many years. Yes, it keeps with most iOS features that come to the iPhone and iPad, but it's been a long time since it got something that really elevates it beyond those platforms, and something like this would really turn heads.

Final Thoughts - Could concept become reality?

iOS 17 mockup logo

(Image credit: iMore)

It's one thing to wish upon an iOS update, but to see a wish is another matter entirely. While watchOS 10 may be bringing big updates to its user interface, some users are still hoping for third-party watch faces and a 'rest days' option.

But these concept images at least give you an idea as to what new features could be coming, and how. We all read about rumors that could be coming to your iPhone every year, but seeing what these could look like is another matter.

Regardless, we won't have long to wait to see what's coming to Apple's software, with WWDC scheduled to start on June 5, and we'll be ready to cover everything that gets announced.

Freelancer Writer and UX Designer