Here's how Apple can take iOS to 11 (not sorry!)

iPhone 7
iPhone 7 (Image credit: iMore)

Our first look at iOS 11 is a month a way. Come WWDC 2017, we'll see exactly what Apple thinks will propel iPhone and iPad another year into the future. Whatever that is, it was more or less decided late last year, impossibly shortly after iOS 10 shipped. That's why I wrote my wish-list series back then. But, months might as well be decades in internet time. So, I'm going to sum them back up right here, right now — and add a few more just for fun.

That way, come June, we can see just how close they are to the iOS 11 we actually get.

1. Dark theme or theming engine — because my eyes, my eyes

Ever since iOS 7 went bright white people have been asking for dark theme, especially for night time use. (Last year Apple trolled us with a Dark Theme for Apple TV instead.) With rumors of an OLED display on iPhone 8, which is far more power-efficient with a dark theme — see Watch, Apple — iOS 11 might finally be the year we get it.

Beyond a dark theme, a full on ThemeKit could provide a wider range of color and interface options while still keeping everything clean and classy.

Read more about a dark theme for iPhone and iPad

2. Hey, how about Siri everywhere and everything!

Siri can already "remember this". Why not use iOS 11 to introduce "share/send this", "read/speak this", "save/print this", and all the rest of the really useful this-things? Siri can also already take text input via the edit button. Why not right away, so when you're in situations where you can't or simply don't want to speak, you can just type to Siri.

Better still, type \siri (or whatever) in Messages, Notes, or any app, plus whatever command or question you have, and let Siri execute or answer right from where you already are. No app or context switching needed.

/Siri ask Apple to do this, please.

Read more about type-to-Siri

3. Re-set default apps so iPhone can be the best experience for any service

With deep links, SiriKit, and PhoneKit, which let you go to specific apps for links, voice commands, and communications, Apple has been inching towards custom default apps for a while now. The old thinking might be that default apps increase complexity. The new iOS 11 thinking could be they increase attractiveness — all in on Microsoft, Google, or WeChat services? Get 'em and a first-class experience on iPhone and iPad.

Maybe, in the future, AI would be smart enough to learn behavior habits and negate the need for hardwired defaults. It could just predict when we want Mail.app for personal iCloud, Outlook for work, and Gmail for hobby stuff, for example.

4. iPad drag and drop — and drag, pinch, swipe, and drop!

iOS 9 was a renaissance for iPad, with split view apps, keyboard enhancements, and more. iOS 10… not so much. For iOS 11, the obvious addition is drag-and-drop. Let us (literally) grab content on one view and move it over to another view.

Even better, since iOS is a full-on, direct manipulation multi-touch system, let us grab content, multi-pinch to Home, pick another app, drop it in, grab something else, multi-swipe over, and drop that in too. Don't worry about iPad falling into Mac preconceptions. Pretend there is no Mac and make iPad awesome all on its own.

5. CarPlay and AppleTV — on board!

I once asked my dealer if I could upgrade for CarPlay. He said sure, buy a new model. At that moment I realized a) cars are terrible when it comes to updates, b) iPhones aren't. So, why do I need a car screen for CarPlay when my iPhone has a big enough display and can be easily mounted on the dash. Sure, it wouldn't have the deep "infotainment" integration of built-in CarPlay, but it would be better — and likely safer — than nothing.

Same with Apple TV. It's a great little box but something I really wish Apple also made an HDMI stick that simply streamed everything straight from my iPhone. That way I could travel to a friend across town, or a hotel or office across the country, and watch whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted. Again, it wouldn't have everything, but it would often have just enough.

Read more about Apple TV Express

6. Handoff for media — three years in the waiting!

Handoff for iTunes in iOS 10 would be ludicrously great

Apple introduced handoff back in iOS 8 and it's great. It doesn't just sync files, it syncs activity. Start something on iPhone, continue it right where you left off on iPad or Mac. Except for media. Listening to a playlist on your Mac and need to leave? It should automagically continue on your iPhone. Watching a movie on your iPad and walk into the living room? It should shift right over to Apple TV. But it doesn't. And iOS 11 is long past time for that to change.

(I'd love for iTunes to go fully iCloud, so we could stream — and buy! — any of our stuff from anything with a web browser, and help further reduce dependency on iTunes.app so we can all start to move on…)

Read more about hand-off for media

7. Apple TV, no wait, that's taken — Apple Video! (but with a cooler name)

HBO Go content in the Apple TV app

HBO Go content in the Apple TV app (Image credit: iMore)

It seems like everyone has a streaming video service now. Everyone but Apple. Which is ironic given rumors of Apple doing a TV and movie version of Apple Music predate Apple Music — and just about every other service that's since launched. I'll spare you my conspiracy theories about Hollywood wanting to get competition built-up before giving Apple a deal, much like music did with Amazon MP3 before iTunes went DRM-free. I'll just say that with all the options for streaming video these days, an Apple version is now extra-conspicuous by its absence.

Netflix has shown that when you make great content available at reasonable prices, piracy drops. Meld that with the purchase options of iTunes and Apple's traditionally premium customer-base, and it seems like a match made in TV and movie heaven.

8. Protection for pics, and messages, and — all the private things!

I don't use iCloud Keychain because there's no option for authentication. If I give someone my iPhone or iPad to make an emergency call, look up a website, or use while they're waiting for something, I give them all my passwords and credit card info. Third-party apps like password managers, banking apps, storage providers, etc. can all prompt for authentication before opening — why can't built-in apps?

Notes got passwords last year, but just notes. GuestBoard, which would be a safe state with browser and phone support only, has been rumored for a while now. Apple can figure that stuff out better than me, I just want to be able to hand someone a device and not have to worry about them skimming my data or ordering a pizza on my dime. At least until we get ambient security.

Read more about app-level security and GuestBoard

9. System-level VIP — if you want to message with me

VIP for Mail is great. It means I can set notifications for my iPhone — and more importantly, Apple Watch — to only show email from the people most important to me. iMessage and other apps, not so much. If the concept of VIP was moved out of Mail and into Contacts, though, then Messages and even third-part apps like Twitter, Skype, WhatsApp, etc. could be filtered so we only get notifications from the people that are most important to us.

PhoneKit already started letting us control what apps we use for which contact. Now we just need notifications to follow. And, yeah, sure, yeah, per-person DND across apps as well. Emoji smirk.

Read more about VIP for any contact

10. Bubble reax-fx for Messages — and frequently refreshed filters

iMessage Lasers

iMessage Lasers (Image credit: Rene Ritchie)

Bubble and screen effects in iOS 10 are a lot of fun. I'd love to see even more in iOS 11. Like reactive bubble effects. If someone invisible-inks a message that's hot, I want to touch, hold, tap fire, and watch the bubble burst into flame. Same if it's cool. Let me freeze it and watch the icicles drop. Slam is more like lame? Let me pop that bubble and watch it deflate and fizzle out across the screen. There's so much potential for really engaging interaction here.

Even better would be a more dynamic, more frequently updated system like Snapchat uses. We don't need puppy or Bambi lenses updated daily, but fun tweaks on a regular basis would keep things fresh. You can only unce-unce-unce laser your co-workers so many times before you feel their eye rolls so hard.

11. Peer-to-peer Apple Pay so we can all get paid

I live in a place where Apple Pay is everywhere. I can use it at every corner store, department store, and Apple Store in way more than a 5-mile radius. What I can't do is use it with the person sitting across the table from me, or across the imessage chat. It's been rumored Apple's been working on peer-to-peer Apple Pay for about as long as the company has been working on Apple Pay, so it's no wonder all the pieces already seem in place.

Peer-to-peer Apple Pay is a service, so it doesn't need to be bound to iOS 11 or any software release. But introducing it at the same time, in the keynote, would make for a great timeline — and a great demo op.

Your biggest iOS 11 wants?

There are other things I'd love to see in iOS 11, like "tap to wake", a better version of the one-handed keyboard that never shipped, a system-wide news service that melds News with Safari links, and a whole lot more. But I've gone on too long already. What's on top of your list?

Rene Ritchie
Contributor

Rene Ritchie is one of the most respected Apple analysts in the business, reaching a combined audience of over 40 million readers a month. His YouTube channel, Vector, has over 90 thousand subscribers and 14 million views and his podcasts, including Debug, have been downloaded over 20 million times. He also regularly co-hosts MacBreak Weekly for the TWiT network and co-hosted CES Live! and Talk Mobile. Based in Montreal, Rene is a former director of product marketing, web developer, and graphic designer. He's authored several books and appeared on numerous television and radio segments to discuss Apple and the technology industry. When not working, he likes to cook, grapple, and spend time with his friends and family.

51 Comments
  • I would love to see an overhaul to the main screen. The static grid of icons has been around forever; would love to see some ability to arrange the icons anywhere on the screen. I would also like to see some improvements when it comes setting ringtones (I would love to be able to select a song in my Apple Music playlist as a ringtone without having to pay extra or use GarageBand and make my own). Lastly, I think it is time for iOS to split out the iPad; for the iPad to grow it needs to separate from the iPhone, now more than ever. Just like it was crazy to put the iPhone OS on the Watch, I think the same is true of the iPad. A true iPadOS would be nice.
  • If iPadOS happened, it would still be iOS, it's just that the interface would adapt for the bigger screen. Any new features that the iPad can get which could be placed on the iPhone, will be put on the iPhone, and if they only work on the iPad, they will just activate when the screen size is big enough. Creating another OS would create more complication and more room for bugs and problems
  • I usually ride a bike, so I am a heavy Siri user for listening gto messages. Siri should be able to play voice messages sent through iMessages, WhatsApp and whatever other service lets send them
  • Some sort of restricted user account. So my iPad can recognise my daughters fingerprint and present the apps I have allowed her access to, rather than her having access to my full iPad. On a similar note, touchID needs some logic changes. Far too often is my PIN needed...
  • User accounts in general.
  • User accounts would make sense on an iPad, not so much an iPhone, but that could easily be a device-specific feature. However a guest account feature should be on both the iPad and iPhone, so that you can pass your iPhone to someone without them being able to see everything on your device
  • Group Facetime would be nice.
  • +1
  • More 3rd party app support for Carplay....The freedom to use whatever Map app I choose, just like they do for music. Would really like to have Waze on my display for better traffic issue reporting.
  • Holy words, as Carplay is now obsolete. It urgently needs to be rewritten
  • I agree with you. I love CarPlay but it seems Apple has let it go by the wayside.
  • Music from other apps doesn't go through CarPlay though does it? Surely it would just go through Bluetooth. But yes, CarPlay should definitely support custom apps.
  • Let all mapping apps be available in CarPlay. Open up more 3rd party support in CarPlay. If an app can run natively in landscape it should be able to run in CarPlay. I mean games and apps like that are not good for CarPlay but apps like Gas Buddy or GasTracker+ would be great.
  • All I want is a music app that can play MP3s that I downloaded for free from BandCamp, SoundCloud, a promotional site, or crazy artists like Moby who causally decide to give away an album that isn't their usual genre. There is a lot of legitimately free music out there. (You can make a song on Garage Band, but you can't add it to Music… think about that.) http://moby.com/la1/ And a dark mode… with a Batman endorsement… no wait: Darth Vader!
  • Unfortunately Apple doesn't like allowing things which _could_ be used for piracy, even if that's not their primary purpose. This is why emulators, media centers and torrent clients don't exist on iOS. Dark mode will most likely come with an OLED-screen iPhone, given that this is what the Apple Watch has and the Watch has a dark interface
  • But I can add the MP3s from iTune snd sync over Wi-Fi? I can play those songs on other apps like VLC and Documents, the latter of which uses Apple's dev tools to play MP3s and movies. I can even play then individually on iCloud drive! It doesn't stop piracy, it just forces me to use a Mac in the "post PC" era. Once on a Mac, I double click and moments later, it's automatically loaded onto my phone.
  • You can definitely still get pirated content on your device, it's just made more difficult. I don't agree with it since it limits freedom for what can be perfectly legal use
  • One added function would bring me into the IOS fold. If IOS had user file system access, I would happily use IOS as my daily primary O/S.
    Ex. I am standing in front of a printer that is throwing a firmware error. On Android, I...
    -download the firmware update zip
    -extract the files
    -change the extension on the necessary file to make it usable.
    -copy that file to a thumbdrive with OTG
    -use the thumbdrive to update the firmware.
    On IOS, I...
    -Go back to my office to retrieve my laptop
  • +1, this is a feature that iOS is really being crippled from not having
  • I really want them to bring split screen multitasking to the 7 plus. I would love to be able to browse my email on the bottom half of the screen while watching YouTube or something on the top half of the screen.
  • At least PiP like on the Mac and iPad :)
  • Couldn't agree with this one more! We have all this real estate on the 7+ makes NO SENSE that I can't have split screen like on the iPad. This is the number one feature that should be added!!
  • Scheduled messages. Native, I don't want to download an app to do this.
  • Camera not as good as Lumia 950, no wireless charging, Cortana better than Siri, USB OTG........
  • Offline support for Maps.
  • Offline support, lane guidance, speed limit reporting, camera alerts. Maps has a lot to improve on, it's still in its infancy.
  • "If I give someone my iPhone or iPad to make an emergency call, look up a website, or use while they're waiting for something, I give them all my passwords and credit card info." Strange, if someone using my iOS devices wants to see my passwords, they have to get past a Touch-ID prompt. Maybe you're doing it wrong? A.
  • Login autofill will still allow you to gain access to websites, not to mention any websites you're currently logged into already
  • True as may be, but that is completely different than "giving them all my passwords". A.
  • Not all but the majority if you use a large number of services that are website-based
  • Put the Weather along with the Clock on the home screen and put the **** EQ in the Music App where it belongs instead of it being in the settings App.
    [Come on Apple those should be Common Knowledge]
  • The whole settings app thing needs to be a global change, the Camera app also suffers from this
  • Pretty much all of these already exist on Android right now.
  • Which isn't surprising, given that Android is usually ahead in software features.
  • And your point is?
  • just because its there, doesn't mean it's Done Well. Not a half baked throw it at a wall to see what sticks feature.
  • I want more discrete control of notification sounds and vibration. Basically, I want to choose which app makes which sound, or no sound at all, or just vibrates. Or whether any notifications sound or vibrate (again, my choice) only on the watch, only on the phone, or even on both. I want to decide which sounds I hear from which apps, not be given only a generic sound that I can't change. Basically, I want every app to have the same sound/vibration choice as the phone and messages apps.
  • Things I wish Apple would do in general iPhone
    - [ ] MagSafe charging
    - [ ]ability to Download video and music without computer from other sites
    - [ ] Light up Apple logo
    - [ ] Change layout fonts
    - [ ] Display sports on top of screen or weather etc Apple Watch
    - [ ] 3rd party watch face Apple TV
    - [ ] Web browser
    - [ ] Hey Siri
    - [ ] Bluetooth hearing aids capability
    - [ ] Messaging MacBook/computer
    - [ ] Touch screen
    - [ ] Hearing aids capability
    Bring back MagSafe and light up logo Give ios more freedom please, get some ideas form the jailbreak aspect
  • /Siri would be beneficial. Already exists In Google Allo with @google and I use it all the time within messages to share info. Posted via the iMore App for Android
  • Hmm thought you lived in Canada where hardly any department stores take tap to pay systems. Unless you're using Samsung Pay. Posted via the iMore App for Android
  • Not tied to iOS, but I'd like to use my iCloud email address as my Apple ID.
  • i would absolutely love a deep black theme to go with that rumored OLED display! That and the ability to place apps where I want them. I get that iOS is meant to be simple but for those of us that want it should be able to have that option for increased customization.
  • It would be silly if Apple didn't have a deep black theme to go with the OLED display, given that the main advantage of OLED is that it uses less power when displaying black color. The screen is one of the biggest battery-consuming parts of the phone, so it would only make sense that OLED comes with the dark theme, probably as the default setting too
  • OLED Dark screen is a priority for me as the white light is killing my eyes. Improved keychain as mentioned. Much more context in Siri (no brainer) Multi lingual Siri with the ability to translate and give definitions in different languages. Camera with builtin document scanning/ text recognition features. Siri upgraded to provide AFL scores (Australian football). File system with upgraded time machine support. Air monitoring system software builtin. Podcast app improvements, the ability to rate episodes during live listening and inApp. And last but unlikely a reward badge system similar to the Apple watch to promote responsible time management on my iPhone. I'm addicted!!!!
  • I wish we were finally brought up to speed with the rest of the world. -The Apple News app
    -Apple Pay
    -Predictive text/word suggestions
    -Better Siri integration with maps/public transport. Most of the time we end up with Siri doing a Google search because much isn't yet implemented
    -3D Apple Maps of our cities
    -The iOS TV app Best regards from the Netherlands!
  • One thing they need to add is: Free Duet Display. Allow the iPad to act as a second screen!!!!! It would give customers another reason to buy an iPad. Imagine using your iPad as a second screen on the go!
  • If people can afford an iPad, they can certainly afford the Duet app, but I agree it would be nice to have as a built-in feature, although that means the guys making Duet will lose out
  • Most of it already being said, here are my 2 bits:
    1) In Notes App - single tap to scroll to bottom, because i make loong Notes.
    Just like in WhatsApp.
    2) In Messages App - deleting an entire conversation takes a simple swipe but deleting parts of a thread requires more actions. Need a confirmation dialog - because of younglings who fiddle with your phone & accidental swipes.
    3) Ability to selectively restore only Messages from a backup.
    Simple stuff !
  • Just swipe typing in the native iOS keyboard. That's it...that's all I want.
  • Probably the biggest two things here for me are type to Siri and default apps. Those would be gamechangers on an iPhone.
  • I want the 3d touch the phone app and see a option to hide caller id since its inconvinient to go inside settings everytime to hide caller id. I use it to call to places like the dealership, or any other companies that I dont want them to see my number! Please Apple!