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 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 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

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.