iPhone  with iOS 11.2

All of us have wishes that we'd like to come true, and this is the appropriate time to mention them out loud. This is also the time of year to make some software wishes, in the hopes that they find their way into the upgrade cycle to be fulfilled by a certain fruit company in the months to come.

So, in the spirit of the season, here's my list of ten wishes, in no particular order.

1. Put the clock back in the iPhone X status bar when activating Control Center.

It looks like activating Control Center is meant to display the status bar from days of yore. There's plenty of room for the clock right smack dab in the middle. May we have it back, please?

2. Natural scrolling on Apple TV's Siri remote

I love natural scrolling. You love natural scrolling. Apple loves natural scrolling. It started on the iPhone, where the metaphor was that when you put your finger on the screen and swiped up, you were pushing the information on the screen up; the content tracks your finger movement. Natural scrolling eventually made its way to the Mac as an option in the Mouse and Trackpad System Preferences. But on the Apple TV's Siri remote, you swipe down to move content on the screen up and swipe up to move content on the screen down. I get that what we're really doing is moving the focus point on the screen—not the icons and menus—up and down. But it still feels, well, unnatural. How about an option to turn on natural scrolling?

3. Groups within groups

At one time it was possible within the Mac's Contacts app to create groups that contained other groups. For instance suppose you set up a group called "Brothers" and it contains email addresses for your three brothers which you use to schedule monthly book club meetings. Also suppose you set up a group named "Sisters" that contains email addresses for your two sisters, which you usually use to schedule poker parties. If you try to be clever and create a group named "Siblings", macOS will let you drag the Brothers and Sisters groups into Siblings. But it's a mirage; the Siblings group will contain no email addresses. This is a simple example that can be easily worked-around, but multiply the number of groups and the people in them by a factor of ten, and working around it is not so easy.

4. Creating groups within iOS

Speaking of groups, if you're syncing your Contacts through iCloud, any groups you create on your Mac will be replicated on your iOS device. You can address emails and messages using the group names (though if someone in your group has multiple email addresses, every address will be included), and your iOS device will remember sets of people who were previous recipients without them being in a formal group. But create a new group on an iOS device? Nope.

5. iOS Contacts sort order

Before we leave contacts, one more thing. I was browsing through the Contacts app on my iPhone X today and a friend of mine whose last name starts with a B wasn't listed alphabetically as it should have been. Turns out, adding a field for "phonetic first name" dropped his name to the bottom of the list of folks with a last name starting with B. When I removed the phonetic first name, his name sorted correctly. When I put the phonetic first name back in, his name again dropped to the bottom of the B's, except for the one time when it didn't: the time it sorted to the top of the B's. And no, his first name isn't Waldo. Yeah, I can (and did) use the search field to find his contact info, but still....

6. Erase just the free space

You want to give away your Mac to a relative, but you lack the time and/or desire to erase the entire hard drive first. You just want to remove your data. There used to be an option in Disk Utility to erase free space, rather than the whole disk. Doing so allows you to create a new administrative account to log in with, then delete your account and erase the free space. I'd love to have this option restored.

7. iOS system-wide dark mode

I'm with Rene Richie on this one. Several apps have a dark mode setting and sometimes it enables itself automatically based on time of day. We could use this as a standard in iOS, particularly for iPhone X and its OLED screen. Unlike with backlit LED screens, black pixels on OLED screens use less energy because those pixels are turned off. And as we all know, a mili ampere hour saved is a mili ampere hour earned.

8. Automatically mute the sound of incoming communication when the speakerphone is in use

If you've ever been on a conference call using the speaker of your iPhone and had an incoming call occur at the same time, you know what we're talking about. Unless you proactively turned on Do Not Disturb you'll fall victim to this. You'll also have to remember to turn Do Not Disturb off again when the speakerphone call is over. A little set-it-and-forget-it software slider to automatically mute these incoming notifications when the iPhone's speaker is in use is all we need.

9. Run multiple instances of the same app on the iPad

Multi-tasking on the iPad is very good. If you haven't spent a few minutes learning the gestures, do it now; they're not that hard to absorb and will improve the way you use your iPad. Drag and drop works like a champ between two different applications in split view, but the picture will not be complete until drag and drop works between two documents in the same application. Currently, you can open up two separate Safari windows side-by-side in split view, but that's the only application that has this feature. Imagine opening two different Pages documents side by side and dragging content from one and dropping it into the other. Yes, you're right: That would be great.

10. Add Siri capabilities to more third-party apps

There are lots of things Siri can do, but there are many more things Siri can't do...yet. Top of my list is greater Siri integration with third-party apps. For instance, Overcast is my podcast client of choice in iOS and I have downloaded an episode of Query to it. I can't get Siri to play podcasts in Overcast by saying "Play the Query podcast in Overcast". Interestingly, if I say to Siri, "Play the podcast Query", it has no trouble launching the built-in Podcasts app and playing the episode, even though I haven't subscribed to Query or downloaded an episode for it in the Podcasts app itself. Siri seems to be able to locate the episode in Overcast's library and play it in Podcasts. So we're close--just two little words away--which gives me hope, sometime we can all use this time of year.

And you?

So that's my wish list for software changes I'd love to see in 2018. Tell us about yours in the comments below.

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