A wish­list for the iPhone in 2017

Ev­ery iPhone gets a bet­ter cam­era, but Ap­ple needs to come up with a VR plan too, ar­gues Ja­son Snell

Macworld - - Contents -

There was a time when the iPhone wish list was miles long. In the early days of the smart­phone, there were so many clear gaps that it wasn’t a ques­tion of what fea­tures needed to be added, but in what or­der.

But as the tenth an­niver­sary of the an­nounce­ment of the iPhone nears, the wish list has dwin­dled. The gaps have been filled in. The smart­phone is amaz­ing, es­sen­tial, and a bit bor­ing.

Still, we can dream, can’t we? And so here’s a list – both mun­dane and fan­tas­ti­cal – of the iPhone fea­tures we’re dream­ing of for 2017.

More cam­era improvements

Phone cam­eras can al­ways get bet­ter, so we’d like to see Ap­ple keep the ball rolling in 2017 when it comes to iPhone cam­era up­dates. As a fan of the smaller phone model, we’d like to see it add the se­cond cam­era cur­rently only of­fered on the iPhone 6 Plus.

More in­no­va­tion when it comes to min­gling hard­ware de­sign with soft­ware would be great, too. Can iOS pro­vide more fun ef­fects when it’s got ac­cess to two high-res­o­lu­tion still and video cam­eras? Could it com­bine the front and rear cam­eras to cre­ate some­thing that ap­proaches a 360-de­gree view? What about the abil­ity to shoot video hor­i­zon­tally and ver­ti­cally and choose which ori­en­ta­tion you’d pre­fer to share af­ter the fact?

We’re sure Ap­ple’s photo team has a bunch of ideas. We’re look­ing for­ward to see­ing what they pull out of the hat next.

iCloud stor­age changes

Ap­ple loves its ser­vices rev­enue line, but there’s a dif­fer­ence be­tween add-on ser­vices and fun­da­men­tal fea­tures of your hard­ware. For too many years Ap­ple has skimped on the cloud stor­age you get when you buy an iPhone, and that needs to change.

With the re­lease of new iPhones in the fall, we’d love to see a re­vamped ap­proach to iCloud stor­age. Sure, that could be as easy as rais­ing the free tier of iCloud stor­age from 5GB to 10-, 15- or even 20GB. Even bet­ter would be grant­ing an ad­di­tional amount of stor­age to your Ap­ple ID ev­ery time you add a new iOS de­vice. Those grants

could be lim­ited to a cou­ple of years, if nec­es­sary. But when we buy an iPhone, the cloud stor­age that al­lows me to use it safely and re­place it if it’s stolen and up­grade to a new phone when we’re ready should be part of what we’re buy­ing. We’ll pay ex­tra to store doc­u­ments or my en­tire photo li­brary on­line, but backup should be cov­ered. Peo­ple should never have to see a warn­ing that threat­ens to dis­con­tinue backup un­less they pay Ap­ple money for more stor­age.

Fam­ily Shar­ing fixes

Speak­ing of Ap­ple IDs, a few years ago Ap­ple in­tro­duced Fam­ily Shar­ing, and hasn’t re­ally im­proved it since. It’s past time. It’s time for fam­i­lies to be able to ac­cess a shared iCloud Photo Li­brary, for in­stance.

Fam­i­lies should be able to share iCloud stor­age space too, so we don’t have to buy a ter­abyte for my­self and then spend another £6.99 per month for my wife’s de­vices to back up sep­a­rately.

Sync­ing Pho­tos data

The lat­est improvements to the Pho­tos app use ma­chine learn­ing to let you search for ob­jects in your pho­tos with­out any man­ual tag­ging. It’s pretty cool, but ev­ery time you set up a new de­vice it has to scan your en­tire li­brary anew.

2017’s soft­ware up­date should al­low photo me­ta­data to ride along with the pho­tos in iCloud Photo Li­brary, so that when we buy a new iPhone it doesn’t spend a cou­ple of nights get­ting very warm while it res­cans the pho­tos that all my other de­vices have al­ready scanned four or five times.

A bet­ter screen

The iPhone’s screen is great, but it could al­ways be bet­ter. As much as it’s im­proved, glare in bright sun­light is still an is­sue. The screen could al­ways be brighter. And of course, ev­ery­one would pre­fer if the screen was even harder to scratch and less break­able if you drop it. It may be a long time be­fore there’s a truly un­break­able iPhone, but ev­ery year Ap­ple should try to get closer.

Im­proved wa­ter­proof­ing

The iPhone 7 is the first iPhone to claim wa­ter re­sis­tance, but it’s still not ex­actly safe to take it in the pool and take un­der­wa­ter pho­tos. To­day’s iPhones should sur­vive a brief dunk­ing but of­fi­cially they’re just ‘splash-proof’ – and if your phone’s seals fail, you will dis­cover that Ap­ple’s war­ranty doesn’t cover wa­ter dam­age.

Let’s get there. Ap­ple should keep push­ing its wa­ter­proof­ing tech. The more mois­ture it can sur­vive, the bet­ter.

A bet­ter setup ex­pe­ri­ence

Ap­ple should make the act of buy­ing a new iPhone one that’s pure plea­sure. Un­for­tu­nately, too many times the iPhone setup ex­pe­ri­ence can be frus­trat­ing. Apps take for­ever to re­store, data has to slowly crawl over iCloud (or iTunes). The eas­ier Ap­ple can make this ex­pe­ri­ence, the bet­ter.

A new iPhone SE

We sus­pect the iPhone SE is go­ing to be an ev­ery-two-years sort of up­date, but we’d love to see a new iPhone SE – this time with iPhone 7-cal­i­bre hard­ware – re­leased this spring. A lot of peo­ple re­ally like the smaller-sized iPhone, and the iPhone SE has proven to be sur­pris­ingly suc­cess­ful. Keep the ball rolling.

An an­swer for Day­dream VR

Okay, this is a ridicu­lous one and we think there’s no way it’s go­ing to hap­pen, but we’d love to see Ap­ple take on VR head­sets by cre­at­ing its own ver­sion of Google’s Day­dream View – in other words, an ac­ces­sory that lets you use an iPhone to cre­ate a vir­tual-re­al­ity head­set. The iPhone al­ready has most of the nec­es­sary pro­cess­ing power and sen­sors to be a VR rig. All that’s needed is some tools for de­vel­op­ers and an Ap­ple-built ac­ces­sory that brings it all to­gether.

The truth is, Ap­ple is prob­a­bly more fo­cused on aug­mented re­al­ity than vir­tual re­al­ity, so a pure VR head­set seems like an aw­ful stretch. But let us have this one. Af­ter all, what bet­ter time to dream about the fu­ture than when we’re on the precipice of a new year?

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