5 cool features we want to see in iOS and iPadOS 17

5 cool features we want to see in iOS and iPadOS 17

WWDC 2023 is fast approaching, so let’s speculate on Apple’s mobile operating system plans ahead of the big show.

(Credit: René Ramos)

Apple has made impressive strides with its updates to iOS and iPadOS over the years, delivering rich customization options, enhanced apps, and radically improved functionality across the system. There’s always room for improvement though, and we’ll soon see what Cupertino has in store for its phones and tablets at WWDC 2023.

Given the constant pressure from Google’s Android operating system, the race to get better and better never ends. Apple’s iOS 16 and iPadOS 16 were fantastic improvements over the previous year’s OS releases, and we have no doubt that version 17 will improve the ecosystem even further. Still, we expect the following five features to make their way to upcoming mobile operating systems.

Testing the iMessage edition

(Credit: Apple, PCMag)

1. RCS Compatibility in iMessages

Apple uses a proprietary messaging service, iMessage, that allows you to send text messages to other people. Lots of wonderful features are attached to the app including Live Text, Visual Look Up and the ability to edit messages. However, these features become useless when interacting with Android phones and tablets, as mobile devices running Google’s operating system do not support iMessage’s many unique capabilities.

Android uses Chat, a Rich Communications Services (RCS) protocol. It’s leaps and bounds above basic SMS functionality and offers convenient and accessible content-sharing functionality that’s on par with Apple’s iMessage. However, Apple doesn’t support the protocol, which means your fancy Android chat messages are received as basic SMS messages.

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Google has constantly improved its RCS protocol over the years, such as adding end-to-end encryption that keeps your communications secure and private. Hopefully, Apple will decide to play nice with RCS and announce support for it during WWDC 2023.

Apple Maps Test

(Credit: Apple, PCMag)

2. The ability to set a default map app

Apple Maps has enjoyed years of improvements and even beats Google Maps in some areas. For example, the app’s cleaner visuals and interface make it a great navigation tool compared to Google Maps and its information overload. That said, that same surplus of information makes Google Maps the go-to tool for finding businesses and restaurants.

However, there is no way to set a default map app on an iOS or iPadOS device. Some apps, like Chrome or Safari, prefer to open one map app or another, but you can’t select your preference from system settings. We would like to have this option in the future.

iPad and multiple accounts

(Credit: Eric Zeman)

3. Improved support for multiple users and child accounts in iPadOS

The iPad is a technological marvel, but it does have some limitations. The most obvious is the single user approach of the iPad. You can use multiple Apple IDs on a single iPad, but you can’t create multiple profiles; the primary account is the one that retains control over apps, Safari bookmarks, iTunes purchases, and other features. Multiple users can download their favorite apps, but this clutters up the iPad and makes upgrading to a new device a pain in the ass. For example, you can use workarounds to make sharing easier by using multiple email applications to keep inboxes separate. However, we would like to see full sharing on iPads with the upcoming iPadOS 17 update.

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This extends to child accounts and age restrictions as well. Setting restrictions on your iPad turns off age-inappropriate apps and content for everyone who uses the tablet. You’ve no doubt come across situations where you need to disable restrictions on downloading content for yourself, and then re-enable these restrictions when you hand the tablet over to your child. It is cumbersome and impractical. Improved and intuitive age restriction for child accounts would be a huge improvement to the operating system.

You can't download Fortnite on iOS or iPadOS

(Credit: Apple, Epic Games)

4. The ability to download apps on iOS and iPadOS

The App Store is convenient for downloading and installing apps on your iPhone or iPad. However, it is limited to the App Store only; if an app isn’t there, Apple won’t let you install it. This is contrary to Google’s approach, where you are encouraged to use the Google Play store, but not restricted to it. If you have a Samsung phone, you have even more options as you can also use the Galaxy Store to make purchases.

This process of downloading apps from alternative or unofficial resources is called sideloading. Unfortunately, Apple has kept a tight rein on this functionality, so you can effectively download Fortnite on an Android device, but not an Apple phone or tablet. With iOS 17 and iPadOS 17, we hope Apple will cut loose and let you download the apps you want.

iPhone camera test

(Credit: Eric Zeman)

5. Improved photos and camera functionality

When it comes to photos, Apple and Google have traded blows in the form of cutting-edge imaging functionality. Android has its Magic Eraser technology that allows you to remove subjects and clean up photos right on your device. Meanwhile, Apple has Live Text and Visual Look Up that help you identify text and subjects in photos for additional context. However, there is an upcoming Android feature that is sure to make iPhone users envious.

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During this year’s Google I/O conference, Google revealed that Android would be getting Magic Editor, a powerful artificial intelligence tool that can not only remove objects but also reposition them. It allows you to make major photo edits without professional or third-party tools. We’d love to see iOS and iPadOS include enhanced photo editing features like this in the future so we can fix problematic photos.

For more, check out everything else we hope to see at WWDC 2023, and be sure to tune in to PCMag for firsthand coverage of the event.

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