Now that it looks quite clear Apple isn’t having a Spring event– it introduced new iPads, pre-announced new Mac Pros, and launched its Clips app in recent weeks without one– all eyes are on its Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) scheduled for June.
There are already quite a few clues about what to expect, and this week we’re taking a look at new features that we’d like to see included in Apple’s next major OS releases. Today, we get things started with macOS…
Siri made its big debut on the Mac at WWDC last year. At the same time Apple launched a Siri SDK to bring app integration on iOS. That was a first step to get Siri up and running on the Mac, so this year we’d expect it to gain some new smarts and possibly some SDK integration for app support on the desktop as well.
Throw in the fact that Apple is said to be working on a new standalone Siri speaker to take on the Amazon Echo and Google Home, and we expect Siri will once again be a big focus at WWDC this year. Here’s what we’re hoping for…
A “Hey Siri” function like on iOS for a hands-free experience would be an easy place to start, and that could also make a lot of sense in combination with HomeKit support (more on that below).
AirPods highlighted the need for an offline mode for Siri— you can’t adjust volume using Siri without an internet connection— and it would likely be even more useful on a Mac where users less often have an internet connection when on the move.
iTunes/Apple Music/TV app
iTunes is a mess. There’s no way around it. Apple has cleaned it up a lot in recent updates, but the app has also become even more bloated as it’s added Apple Music and related features like Beats 1 and radio.
Now, as Apple is about to launch its first original series through Apple Music, there’s never been a better time to rethink its iTunes approach…
We’ve suggested before, as have many others, that macOS should get the iOS treatment by separating the App Store and iTunes storefront from content consumption. In other words, Apple Music and Beats 1 needs its own app for Mac. The new TV app, which debuted in the U.S. for iOS and Apple TV last year, is still missing from the Mac too.
Apple has a lot going on with Apple Music everyday– like live content on Beats 1, interviews, videos, and more– but it’s currently buried within iTunes and not getting the promotion it deserves.
While we’re rethinking content consumption with the iTunes redesign and Apple Music app above, two apps are still missing for a better content experience on macOS: Apple News and Podcasts.
The new Apple News app is available in the U.S., Australia and UK so far, and only on available on iOS devices. We can only imagine Apple News for Mac, since a lot of Mac users consume their news from a MacBook or desktop Mac, is in the cards for macOS as the company continues to expand the service to more users.
Podcasts has never received a lot of love on any platform from Apple, and it could use work on iOS too, but we’d still like to see a standalone experience for Mac alongside the rethinking of iTunes mentioned above. And we’re holding out hope that Apple will have a renewed interest in podcasting in general, as Eddy Cue earlier this year said Apple is indeed “‘working on new features for podcasts.”
Apple introduced its new Photos app on the Mac a couple of years back. It was mostly a welcomed update despite a bit of a learning curve with iCloud Photo Library and a total redesign of the previous iPhoto app it replaced. But now its time to start adding some advanced features that we lost in the new streamlined design, and also some of the more advanced pro features that users lost when Apple retired Aperture shortly after. Better file management and advanced exporting and editing features for pros could help bring back old Aperture users that left for Adobe Lightroom or other when Photos launched. It’s also possible Apple could bring a thing or two over from its new Clips app in terms of fun editing features for the masses.
Group FaceTime calls is a long overdue feature that is rumored to be in the works for iOS 11, and we certainly wouldn’t be mad if Apple brought it to Mac as well.
HomeKit support seems like a natural next step for the Mac. Last year Siri came to the Mac, and Siri is of course a key component of the HomeKit experience, allowing for voice commands for controlling supported accessories.
If Siri gains “Hey Siri” functionality for a hands-free experience on the Mac, lack of HomeKit support this year would be a shame. A lot of us are on our Macs at home, or have a Mac in a central location in the house or office. In many cases it might be more useful to talk to your desktop or MacBook instead of a mobile device.
It would also be a good way to possibly get more non-iPhone and iPad users into the platform that might have Macs at home or work, and also get them ready to start using that standalone Siri speaker rumored to debut this year.
Apple removed its battery estimates from macOS a few months back after it came to the conclusion the “Time remaining” estimates couldn’t keep up with modern processors when switching between low-power and high-performance modes. Instead, now macOS just gives out a remaining percentage of juice left in your battery. Are they gone for good? Or perhaps Apple has had enough time now to come up with a better system for estimating battery life.
While Apple made the switch from the old OS X name to macOS last year, in order to make the branding lineup with its other operating systems, the version number continued the same as always jumping from 10.11 to 10.12.
While we still haven’t had any clues at branding for macOS, a URL spotted last month hinted that Apple would move to 10.13 rather than making the jump to macOS 11 for the next release. Apple will likely continue with its California landmark naming scheme— Sierra last year following El Capitan, Yosemite, and Mavericks from years before— but so far there hasn’t been a hint at possibilities.
Apple previously trademarked a few options including Redwood, Mammoth, California, Big Sur, and Pacific around the same time it also trademarked Yosemite and other names it has used since.
These are just a few of the features we’d love to see this year and we’ll be exploring specifics more in-depth soon. Until then, let us know in the comments what you’re hoping for in the next macOS release.