We're getting our first look at iOS 17 next week, when Apple is almost certainly going to preview its iPhone software at WWDC 2023. And while there's some debate amongst Apple watchers about how substantial this update is going to be — more significant than you might think, the consensus seems to be — there's always the likelihood of a new app arriving with a new version of iOS.
This time around, rumors point to a journaling app joining the mix with iOS 17. The idea, according to the Wall Street Journal which broke the story, is that the app will tap into all that location and activity data on your phone (presumably, with your permission, of course). You can then use that log as a starting point to jog your memory on whatever you did a particular day so that you can create journal entries.
It sounds interesting enough though, given that the Mac and iPad seem better suited to longer-form writing than the iPhone, I hope there's some cross-OS compatibility with macOS and iPadOS. But even if this all comes to pass, I still hope Apple has the bandwidth to add just one more app to iOS 17 — something I've wanted to see on my iPhone home screen for a long time.
I want an app that gives me a one-stop destination for managing all the subscriptions I have with streaming services, productivity apps and whatever other entity is charging me a recurring fee through the App Store.
Yes, the current version of iOS offers something like that, though not in standalone app form. Instead, it's found within the Settings app, and you've got to do some tapping to get there.
Once you launch Settings, tap on your name at the very top of the main screen. From there, you'll jump to a new screen, where there's a Subscriptions subhead, just underneath ones for your password and your payment information. Tap Subscriptions to see a list of everything you're subscribed to, along with inactive subscriptions that you've discontinued. This also happens to be where you can unsubscribe from apps and services from your iPhone.
What an iOS 17 Subscriptions app would do
That's a good start, but I had something a little more helpful in mind. And it starts by breaking that subscription information into a separate app that I don't need to find tucked away in Settings.
In my vision, the standalone Subscriptions app in iOS 17 would do the things the current Subscriptions tab lets you do — list what you've subscribed to and when your renewal date is. You'd also have easy access to ending your subscription or turning it back on.
But I'd imagine a Subscriptions app could do a lot more, starting with letting the app notify you right before a subscription is about to renew, so you're not caught unawares that another billing cycle is about to begin. You'd also get notifications for when free trials are about to stop being free and start charging your credit card.
Currently, the Subscriptions screen lists how much each of your subscriptions is costing you every month, and I'd like that feature to continue in my make-believe app. But I'd also want Subscriptions to work with iOS's Screen Time to calculate just how much time I'm spending with apps I've subscribed to. Presumably, that would include Apple TV data, too, so I'd have some idea if that streaming subscription to ESPN Plus is really worth it.
If we really want to gild the lily, we'd make it so that the Subscriptions app would tally up not just the cost of monthly subscriptions, but any in-app purchase you've made on your iPhone. Those 99-cent add-ons you've acquired from your favorite free-to-play app may seem like no big deal when you make them, but perhaps a glance at a monthly total might make you reassess just how much in-app purchases are costing you.
Why this makes sense for Apple
The benefit to iPhone users from all these features should be pretty apparent. You've got a single, visible place to not only manage your subscriptions but gather data to check if you're spending your money wisely from your iPhone, whether it's on a recurring subscription or a one-time download.
Why would Apple want to do this, since it's getting a cut of that money whether it's well-spent or not? It's just good business. And it builds trust with users who know that they've got helpful tools for keeping their spending on subscriptions and in-app purchases in check.
Besides, a Subscriptions app in iOS 17 would be in the same spirit as some of the other tools Apple includes on its phone. Screen Time, for example, exists becuase Apple doesn't want you constantly staring at your phone. The Fitness app was added in iOS 16 because the company decided it should encourage its phone customers to be more active, even if they didn't go out and spring for an Apple Watch.
In other words, Subscriptions would be an idea that benefits everyone, Apple and its customers alike. And that's true even if the features would be available in a standalone app like the one I've described or part of the Wallet app (which is apparently in line to get an iOS 17 overhaul, according to some rumors.)
iOS 17 outlook
I don't expect any of what I've just described to appear in iOS 17, if for no other reason than it's sprang entirely from my head. But there are iOS 17 rumors out there about features Apple does have planned and none of them have to do with subscriptions.
Besides the possible journaling app and the Wallet refresh, we may see a revamped Control Center. There's the possibility that Apple could open up your iPhone to third-party app stores (an addition I don't care about) and introduce active widgets with greater capabilities than the current static widgets in iOS 16. (Active widgets are a feature I'm very much in favor of.)
There is that potential Wallet refresh, of course, which may be my best hope to see subscription management given more prominence in iOS. But I very much doubt that Apple has that kind of change in mind. Oh well — at least I'm getting my feature requests in early for iOS 18.
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Philip Michaels is a Managing Editor at Tom's Guide. He's been covering personal technology since 1999 and was in the building when Steve Jobs showed off the iPhone for the first time. He's been evaluating smartphones since that first iPhone debuted in 2007, and he's been following phone carriers and smartphone plans since 2015. He has strong opinions about Apple, the Oakland Athletics, old movies and proper butchery techniques. Follow him at @PhilipMichaels.