Every year brings a new version of iOS, and we're about to find out what Apple has planned for this year's installment. On Monday (June 3), Apple kicks off its WWDC 2019 event, where we're all but certain to get a sneak preview of iOS 13 before the full release comes out this fall.
Apple's planned improvements to its mobile operating system are doubtlessly locked in at this point. (You can read our roundup of iOS 13 rumors to see the most likely changes and enhancements coming to the iPhone and iPad.) Still, that's not going to stop us from hoping that Apple works in a few of these changes between now and iOS 13's fall release.
Dark Mode is all the rage among mobile operating systems these days. In May, for example, Google announced that it was bringing a Dark Theme to its Android Q update coming later this year. Well, this is one time Apple shouldn't dare to be different; having the option to switch over to a dark interface makes it easier to view a screen at night without straining your eyes. (That's something Apple itself can tell you, since the company included a Dark Mode feature in macOS Mojave last year.) And Dark Mode can also save battery life, particularly on OLED screens for the iPhone XS and iPhone XS Max.
Fortunately, it doesn't sound like we need to do much convincing with Apple. Bloomberg reported in early May that Dark Mode was on the docket for iOS 13; you'll be able to quickly access the feature from iOS 13's Control Center. And leaked screenshots purportedly of iOS 13 show off Dark Mode in all its black-and-gray glory. Our eyes are already feeling less taxed. — Philip Michaels
Improvements to Maps
I don't hate Apple's oft-kicked Maps app the way other people do, but even I have to admit that Google Maps has long lapped Apple's effort in terms of features. Just recently, Google flipped the switch on augmented directions, in which you can hold up your phone and see overlaid arrows showing you which way to turn. It's a much more elegant solution than staring at a blue dot on a screen and trying to determine if you're walking in the right direction.
According to rumors, Maps in iOS 13 is due for a refresh, and the promised update does sound helpful. Apple will reportedly make it easier to set favorite locations in Maps so that you can more easily pull up the places you frequent, like work, home and school. That will make it easier to navigate back to those spots when you're in an unfamiliar area, but I'd like Apple to dream even bigger with Maps.
As a devoted user of public transit, I like the current feature where I can tap a subway station and see upcoming departures. I wouldn't mind it if Apple made that info easier to find, though. I'd also like to see the feature extended to more-regional forms of transit, like bus and ferry schedules. Apple could also make it easier to plan out routes when you have to make multiple stops, as the current feature suffers from some limitations. — Philip Michaels
Complete, unhindered web browser
Many people are OK with the limitations of Safari's mobile version; to them, Safari on an iOS device looks like just another web browser. But try to bank within Safari instead of your bank's app or use on a web-based program that has no app version (say, an education industry program for teachers or IT facilitators, or the engine that this site runs on). Then, you quickly learn the limits of browsing within Apple's restricted browser.
Whether that's because of mobile Safari's lack of support for Java or some other reason, these limitations are crippling to anyone who wants their iPad to be their new computer or who needs to take care of high-priority work from an iPhone. It's even happened to me. I was out at dinner with colleagues when news broke late in the evening, and instead of being able to do my job remotely, I had to leave the gathering and go back to the office.
And if someone at Apple argues that this is a potential security risk, I'd be more than OK with Apple keeping this option hidden in Settings, under Accessibility. — Henry T. Casey
iOS cursor control
In another feature for the "Finally" file, Federico Viticci of the Connected podcast broke the news that iOS 13 will support external devices like mice and clickers. Apparently, you'll be able to go into iOS 13's Accessibility settings, flip a toggle or two, and then be able to plug in an input device that lets you control the cursor more elegantly. That can replace the current method of tapping the screen and hoping your touch was accurate enough.
Obviously, this has big implications for the iPad, as it would be a big step toward turning Apple's tablet into a legitimate laptop replacement. But I hope the iPhone isn't left out of Apple's newfound realization that sometimes people want an external input device so that they can be more productive. Yes, the iPad is the primary beneficiary of this feature, but since we're living in an age of increasingly larger iPhone screens, more of us are using our phones to get things done. The option to plug in a mouse or trackpad when we need to move the iPhone's cursor would certainly make composing emails and longer text passages less of a chore. — Philip Michaels
Dynamic app icons
Forgive us for beating a drum that's been crushed to death by now, but the iOS home screen is a wealth of untapped potential that Apple seems unwilling to realize. Perhaps some of that rigidity is for the best; after all, long-time iPhone users would probably agree that it isn't necessarily broken and therefore shouldn't be fixed. However, those rows of icons are pretty useless for relaying glanceable information, and that's something that Apple should've addressed ages ago.
Sure, multirow widgets are probably a little excessive, but there's always an argument for a Weather app icon that, you know, actually displays the current weather conditions and temperature. It surely wouldn't be applicable for every app, nor should it be — though we can think of a few others, like Stocks and Compass, that would probably benefit too. — Adam Ismail
Third-party apps in Control Center
I love the Control Center in iOS, which provides easy access to Do Not Disturb mode (for when I'm at the movies), the timer (for when I'm making my cold-brew coffee) and the Remote app (for when I've lost that easy-to-misplace Apple TV Remote). But I — and you, presumably — can't live off Apple apps alone. So, Apple, please allow third-party apps to integrate into the Control Center. That way, I could quickly start a Gmail message, play the next podcast in my Overcast queue and create a new To-Do item in Things. — Henry T. Casey
Save 3D Touch for fixing Control Center
3D Touch, Apple's somewhat unused way to find more features by pressing harder on the iPhone's screen, doesn't need to die, as has been rumored. There's a key place where 3D Touch could address a long-standing need. In the Control Center (swipe down from the top right corner on new iPhones, or up from the bottom on earlier models), there's a section for enabling and disabling Wi-Fi and Bluetooth. Ask any phone user, though, and they'll tell you that there's one missing feature — selecting a network or device.
For those who want that extra step, let us 3D Touch the Wi-Fi and Bluetooth buttons to open the lists of options. Also, in that 3D Touch-based menu, Apple really ought to add a true On/Off kill switch for Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, as you can only disable for a short period currently. — Henry T. Casey
Health App redesign
The word on iOS 13 is that the Health app — that built-in app where you can log exercise, sleep and other vital data — is going to pick up new features. Specifically, Health is expected to get a new hearing section that will help you avoid playing your music too loud over headphones as well as period-tracking features.
Both would be welcome changes, but I think there's another issue with Health that Apple should address in iOS 13: It's just too cluttered. You need to do too much drilling down to access the information in the Health Data tab you're looking for. Apple has also bogged down the app with useless videos extolling the virtues of activity, mindfulness and a good night's sleep. (I know, Apple! That's why I'm in the app!)
Sleep analysis gathered in conjunction with iOS's Sleep feature is so haphazardly collected as to not actually be useful. (According to the Sleep app, I've never slept more than 3 hours on any given night.) I'd like to see Health put more data front and center and display it accurately, or not at all. — Philip Michaels
A sensible Undo command and other gesture improvements
Make a mistake on your iPhone right now, and your only options are to mash that on-screen delete key or physically shake your phone as if it's become more Shake Weight than handset. Couldn't we have some other, better way of doing things?
We can, according to Guilherme Rambo, a developer writing for 9to5Mac, who reports that iOS 13 has an undo gesture. It's a three-finger tap on the keyboard, apparently, and no matter how it's implemented, it's bound to be more elegant than the current Shake to Undo approach. That same report hints at other gesture controls for selecting multiple items and, on the iPad at least, moving around multiple windows in apps. Bring 'em on, I say. — Philip Michaels
iOS support for older models
Updates are one area in which even the most rabid Android partisans must nod to iOS's superiority, as Apple makes updates available to all supported devices at the same time. Even better, Apple extends that support back a long way; if you're still clinging to an iPhone 5s, for example, you can still use iOS 12 nearly six years after that phone's debut.
So, when we saw a rumor that iOS 13 would drop support for anything older than the iPhone 6s, we were understandably concerned. That would mean the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus, which were part of an upgrade boom in 2014, wouldn't get the same lengthy support as previous iPhone models. The iPhone SE, also rumored to be on the outside looking in with iOS 13, would be stuck with an even fuzzier end of the lollipop — that phone debuted only three years ago.
Here's hoping that this particular iOS 13 rumor doesn't pan out and that Apple continues to offer A9-powered iOS devices their due. — Philip Michaels