What’s next for iOS: Quality of life changes or major overhaul?

By | 20th November 2017
Apple Think different

It seems premature to be speculating about what’s next for iOS considering Apple just released iOS 11 a month ago, but there’s something about a big update that makes you think about what you like, don’t like, and what you’d like to see happen in the future of an operating system. Between the recent update to iOS 11 and this popular Reddit thread suggesting that iOS 12 should focus on improving the flaws of iOS rather than trying to make new features, I couldn’t help but think about what I would like to see with the next version of iOS myself.

Initially, I had the same thought process as the author of the thread, techgeek1129. Overall, I consider iOS 11 an alright update, but there were some changes I really didn’t like (namely the notification center being identical to the lockscreen, which I still haven’t gotten used to) and others that I really did (like customization of Control Center). However, after a month with iOS 11, I would probably consider the update underwhelming at best. There were some updates, but none that made me think, “Wow! How did I ever live without the changes made in this update?” Which is fine if that doesn’t happen with every major update – sometimes minor quality of life changes is all that’s needed – but in the case of iOS, I’m of the opinion that more (arguably minor updates) could have been added this time around to make it more impressive.

Take dark mode, for example. Anytime I download a new app, one of the first things I do is look for a dark mode, if applicable. Dark mode is much more pleasant on the eyes than the blinding white seen throughout much of iOS, and I can’t believe that there still isn’t a system-wide option for dark mode. Notes, Messages, Calendar, Phone, Reminders, Photos – all a very bright shade of white that, even on the dimmest setting, can be a strain on the eyes at night or early in the morning. I mean, if there was ever a cheap and insignificant way to win your users over, it’s to implement a dark mode.

Another QoL change that would probably make a lot of people happy? An updated stock keyboard. Don’t get me wrong, it’s nice that the option to use third party keyboards finally exist, but part of the appeal of the iPhone was that everything was “just supposed to work”. It’s an overstatement for sure, but it’s becoming more of an overstatement as time goes on and many aspects of iOS stay just the same as they did ten years ago. And sure, the iOS keyboard was amazing ten years ago, but it’s not amazing anymore. I don’t know if it’s a pride thing or what, but updating the keyboard to at least include swipe doesn’t seem like an outrageous request. Also, the Taptic Engine on the iPhone 6S and above is amazing – why is that not being used for keyboard haptic feedback?

And finally, there’s the notification center. It’s messy. It’s unintuitive. It doesn’t even make much sense. Your notification center is your lock screen and there’s no longer an option to group your notifications by app. It just needs to be fixed, along with that obnoxiously large volume icon that overstays its welcome when I want to change the volume.

For the most part, those are very small implementations that would honestly probably make a lot of people happy if that’s all iOS 12 included. But then there’s the other thing you have to consider: Could iOS thrive with yet another mostly quality of life update, or does something more major need to be implemented?

iOS 1 vs iOS 11

iOS certainly feels like it’s a bit stuck in time in terms of design. If you were to place an original iPhone next to a modern iPhone – even the iPhone X - the two would be a lot more similar than an original Android device next to a modern day one. One could easily argue that there’s no need to change a good thing, and for many, the simplicity of iOS’s design is a good thing. On the other hand, we already have a shining example in the mobile industry of what can happen if a company gets too complacent with BlackBerry. While nobody can say for sure the same thing will eventually happen to Apple, it’s humbling to keep it in mind.

It might sound like I loathe iOS and the only clear solution for somebody who feels like I do is to simply switch to Android, but for the most part I really do like iOS and would like to see the platform flourish to its full potential – not just for iOS users, but for Android users as well. After all, competition breeds innovation, so it’s good to keep these kinds of discussions going.

Readers, what are your thoughts on the matter? When it comes to iOS 12, do you think that Apple should focus on quality of life updates, or release something major? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!