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iOS 18 wishlist: 5 iPhone features Apple could announce at WWDC 2024

Holding the iPhone 15 Pro with Android phones behind it

Prakhar Khanna/ZDNET

Apple’s next iOS version is rumored to feature a design overhaul, several long-awaited features, and the company’s interpretation of Siri in the age of AI. We’ll know exactly what’s coming in June, during Apple’s Worldwide Developer Conference. For now, one can only wish for what’s to come with iOS 18. 

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While UI elements inspired by the Apple Vision Pro and a more flexible home screen have also been rumored to arrive with the upcoming software version, there are a few more features that I’m hoping to see. These include my favorites from Android that, believe it or not, make practical sense on the iPhone to more ambitious asks because… why not(?). See below for my iOS 18 wishlist.

1. Big-screen features for big-screen iPhones

android-multitasking-on-xiaomi-14-ultra

Multi-window with YouTube and Chrome on the Xiaomi 14 Ultra

Prakhar Khanna/ZDNET

Android is better at multitasking than iOS, and I will die on that hill. While Apple improved on that aspect with Dynamic Island, the iPhone remains a step behind Android when handling multiple tasks at once — and it’s the one feature I miss the most whenever I’m using the iPhone again as a primary. Functions like multi or floating windows would be very beneficial to have on iOS 18.

I’m a big-screen phone user, and there have been times when I’ve researched and saved information about articles on my Android phone with Chrome and Google Keep running simultaneously — or calculated my invoices with Sheets and the calculator app running as a pop-up window. Doing that is more intensive on the iPhone because you have to switch between apps.

Also: 7 iPad Pro features I want to see Apple announce during its May event

It doesn’t help that currently, Apple’s approach to optimizing software for Plus and Pro Max models is to simply expand existing text and UI, which benefits readability more than functionality. The big iPhones can easily run two apps on the same screen, allowing us to make actual use of the larger real estate.

2. The best AI features that already exist

Circle to Search with Google - Samsung Galaxy S24

Kerry Wan/ZDNET

After using the Galaxy S24 Ultra (Samsung’s “AI smartphone”) and the Google Pixel 8 Pro, I have a fairly good idea of how AI can help make the iPhone experience more intuitive.

First, a form of Google’s Circle to Search to learn more about anything that’s on my screen. For example, the feature comes in handy when I see someone wearing a specific type of sneaker on Instagram and I want to know more about it, or when I discover unfamiliar Twitter/X lingo. A press-and-hold of the iOS home/gesture bar for a quick screen scan and search would be very helpful.

Also: Three iPhone 16 features that would win me over from Android

Secondly, bring AI to the Photos app for better editing! From Google’s Magic Editor to Samsung’s Generative Edit to OnePlus’ new AI eraser — all give you a way to edit out distracting objects and photobombers from images. Not only are these fun to play around with but I often use the tools to remove strangers from a shot and let generative AI handle the rest by filling in the background.  

Lastly, a live translation feature could be helpful for frequent travelers, with the iPhone being able to detect text and audio in another language and give me a popup to translate it to English or another desired language, especially in apps like Messages, WhatsApp, and Files.

3. A smarter, more useful Siri

Siri on iPhone

Maria Diaz/ZDNET

The state of Siri, the iPhone’s voice assistant, is rather dull and gloomy; For a service that’s available on millions of iPhones worldwide, it’s not as capable as Google Assistant or Amazon’s Alexa. I’d say it feels like an era away from both of them. 

Apple is said to be planning to improve Siri with large-language models (LLMs), which are also used by chatbots like ChatGPT and Google Gemini. According to a report from Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman, Apple is working on making Siri and Messages work better by allowing the voice assistant to auto-complete sentences.

Also: Apple reportedly eyeing generative AI push and Siri overhaul for the iPhone

If this happens, it’ll be less painful to converse with Siri and it’ll likely answer your questions in a more conversational manner instead of replying with some form of web search result. For instance, generative AI could allow Siri to explain concepts, draft messages and emails, and even create images and visuals at your order, making it much more of a creation tool than it is currently.

4. Better notification management, please

Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra Instagram notifications

Prakhar Khanna/ZDNET

For as long as I can remember using Android and iOS, I’ve always preferred Android’s notification management over iPhone’s. The notification abyss on iOS is disorganized and often irritating to use. I don’t want to see a week-old notification if I just interacted with the app. It would also be helpful if the “Clear all” option appeared more consistently, as I often find myself needing to swipe away multiple notifications from the same app, one by one, just to clear the alerts tray.

On Android, if there are multiple notifications from the same app, say direct messages from friends on Instagram, they are grouped together with a number count. I can then swipe down to see each message to interact with the one I want, or I can clear it all with one swipe. 

Also: How to enable notification history on your Android (and why you should)

But on the iPhone, each app has its own notifications and they’re stacked only when there are multiple messages from one sender. Add other services like WhatsApp, Messages, Gmail, and you have a chaotic Notification Center waiting for you first thing in the morning. I hope that Apple takes a page out of Android’s notification management to make its system better, more intuitive, and easier to navigate. Perhaps an AI-powered summary of your notifications when you wake up in the morning? I digress.

5. Home screen freedom!

iPhone 15 Pro and Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra with home screens on

Prakhar Khanna/ZDNET

One of the biggest shifts when switching from Android to iPhone is the more rigid home screen setup. I’ll give Apple its credit, the more recent addition of widgets in various sizes and stacks has made it much easier to organize the home screen app layout. However, it’s still overwhelming having to fill the uppermost rows with apps just to place more on the bottom of the home screen.

On Android, I can place my most-used apps in a few folders and situate them at the bottom of the screen for easier reachability. I like having the rest of the screen clear, with just a weather widget on top. But on my iPhone, I have a widget stack and a few app folders like Productivity and Shopping for the sake of spacing.

Fortunately, iOS 18 could be the software version that finally lets you freely rearrange app icons on your home screen. Yes, you’ll be able to create blank columns, empty rows, and open spaces between apps, according to a recent report from MacRumors.


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