My Wishes for iOS 13

WWDC 2019 Artwork

iOS 13 is rumored to be a pretty big update, probably one of the biggest release in a long time. While we wait for it, here are my wishes for iOS 13.

Improve photographer support

As an amateur photographer, a passionate one, this is the most important area where I wish Apple improves iOS. I’m not thinking only about the many improvements Apple could bring to its Photos.app. I’m thinking globally, in many areas of iOS. I’ wishing for the details that will actually make a real difference as a photographer on the go who tries to make the iPhone and the iPad an integral part of his or her workflow. As I wrote a while back, there are a few places in my photography workflow that could see improvements.

First, the importation process must be improved. What comes first after a photo shoot is the import process for selecting the best shots. As you know, it is not the best experience to just plug in an SD card from the camera and start from there. One of the reason is the obligatory use of the builtin photo library as the only import destination. For many photographers, photos won’t end up in Apple’s photo library but somewhere else like on a cloud storage or simply as unmanaged files. iOS 13 must allow the photographer to select a different target than the photo library. My suggestion would be to present the Files.app as the starting point for the importation process. From there, the final target would be selected, which could be the photo library (as a storage provider) or any storage provider installed on the iPad. Many photography apps are already using the file browser as their starting point – Pixelmator Photo is one example1. If iOS 13 brings a better Files.app this could be a real relief.

Second, Files.app must include easier metadata viewing. For a photographer, seeing photo’s EXIF metadata is mandatory. Files.app already provides basic metadata access for any files like the creation date or the file type. EXIF metadata is just another kind of metadata that should be included as well. Easy to do. Will Apple do it?

Augment the camera app

If Apple wants to regain its lead in the photography field on smartphone, they have to push it hard this time around2. RAW format photos is another area where iOS 13 has to bring better and clearer support. APIs for using the RAW capabilities of the iPhone camera are already there. iOS developers can use them to build popular camera apps like Halide. Why is Apple shy of using them in its own camera app? Why RAW photos are not easily found in Photos.app with a builtin smart album like Portraits or Long Exposure? Hard to say.

Finally, on the photography side, Apple could find inspiration in photo processing apps by looking at Pixelmator Photo or Darkroom in order to rework the editing capabilities on its own Photos.app. Since it came out in 2015, better ways of editing photos were created and it seems there is some sort of consensus on how to do it. And this is not how Apple presents it.

Complete file management

People can understand what is a file system. This is an important part of our computer literacy. And this is true for the young generation too who may not be big users of traditional computers but they are exposed to file systems anyways on services like Dropbox, OneDrive or Google Drive. I see no reason why Apple should refrain themselves to implement a more complete experience in regard to file management on iOS.

Now that the 2018 iPad Pro comes with USB-C, it is easy now to expect more than ever for things like USB thumb drives. Coupled with the rumored support of file download in Safari, this would complete the picture. But, would all type of USB-C storage be supported? Would a spinning hard drive be supported? How would iOS presents to the user that it is waiting for the hardware to spin up when you plug it in?

Improve iPad multitasking

One of the thing that I miss from the application switching interface on the iPad is the possibility to merge two apps and bring them side by side with a simple gesture. Tapping and holding one application thumbnail then browsing to find the second application followed by a second tap and “bring on top” of the first thumbnail could just be the trigger.

Make the iPad a great and intelligent external display

The iPad is a wonderful screen. Having such a device but not being able to us it with an iMac as an external display is a waste of hardware. I can see scenarios where, with my iPad and Lightroom on my iMac, I could be more productive. This is why I wrote a review of Duet Display which I use from time to time while selecting my best shots in Lightroom. But let’s face it, this is kind of a hack, right? It work’s fine but this is not perfect.

My wish is that I can connect my 2018 iPad Pro on my iMac. While doing so, files located on my iPad would be available in the Finder so I can take them out of the iPad or work with them directly. Above all, because this is a USB-C link, my iPad would be charging and allow for very efficient file transfer. All this while acting like an external display. Am I asking too much?

Add complete external display support to the iPad

Now, in a complete different scenario, I want to be able to bring my iPad at work and hook it up to an external display. And I want better support for thirdparty apps too. Pixelmator Pro could display rendering of the photo I’m retouching. Files.app could display file preview on the external display while peeking at them. Even the Music.app could use the external display to show a visualizer like we used to be able in iTunes.

The obvious ones

Now, a few more things that I think are a given considering the rumor mills.

  • Dark Mode but I would have preferred something that doesn’t need a dark mode. Because modern UIs are all white, this creates the need for modes, hence a dark mode. There has to be a better way.
  • Share sheet redesign (see my point here) would help.
  • Reworked volume HUD. Less intrusive.
  • Redo the “UIActivityMonitor”. This design goes back to the first days of iOS.

While waiting for the real thing

While we wait for the big revelation at WWDC, people like me are thinking about how iOS could become or should become. Here is a short list of articles or blog posts with a few comments.

I wrote about one of the coolest iOS 13 mockup a while back.

Another iOS 13 wish list for photographers that you should look at. Very much in line with my own thoughts here.

iOS 13 Beyond Powerful: two things stand out in this visual essay, the Files.app and the Dark Mode in iMessages. I like those very much. This visual essay is static, there is no animated mockup. Yet, this is quite impressive work.

From a developer stand point: WWDC 2019 Developer Wishlist and Keynote Predictions: if you are an iOS developer, you’ll be at home there.

iOS 13: 5 features at the top of the wish list: Jason Snell put a rework of the Files.app on the top of his list.

Redesigning the macOS desktop experience: In this article targeted at redesigning the macOS desktop, I see brilliant ideas that could make it to the iPad “desktop” in regard to the multitasking experience. I can see the designer’s inspiration taking a cue from the current iPad implementation of using more than one app at a time. You really have to have a look at this article.

Finally, WWDC, A Wish List (2019 Edition), by the one and only Steve Troughton-Smith. Notable wishes include Xcode for iPad, mouse support in iOS as another interactive method. Must read.

One more thing

And finally, one more wish: bring some refreshed visuals to the user interface. Bring some depth, less flatness. Bring back delight. Make it more organic. Make it more dynamic. If Apple copies a few things from Android, I don’t mind.

Can’t wait for the keynote next Monday.

  1. You can read my review of Pixelmator Photo here.
  2. I made quite a few suggestions on how Apple could improve their own camera.app on this blog post.

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