By Dan Moren
April 30, 2019 9:28 AM PT
The Back Page: Three wish list
We’re still about a month away from WWDC, but I know that the hardworking folks at Apple may need a little lead time when it comes to developing new ideas, and I want to be considerate about that.
Fact is, I’ve noticed a few shortcomings in my Apple devices over the last few years, and those gaps in functionality have gone spectacularly unaddressed in recent updates. So, it occurs to me, maybe the teams at Apple don’t realize just how annoying these problems are.
In that spirit, allow me to share with you (and with our good friends in Cupertino), my top three features still needed in Apple products, all of which I’m sure could be easily added to the upcoming versions of the company’s operating systems.
The advent of modern spam filtering has helped weed out a lot of junk email, but it’s still a problem that we all have to deal with, day in and day out. Recent versions of the Mail app have added tools to help improve the process of getting off mailing lists, like a smart Unsubscribe button, but they simply don’t go far enough. No, what you want is a button that, when pressed, roots out evil at its very source, destroying its capability of ever sending email again. I’m talking frying their computers from stem to stern, from soup to nuts, from CPU to keyboard. Disproportionate, you might say, but is any price too high not to have to get campaign fundraising emails ever again?
Machine learning has gotten better and better at anticipating our actions, but we’ve yet to really give it the wheel. Sure, it makes suggestions about things we might want to do, but sometimes you just want the computer to go ahead and do them. Case in point, Apple’s Calendar app. Who really wants to keep track of their calendar when they have a computer that could just as easily do it for us? So here’s the Holy Grail: one-touch vacation scheduling. At the tap of a button, Calendar could go ahead and block out a week at the time of year when it knows you aren’t busy and don’t have any other commitments (rescheduling any pesky dentist appointments), and then use information gleaned from your emails, social media posts, and iMessages to reserve that treehouse Airbnb you sent your partner, book cheap and comfortable flights, and create an itinerary that lets you check items off that Bucket List you made in Reminders. All you have to do is approve it via Apple Pay. And, optionally, go.
By this point, my Macs and iOS devices have lived through me writing at least half a dozen novels, some of which have even seen the light of day. You’d think with that much exposure that Pages could easily help me concoct the next book that I’m contracted to write on a timeframe that is just way too short. It’s the only reasonable explanation as to why publishers only give you nine months to write your next book when they know perfectly well it took years to finish the first one. Hey Siri, do you have a paper bag to breathe into?
[Dan Moren is the East Coast Bureau Chief of Six Colors. You can find him on Twitter at @dmoren or reach him by email at email@example.com. The latest novel in his Galactic Cold War series of sci-fi space adventures, The Nova Incident, is available now.]