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Six Colors

by Jason Snell & Dan Moren

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By Jason Snell

My WWDC 2022 wishlist

Wishing doesn’t make it so.

When Apple makes its announcements at the WWDC keynote on Monday—Dan and I will both be there, in person, to cover it!—it will be revealing stuff that’s been in the works for months. In fact, for the better part of the year.

So I realize that wishing real hard in the direction of Apple Park isn’t going to change a single thing that will be announced Monday. That won’t stop me from hoping that at least some of my dreams might come true, though.

Here’s what I want to see:

iPad Pro momentum. Fans of the iPad Pro (and I am one) have been complaining for years that its software hasn’t been able to take advantage of the power of its hardware. Once again, we’re hoping for a sign from Apple that it knows what the future of the iPad looks like.

Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman has reported that Apple may unveil a “professional mode” for iPad, which could be a very clever way to add features that iPad power users want without cuttering and confusing the base iPad interface, which is (let’s be honest) what most users prefer.

Now that Apple’s shipping the Studio Display, now would be the perfect time for the addition of support for non-mirrored external display on iPadOS. But you can’t really do that without revamping multitasking, including either a sophisticated tiling system or a Mac-like set of overlapping windows.

After the introduction of the globe key in iPadOS 15 last fall, I’d also like to see Apple embrace systemwide keyboard shortcuts on the iPad. Productivity would get a big boost if I could run shortcuts and control other apps from my Magic Keyboard—or from any keyboard when I’m docked to a big external display.

But really, I just want Apple to do something resembling anything.

The next generation of Mac. Wishing for new hardware at a WWDC is a fool’s game, but I’m willing to be foolish when it comes to the MacBook Air. Based on numerous reports, Apple has been trying to ship a redesigned MacBook Air since last year. At some point, it’ll happen. Maybe now’s the time. Colorful laptops would be great for the back-to-school crowd, and Apple could ramp up production by the holiday season.

Even better, the MacBook Air is the perfect vehicle to kick off the next cycle of Apple silicon with the M2 processor. It’s been 18 months since Apple introduced the M1. Seems like it’s time for the next generation.

And would I turn down a sneak preview of the Apple silicon version of the Mac Pro? No, I would not. But I don’t expect it to ship anytime soon… and that’s fine.

A way forward for app development. In 2018, Apple introduced Mac Catalyst as the future of Mac-iPad app development. Then in 2019, it introduced SwiftUI, the future of all Apple platform app development. But developers I talk to say that SwiftUI is still quite limited and is in desperate need of improvement. It’s great that Apple is building new ways of building apps across its platforms, but it needs to show its commitment with major improvements to what’s there.

There might be some reason for hope in this regard: Last fall, Apple shipped a new version of its own Shortcuts app, which relied on SwiftUI. It had a lot of growing pains… and perhaps those pains, experienced by Apple’s own developers, helped inform the development of SwiftUI. For the sake of the many app developers out there, I sure hope so.

Keep up the Shortcuts progress. I love Shortcuts, and last year’s announcement that it was going to be part of the future of Mac automation was a delightful surprise. Shortcuts is one of the best new features to come to the Mac in years—and while I was a big proponent of bringing it to the Mac, not even I expected it to be this useful this quickly.

But there’s more work to be done on Shortcuts across all of Apple’s platforms. Better automation, better actions from Apple apps, improved stability, better documentation… there’s so much room for Shortcuts to grow and flourish. What I don’t want to see is Apple deciding that Shortcuts has grown enough for now, and so it’s turning its attention elsewhere. No. The job is started, but it’s not done. Keep your foot on the gas, Apple. Shortcuts is going places—if you don’t get in its way.

A sign of a proper home strategy. The HomePod flopped, and the Home app has never been good. The release of the HomePod mini showed that perhaps Apple’s turning around its smart-home strategy, but I’d like to see more. Better home automations? Better home interfaces across all of Apple’s operating systems? Yes, please. (I’d start by throwing out the Home app and making a new one, re-thought from the ground up.)

A development path for its VR/AR hardware. All signs point to Apple not announcing its much-rumored VR/AR headset at WWDC. Okay, I’ll accept that. And yet… this is the perfect time for Apple to get developers working on its next major software platform if that’s what “realityOS” turns out to be.

So could Apple thread the needle here? It would be a very different strategy, but I think it could announce realityOS, announce support for a development environment that involves tethering available third-party headsets to Macs, and essentially start the clock on VR app development well in advance of announcing what its actual product is.

Now, you’re saying to yourself: Jason, that’s not how Apple does it. And you’re right. But everyone knows Apple is making this product! If Apple kept the details under wraps and just shipped a development environment, would it really shake the foundations of what we know Apple to be? Apple’s shown an openness to change its strategy when the time is right, and it invited developers and press to come in person to Cupertino next week for a reason. The best reason would have something to do with that VR/AR headset. If the hardware’s not ready, a developer message and technology preview would be the next best thing. And it leaves the drama of the real product unveiling for another event later this year.

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