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iOS 17 could be amazing if Apple makes these 7 changes

Apple recently released the iPhone 14 and iPhone 14 Pro, and the latest and greatest iPhones were equipped with iOS 16. While some features that Apple announced for iOS 16 and iPadOS 16 are still making their way to our devices, it’s never too early to start thinking about what’s to come next.

Given Apple’s usual schedule, we should expect an announcement of iOS 17 during its 2023 Worldwide Developer Conference (WWDC). Here’s what I’m hoping to see in the next iteration of iOS.

Better customization for lock and home screens

iPhone 14 Pro home screen with custom app icons and the Activity and Fantastical widgets
Christine Romero-Chan / Digital Trends

When Apple launched iOS 14, it finally gave us the ability to customize our home screens without having to jailbreak the device. This meant widgets on the home screen, as well as theming our iPhone with custom app icons through the Shortcuts app. Plus, there are widget-creating apps that let you complete your theme (if that’s what you desire).

This year, iOS 16 gave us lock screen customization in the form of changing the color and font on the date and time, as well as glanceable widgets. It’s pretty simple, but considering that the lock screen is the first thing we see when we pick up our iPhone, having that makes it feel just a little more personal.

However, compared to Android, the customization options are still severely limited on iOS. The process of changing up your custom app icons is tedious and time-consuming, and the lock screen is lacking. Not to mention, the interface kind of sucks.

Wallpaper settings on the iPhone 14 Pro.
Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

I would love to see Apple make changing custom app icons something that can be done in either the app itself (aside from options developers can include) or in the device settings. Heck, Apple could make bank if there was a digital storefront where designers could sell their custom app icons or themes, and users could apply them in a few taps. And the lock screen customization process could use more options for fonts, colors, and just a more streamlined process. It’s incredibly annoying as you can’t simply change the lock screen without having to mess with your home screen wallpaper, for some reason.

iOS 17 should give us more customization tools, or at least make the processes to do so easier. Right now, it’s still just half-baked.

More photo tools and a better camera interface

iPhone 14 Pro and Galaxy Z Flip 4 camera apps.
Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

Every year, one of the biggest selling points for the iPhone is all of the new camera upgrades. However, on the software side, the Camera and Photos apps have largely remained the same for years; it’s about time that Apple adds some new features and makes the interface better.

One of my favorite things about Google’s Pixel devices, like the new Pixel 7, is the Magic Eraser tool. This lets you get rid of unwanted objects in the background of a photo, including small things like cables and debris, to larger objects like people. Of course, Magic Eraser has its limitations (getting rid of many people can result in ugly digital artifacts, making it look worse), but it is a fun and useful tool I would love to have on iOS. After all, we can separate a subject from the background in iOS 16, so why not do the opposite?

Other Android devices also have helpful camera and photo tools, like being able to adjust the background blur on portrait mode photos. I think it would be neat if Apple could add something similar to iOS 17, as it would open up more creative possibilities.

Using color pop feature when editing a photo on Google Pixel 7
Christine Romero-Chan / Digital Trends

On the camera side, Apple should add more capture modes. For example, the Pixel 7 has the ability to do Photo Sphere images. Sure, it may be a little gimmicky, but people can definitely get imaginative with it, and Apple is always showcasing what can be done with iPhone photography. The Pixel 7 also has Long Exposure and Action Pan for motion capture, which is another tool that Apple could and should implement in iOS 17.

While we’re on the topic of the Camera app, it’s currently not very intuitive if you want to do more than the basics. For example, it’s easy to see how to switch between Photo and Portrait and Video (and all the other modes). But do most people know you can swipe up on that ribbon to access additional controls, or just tap that arrow at the top of the screen? Swiping up will reveal other controls like Photographic Styles, aspect ratio, adjustable exposure, timer, and filters. There is also ProRAW format, flash, and Live Photos — but those are accessible from the top of the screen.

The interface right now doesn’t make it very clear how to access more camera controls, and nothing is labeled until you select it. Apple should give the Camera app interface an overhaul because, in its current state, it’s a bit of a maze.

Interactive widgets

The distance apart widget on iOS 16.
Joe Maring/Digital Trends

When Apple introduced widgets, I was pretty hyped up for them. I enjoyed how widgets worked on macOS back in the day, such as Sticky Notes, so I was hoping for the same kind of functionality with iOS widgets. Unfortunately, in the current state right now for both lock and home screen widgets, they’re nothing more than glorified app icons.

I would love to see Apple take it a step further in iOS 17 with interactive widgets. Right now, widgets are really nothing more than glanceable bits of information. Sure, that works for some people, but I’d like to see a widget where I can tap a button and it does something without taking me into the app itself. For example, the current Music widget just shows your recent listening history — what good is that? Put some audio controls and let us control playback from the widget itself.

Maybe iOS 17 can make widgets actually, you know, useful.

More options for default apps

iOS 16 Work Focus with a Fantastical widget and two rows of work-related apps
Christine Romero-Chan / Digital Trends

Along with a revamp of the home screen in iOS 14, Apple let us choose different default apps for our web browser and email. So no longer did we need to use Safari and Mail by default when opening links and sending emails.

But two years later, those are still the only types of apps that we can change the default option for. What about other app categories, like our music player, maps, or calendars?

For example, I really dislike the native Calendars app, and instead, I choose to use Fantastical. I would love to make that my default calendar app whenever I get event invitations so I don’t need to go through Calendar itself. And though I primarily use Apple Maps, others prefer Google Maps — why can’t they make that their default turn-by-turn directions app instead?

It’s been two years since Apple gave us the option to change default apps for two categories — it’s about time it expands that to more options in iOS 17.

Better notifications, please

Notifications on an iPhone with iOS 16.
Joe Maring/Digital Trends

Though Apple has made some improvements in how notifications are handled in recent updates, it’s still pretty terrible compared to Android. With Android, if you get multiple notifications from a single app, they are bundled together in a single list that you can either expand or collapse. On iOS, each notification is separate. Some apps get “grouped” together, however, it’s not as clean.

Notifications have always been a bit of a weak link on iOS, and even after 16 major iOS versions, it’s still pretty lacking. Hopefully, iOS 17 can make some much-needed improvements — heck Apple, just copy what Android does right now because it’s a huge step up.

A reimagined Control Center

Someone holding an iPhone 14. The display is turned on and showing the Control Center.
Joe Maring/Digital Trends

Control Center is one of those utilities that we may take for granted, but it’s incredibly useful. With Control Center, our most used functions are just a swipe away. But it’s long overdue for an overhaul.

As I continue to use Android, I’ve found myself liking the Quick Settings panel more and more. In fact, I wish the Control Center could be more like Android’s Quick Settings because it’s much easier to do things with it. For example, on Android, tapping the Internet panel brings up the Wi-Fi toggle, and you can quickly select another network to join. On iOS, tapping the Wi-Fi icon just turns off Wi-Fi, and it’s not very apparent that you can tap and hold to drill further into the settings, like choosing a Wi-Fi network.

There could also be more shortcuts added to Control Center. Though I like to use 5G whenever I can, sometimes T-Mobile’s 5G is worse than its own 4G LTE coverage, and I need to turn 5G off. Right now, even though you can select Wi-Fi networks from Control Center by tapping and holding, you can’t do the same with cellular data. You need to go into the Settings app, select Cellular, then pick Cellular Data Options, and choose LTE or 5G in the Voice & Data section. It’s so cumbersome! Let me toggle 5G on or off right from Control Center.

Google also added a free VPN for Pixel phones through the Google One app. When this is enabled, you can easily toggle it on or off through the Quick Settings panel. This is another control that Apple could also add too, especially for iCloud+ Private Relay.

Simplify sports into a single app

A soccer field.

Though I’m not a big sports person, I know plenty of others are. At the moment, those who follow sports may be familiar with how the News app separates sports into its own section, while Apple TV has sports scores. In its current state, following sports on iOS feels a little disjointed.

iOS 17 should bring us a standalone Apple Sports app. With a single Sports app, it could consolidate all sports news, highlights, games, scores, and more into one place. Especially since iOS 16’s Live Activities feature supports real-time sports scores, this would just be a logical next step for Apple.

iOS 17 could fix a lot of the glaring problems

The iPhone 14 Pro Max.
Joe Maring/Digital Trends

iOS 16 is still pretty fresh, but there’s a lot more that Apple could do with iOS as a whole. We can expect WWDC23 in less than a year, and hopefully, a lot of cool new things will come in iOS 17 — possibly a few of the things we mentioned here.

I still prefer iOS over Android, but there’s so much room for growth.

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