When your favorite consumer tech company is also the best consumer tech company in the world, and said tech company is generally a magnet for hyperbole and blind customer loyalty — while also producing more products at higher levels of quality than ever before — what’s left to really wish for?
Plenty, it turns out.
I’m not talking about a new Apple car or even any special new product category. As it turns out, I just want some simple things to work better. I’d like to see some refinements, really, small shifts in priority from Apple’s various teams. Right now, most of Apple’s products are like big glorious plate glass windows… that somehow still have a sticker attached to one outside corner. Why?
So what do I hope to see in 2016?
1. Better Apple Watch Battery Life
My Apple Watch is pretty cool and all, but you know what’s not cool? Having to charge the thing every single day. Sure, I’m resigned to the fact (and habit) of charging my iPhone every single day, but there is something different about needing to charge your Apple Watch.
What is so different? You have to take it off to charge it, which means it’s not able to do its job on your wrist. If I need to charge my iPhone, I can still use it while it’s attached to a wall or battery. Sure, that isn’t fantastic, but an Apple Watch becomes distinctly un-watch-like when you have to charge it.
2. Fix the Mac App Store
Oh boy, this is mildly annoying to me, but it’s a travesty to Mac developers around the world. There are many things broken in the Mac App Store, not the least of which is low pricing pressure, no upgrade pricing models, and decent developers choosing to avoid the Mac App Store or leave it altogether.
Famous Apple fan, analyst, and critic John Gruber even went so far as to say this month that “The Mac App Store is rotting.”
I’d like to see Mac developers clamoring to get in. Why? Mac users are about as loyal to Apple as you can get — so damn it, Apple, make their app experiences amazing.
There is some good news here, though: Apple just moved all the App Store responsibilities over to Phil Schiller, Apple’s senior vice president of worldwide marketing, which seems to be a sign that Apple recognizes the problems.
3. Better iPhone Battery Life
Come on, Apple, gives us an extra millimeter of thickness and more battery! This whole thinness fetish has a side effect, and battery life is the biggest issue. It’s just maddening.
Let’s have a show of hands: Who would opt for better battery life, even if it meant a slightly thicker and slightly heavier iPhone 6 or 6s? I’m in. Every freaking time. Surprise us with the iPhone 7, please Apple. Please?
4. Make an Apple Smart Battery Case
No, no, no! Apple gave us one of these, but who was clamoring for such an Apple-made battery case? Me, I actually like battery cases for when I have to go off the power grid, especially far outdoors, but the Apple Smart Battery Case is more expensive and offers less recharge power than the competition — and it’s not waterproof or particularly rugged.
So I have a compromise request on this one: Make sure that third-party Apple Lightning device licensing requirements are so inexpensive that third-party battery case manufacturers can produce competitive battery cases that also use Lightning ports for case charging rather than micro USB cables. Like I need to pack around more than one cable.
5. Get Us 48-Hour iTunes Movie Rental Periods
We’re heading into 2016, and for some reason, we are still saddled with 24-hour limits on iTunes movie playback periods. This means if you start a movie one night after work, but get interrupted with say, life, you’ll have to find the time within 24 hours to finish it. Either the DRM WORKS or it doesn’t. Why punish your customers with arbitrary limits on protected content? It’s all just so stupid.
I’m sure some of it is tied up with rights management from the content producers, but Apple apparently doesn’t care enough to make it an issue and get it fixed. No wonder people think trotting out to a Redbox is smarter than using iTunes.
Bonus: While we’re talking about iTunes movie rentals on our iPhones, why can’t we have a 10-second skip ahead or skip back button? Those little virtual buttons are in all sorts of other video playback apps and services, but not Apple’s. Why not? Why? Is it a patent issue? If it is, just buy the whole company that owns the patents. What’s more annoying than missing a bit of dialogue? Rewinding too far back and then trying to return to your spot in a video.
6. Add a Retina Screen to the MacBook Air
The single-port MacBook is ahead of its time, and the super thin keyboard is lackluster. What do many Mac consumers really want? A MacBook Air with a Retina screen. If Apple released such a Mac at a reasonable price point, it would sell extremely well. I have no doubt about that.
Great balance of size with features… but I seriously doubt Apple will do it. Pity. Second best option? Admit that the MacBook keyboard is subpar, Apple. Remember that humans like how things feel, and get it right in version two.
7. Better Password Management on the Apple TV
The on-screen keyboard sucks, particularly for entering in even basically strong passwords with fancypants Siri Remote. Really not sure how this one got past usability testing.
It sure would be nice if there were a short PIN that could be used, so you didn’t have to enter your iTunes password on the screen — like, in front of a pack of teenagers — just to rent a movie.
We don’t need insane security inside of our homes, but we could use some simple security around guests and small children.
8. Produce an Apple 5K Monitor
Or even a 4K version. An Apple-branded monitor probably would be too expensive for the likes of me, but geez, part of being an Apple fan is lusting after something you just can’t afford. Ultimately, I’m surprised Apple hasn’t bothered to translate its iMac acumen into a sweet external monitor.
Better yet, my wish would be that Apple would build one that’s price competitive (like the sweet value of the Retina iMacs), and surprise the hell out of everyone.
9. Stream NFL Thursday Night Football
Word on the street says the NFL is soliciting bids to stream NFL Thursday Night Football from Apple and other tech companies. I sure hope Apple takes this seriously and makes it happen.
This kind of “TV” solution would be perfect for casual fans who are unwilling to spend hundreds on cable and satellite packages.
10. Make Everything Just Work Better
This one comes from Brent Simmons who described an irritating Mail bug that affected his dad, ultimately leading to this:
“What I’m hoping for — what I’m nearly begging for, more as a user than as developer — is that Apple spend a year making things better. Nothing new. Just make things work better.”
When I read that, I must admit, the sentiment resonated.
All-in-all, what’s the big takeaway here? I just want refinements in my Apple experience in 2016. I don’t need any new gadgets.
Oh, wait, I do have one more wish: I hope Tim Cook stands strong over privacy and encryption. As terror spreads, we all need to remember that creating digital leashes for everyone to wear is not the only answer. Freedom and privacy are key.