Seeing as WWDC 2017 is set to begin in only a couple of days, I might as well join with so many other tech bloggers and add my own predictions! I agree with many of what I’ve seen already, so I’m not going to bother repeating those ideas. However, I have a couple of thoughts which I haven’t seen anywhere else yet. So here we go!
iOS 11 iPad Slide Over / Split Screen App Switcher
It seems that people have been complaining about the iPad Slide Over / Split Screen app switcher ever since it was released a couple of years ago. We hoped that it would get a redesign last year, but like most things on the iPad, there wasn’t much in the way of updates for it. However, if some of the rumours this year are to be believed, iOS 11 on the iPad might have much more of a significant makeover. The app switcher is, in my opinion, one of the parts of the iPad software that need to be updated in a big way! It’s next to impossible to find the app that you want on the list quickly. Apparently, the three apps that you see when you first slide open the switcher are the most recently opened apps, or something like that. But if you want something other than those, there is no easy way or quick way to find them beyond just scrolling through the list. And if you have a lot of apps that support multitasking, this list can be quite a headache to scroll through.
So here’s my idea for the redesigned app switcher and iOS 11 on the iPad. It stems from the idea that when some apps run in Split View on the iPad, they don’t necessarily display a shrunken regular iPad view of the app, but rather they show a view that would appear on an iPhone. Take Messages or Mail for example. When you open Split View or Slide Over, the view of the app that you see looks almost exactly like what you would see on an iPhone. You don’t just see a smaller version of what you would normally see in a full-screen iPad app. With this in mind, my prediction for the Split Screen app switcher redesign is that when you slide open the switcher, you are presented with an iPhone-like display of your home screen rather than a scrolling carousel of app icons, as it is now on iOS 10. This mini home screen would behave similarly to how your regular iPhone homescreen behaves. For example, you could swipe to the side to go to your next page of apps, or pull down to reveal the search bar. If either one of those two gestures is applied, then you would have a much easier finding apps in the app switcher! Both are familiar gestures, and if you don’t know exactly where to look to find your app, a search bar is a swipe away!
Along with the talk of Apple getting into augmented reality, AR, there is also some discussion about using more biometric data to verify you as your device’s owner. Current iPhones and iPads do this with the Touch ID sensor, built into the home button. But there is some talk of a future device using the FaceTime camera either as a retina scanner or, more likely, for facial recognition. It remains to be seen if these would be as successful as Touch ID has been so far, but maybe using them as a secondary verification rather than a primary would be a better idea. It seems to me that it would be quite a bit easier to spoof a face than to spoof a fingerprint!
Regardless of this, a camera that is adept as facial recognition would be very useful! What I would propose is that for every unlock attempt that is made on your device, the camera would instantly capture a photo of the person using it. If it’s you, and the device recognizes you already, then the photo doesn’t need to be saved and the unlock proceeds normally. However, in the case of a theft, if an unknown person tries to unlock the phone and it fails, the camera would capture that image and add it to your photo library, at which point it would be uploaded to iCloud. A warning message could then be triggered that would go to all of your other devices that an attempt has been made to unlock one of them, provide you with location data (like you get now if trying to access your account from an unknown location), and also provide you with a photo of the person. Photo evidence of an attempt at unlocking a stolen device! I really hope this comes true. Heck, you don’t even need a future iPhone with a new camera to do this! Just make this a security feature of iOS 11!