Apple’s 2023 World Wide Developer’s Conference is less than a week away. Collectively, during this time, the tech world pauses to gaze at the new hardware and software Apple will unveil at its upcoming WWDC Keynote. This year, the buzz seems to be surrounding a possible introduction of an Apple virtual reality headset.
I admit, I’m curious about such a device, and what its introduction portends. But, as a long-time Apple user, you’ll have to excuse me for being a bit… jaded.
I work with Apple products day in and day out, and have done so for the better part of 36 years. And while there are many things that I enjoy within the Apple ecosystem, I’m a bit disenchanted with how Apple’s treating my favorite operating system: macOS.
Let me be clear: from a hardware standpoint, Apple has made some terrific strides with the Mac. I believe that the current hardware line-up is stronger than ever, thanks in large part, to Apple Silicon. Apple wants us to know that they care about the Mac, and I believe that they do.
But with all the furor and fanfare over Apple’s hardware, the last few iterations of macOS have left me feeling a bit… underwhelmed.
For me, it started with the disastrous move to macOS Catalina, which was chock full of issues on release. There were numerous issues I faced with my 2018 Mac mini and eGPU that didn’t get fully resolved until late in Catalina’s update cycle. And to add insult to injury, other issues (including freezes and random errors) persisted until I was forced to wipe the Mac’s drive and start fresh with macOS Ventura.
And speaking of macOS Ventura, it, too, has been incredibly buggy from launch. (Yes, I know. All software has bugs.) But basic functionality that used to work in previous iterations (such as SMB file-sharing on local area devices) remained broken until macOS 13.3. Currently, on both my Intel 2018 Mac mini and my 14″ M1 MacBook Pro, the Photo screensaver no longer properly spans across a multi-display setup. Incidentally, this feature worked without a hitch until macOS 13.3.
Stage Manager is still very kludgy―and feels like a feature that was released too early. I have made several attempts to integrate it into my workflow, only to get frustrated with its quirky behavior. And macOS Ventura’s System Settings panel has taken several steps backward in terms of interface design. And let’s not even talk about the Finder column width bug, which goes all the way back to OS X 10.9. (Still not fixed, inexplicably.) And some of the truly useful features, like Universal Control and AirDrop, tend to be finicky, working when they feel like it. (Universal Control sometimes works, and when it doesn’t – it’s not obvious how to fix it.)
Let’s be clear: what I really and truly wish for the next iteration of macOS is a new found-focus on stability, polish and bug fixes. A Snow Leopard-type release would be welcome. But, let’s be real: Apple is most certainly not going to waste the public’s time with bug fixes, right?
It’s all but a given that Apple will announce new “tent-pole” features in the next iteration of macOS. Let’s take a look a few quality-of-life features I would actually welcome and use in the forthcoming macOS 14.0 release:
- a more intuitive and logically arranged System Settings app, with the ability to increase the width and height of the Settings window to accomodate the larger display sizes found on a Mac. I don’t mind the iOS look, but I do mind the self-imposed limitations that come with it. Chief among my irritation is that I have to search for items in System Settings, because they are not located where I think they should be located.
- the ability to customize the Mac’s lock screen with widgets, along the lines of iOS. This could prove to be a very useful feature for displaying information that changes over time (the weather, sports scores, flight arrivals, etc.)
- widgets on the Desktop or, put another way, Dashboard on the Desktop.
- extricate passwords from the Settings app and provide users with a stand-alone Passwords app for easier password management.
- improved window management, with an emphasis on intuitive window tiling options. Building on that request, I would like the ability to create custom Window Sets, which consist of specific window size configurations for a given Focus mode. For example: If I’m in Work Mode, I’d like to have my apps and windows arranged in a specific tiled arrangement. Multi-display support of this would be amazing.
- A Siri overhaul, with an improved parser and faster response. I can see harnessing a Chat-GPT like functionality for a much more powerful (and useful) search.
- The ability to theme or customize the macOS UI. Let’s make using a Mac more fun, by golly. Apple should take a page from Linux and Windows, which both allow UI modification for a highly personalized user experience.
- The ability to identify, customize and re-name AirDrop-enabled devices. My iPad Mini (6th gen) and iPad Pro (2015) both appear as Airdrop locations, with the moniker “iPad”, despite each device having a specific name assigned (via Settings > General > Name). Icons that represent my Macs show a generic user icon, with no easy method to change it. There has to be a better method to differentiate devices than the current implementation, and I hope Apple does something about it.
And while I’m still in “wish mode”, I would also like Apple to develop a clear, transparent method for sharing and monitoring the status of reported bugs. As a user or developer, it’s easy to open up a new bug report, but there’s no affordance for tracking a bug’s status once it’s been filed. Put another way, submitting a bug to Apple right now is like putting a piece of paper into a black box. Having an accessible, trackable bug list would inform users of issues that are present and (hopefully) hold Apple accountable to making the necessary fixes.
For me, the bigger issue is that Apple tends to use each incremental update of its OS to primarily fix bugs and add security updates. I would like to see more iteration occur on the tent-pole features as the OS matures. Stage Manager hasn’t really improved much since its debut last year. It seems baffling to have to wait a whole year for a new OS version to see whether an existing feature will be improved upon or not. A monthly update that includes iterative fixes for such features would be greatly welcomed.
So, there you have it. What features / improvements would you most like to see in macOS 14.0? Let me know in the comments below.