Earlier this week, we shared the first part of our iOS 16 concept and explained why we were publishing these ideas so far in advance, especially with the first iOS 15 beta just dropping. That first piece focused on changes to system components, while this piece focuses on individual apps and ties the two together. We looked at a few of Apple’s built-in apps that we believe could use some additional love, as well as ways for Apple to go after some of its biggest competitors.

The first part of this concept included updates to widgets on the Home Screen, a new icon for App Library on the iPhone, new focus toggles on the Lock Screen, and enhancements to AirPlay and Handoff.

Here, we’ll go through what we’d like to see in apps like Photos, Music, and Maps, as well as tools like Calculator, Clock, and Watch. We also spent some time thinking about innovative ways to build upon the work that Apple is doing with Siri.

Apple’s own Instagram

It’s clear that Apple is trying to reposition iOS as an ambient social platform with many of the changes being made in iOS 15. Several of them appear to be targeting Facebook head-on. This isn’t even including the privacy changes that undoubtedly affect the way Facebook does business. We’d love to see Apple create a feed in the Photos app that consolidates all of the photos, memories, albums, and more that your friends and family share with you in real time.

A new “Shared” tab in the center of the bottom bar could show you an Instagram-like real-time feed of all the photos your friends and family share with you. You could even create a profile, similar to the one you have in Messages, directly in Photos. The design of the feed and albums on profiles could adopt the same new stack style introduced in the Messages in iOS 15 for a slick and unique look.

In the profile view, you could see all of a friend’s photos, memories, videos, and more organized in a simple and recognizable interface. In the feed, you could leave a comment or share that photo with another friend.

Cover flow’s triumphant return

We all really miss cover flow. More than anything, the Music app needs a landscape mode. We haven’t had one in more than five years. With the introduction of the new spatial audio and lossless tracks, Apple wants users to spend more time simply enjoying their music. Cover flow was the perfect way to do that back in the day.

Apple could bring back the classic landscape cover flow design last seen in iOS 6 — of course, with some flatter, more modern tweaks. The albums could be flanked by a button on either side, with the left side letting you toggle between cover flow and a simpler grid view, while the right side would let you sort your albums by recently added, play count, and alphabetical.

When tapping on an album, instead of flipping over in a skeuomorphic way, it could grow and blur. The track list would get layered right on top and offer buttons for shuffle and play, as well as the context buttons you’d see in an album in portrait mode.

‘Order with Apple’ in Maps + Siri

This is a big one, and it would require a fairly big effort by many teams. We’d love for Apple to create a new API for food ordering apps and a new service called “Order with Apple.” You could order food directly in the Maps app, but better yet, you could ask Siri to order food for you.

Siri would display menus and have a new bag button to the right of the orb at the bottom of the screen. It could keep track of all the items you want to order and let you do so right there with Apple Pay. This could theoretically work with any shopping service that would want to integrate product pick up or delivery.

Calculator gains history

Apple’s built-in calculator has stayed virtually the same for the past decade. It’s gotten new coats of paint a few times but nothing really new from a functional standpoint. We’d love to see Apple add a new history function to Calculator so that you can see past equations and results.

In the top left, you’d just tap on the history icon, and a modal would slide up with tape of your math history. You’d be able to see the date and time you did an equation and clear the entire tape of all of your previous work.

In addition to the history view, you’d be able to see the equation above the larger answer. There’d also be a simple undo button for folks who still haven’t discovered the back gesture. In the top right, we’d love for Apple to add a new share button to make it easy to send answers and equations to friends and family.

Clock gets multiple timers and a new UI

The timer in Clock needs more work than anything else in the app. First and foremost, we need multiple timers on the iPhone, and we need a fresh user interface for it. In real time, you can see all active timers and stop them on the fly. Below the active timers, you can see all of your recent timers, just like on Apple Watch.

In the bottom row, you could save timers you frequently use to a new “favorite timers” section. With all of these changes, you could set and change timers on the fly. In the top right, you can see a plus button that would bring up the old scroll wheel picker interface to set a new timer.

Watch faces + band discovery

The Watch app on iPhone could use some better discovery features for watch faces. It starts with a redesigned face gallery that lets you browse faces by category, color, and edition and lets you see faces your friends have shared with you. Below the different sort options, there are curated categories by use case, like fitness and business.

You might have noticed a new tab in the bottom bar. Just tap on the new watch bands tab to see all of the bands available at the Apple Store. You’ll see what’s new first, as well as bands created specifically for your particular watch material finish.

You could also store a list of all the bands you have purchased. The app could bring them in automatically based on your Apple Store purchase history too. Apple could also suggest watch faces that go nicely with a particular band in your collection.

Conclusion

This just scratches the surface of some of the changes Apple could make to apps customers use frequently. You might notice throughout the concept some tweaks I didn’t mention. You can read the entire “release notes” below to see everything from part 1 and part 2 of this iOS 16 concept. Let us know what you think and what features you might want to see next year in the comments below.

“Release Notes”

  • Home Screen
    • Add more powerful interactive widgets to your home screen
      • Includes Home app and Voice Memos widgets
      • New Health widget tracks individual metrics
      • New Wallet widget lets you keep track of your Apple Card balance
    • App Library can be added to any home screen
      • Place an icon for App Library in the dock
      • Access App Library from any page
  • Focuses
    • Quickly change between focuses right from the lock screen
      • Press and slide your finger up and down the list to change focus
      • Enable do not disturb more quickly with a gesture
    • Wallpaper can change with focuses
      • Set wallpapers to change when enabling a focus
  • Siri
    • Use Handoff and AirPlay with Siri
      • Ask Siri to put content you’re viewing on iPhone on a TV, Mac, or speaker
      • Apps that do not support the new API will still work with AirPlay mirroring
    • Shop and order food with Siri
      • Ask Siri to order food from a restaurant and it will provide a menu
      • New shopping button saves your orders for later
      • “Order with Apple” integrates with apps like Grubhub and Uber Eats
    • View history of Siri requests
      • Tap the history button to see a list of all your most recent Siri queries
      • View stacks of previously used Siri information cards
  • Maps
    • Place orders from participating restaurants and stores
      • Integration with apps like Grubhub and Uber Eats makes it easy to order food and more
      • See menus right in the Maps app without going to the web
  • Photos
    • Share your photos with friends and families in the new feed
      • Post memories, albums, photos, videos, and more for friends and family to see
      • View the feed using the new “Shared” tab in the Photos app
      • Comment on photos and share them
      • Tap a profile to see all photos shared by that person
    • Create a profile and connect with your friends
      • See all shared memories, photos, albums, and more
      • Set a profile photo or use your Memoji from Messages
  • Music
    • Turn your iPhone into landscape mode for new view styles
      • Cover flow returns to iPhone alongside a new grid view
      • Sort albums by recently added, alphabetical order, and play count
      • Works in dark and light modes
  • Sounds
    • All new “Sounds” app lets you relax with background sounds
      • Play sounds like stream, rain, and dark noise
      • Enable listening in the background with other content
      • Swipe between sounds on the fly
      • Set a sleep timer for use at nighttime
      • Save your favorite sounds locally to your iPhone
    • Spatial audio comes to background sounds
      • New recordings immerse you in other locations
      • Head tracking lets sounds move with you
  • Calculator
    • View your calculation history with a tap
      • Tap the new history button to see previous calculations
      • See when you made a calculation
      • Clear your calculation history
    • Quickly share numbers with contacts
      • New share button makes it easier than ever to share the result of a calculation
    • Equations are always visible
      • Now you won’t just see an answer, but also the equation
      • Quickly tap to undo a calculation
  • Clock
    • Completely redesigned timer interface
      • Organized by active, recent, and favorites
      • See your recently used timers
      • Save frequently used timers to favorites
    • Set multiple timers at once
      • See the status of multiple timers
      • Choose to stop individual timers
      • Add a new timer with a tap of the button in the top right
  • Watch
    • Completely redesigned face gallery
      • Organized by category, color, edition, and shared
      • See faces your friends use and share with you
      • Find faces in collections organized by use
    • New bands tab makes it easy to discover new styles
      • See bands designed specifically for your model of Apple Watch
      • Shop new bands at the Apple Store
      • Save a collection of the bands you own
      • Get suggested faces for corresponding bands
    • Light mode is now enabled in Watch
      • When your iPhone is in light mode, the app now reflects the proper design

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Concept Part 2: How iOS 16 should improve apps like Photos, Music, Watch, Clock, Calculator, and more
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