WWDC Wish List: macOS 12

We’re less than a week away from WWDC at this point and I’m late sharing the rest of my wishes!

After a few years as an iPad-first guy, my interest in the Mac was renewed last year with the launch of Apple’s M1 chip. I’ve now moved to an M1 MacBook Air as my primary computer and couldn’t be happier. My satisfaction with the Mac extends to macOS Big Sur, which I find very stable and a delight to use.

I struggled to think of things I would like Apple to add to macOS 12 – which I predict will be named Monterey – but did come up with a short list of additions that would be nice to see next week.

The Fitness app with Apple Fitness+

As mentioned in my watchOS Wish List last week, I’m a big fan of Apple Fitness+. I use Fitness+ on my iPad Pro to work out every day, so I’d love to see the Fitness app make its way to Mac this year.

I think Fitness+ would be well suited to the new 24″ iMac in particular. Apple’s marketing the new iMac as a family computer that fits anywhere in your home and can be used for movie nights and video calls in the kitchen so why not use it as an exercise screen too? The Fitness app, with Fitness+ and all the activity features of the iPad version, should be Apple’s next system app brought to the Mac using Catalyst.

Owen Williams wrote a fantastic piece on Debugger about the ergonomics of working of home over the last year, and it makes a great case for the Fitness app to come to macOS. Those of us confined to a desk working on a computer all day need reminders to stand and stretch while we work, and the Fitness app could bring just that to every Mac including for those without an Apple Watch.

Shortcuts for Mac

Macs have long supported powerful automation by way of Automator workflows and AppleScript actions, but iOS made automation accessible to everyone with the introduction of Shortcuts. I use Shortcuts on my iPhone all the time to download photos from Instagram and videos from YouTube, or run automations that silence my devices during the workday and enable screen rotation when the YouTube app launches. I’d love to have the power of Shortcuts on my Mac too.

Shortcuts for Mac should include Mac-specific actions, for example the ability to trigger an automation by dropping files in a specific folder in Finder. I would also expect Shortcuts on Mac to integrate into the “Quick Actions” or “Services” menus so you could right-click a file or folder and run a Shortcut on that item. It would also be great to have access to Shortcuts as Safari Extensions on macOS.

If Apple does bring Shortcuts to the Mac this year I expect it will start off pretty simple, but let’s get the ball rolling at least.

The return of Front Row

Did you hear that Apple launched a new Siri Remote recently that everybody loves a lot? It’s too bad the new remote can only be used with the Apple TV, especially since there’s an Apple TV app on Macs and Apple seems keen to get more people watching their TV+ shows. If only there was a comfortable way to sit back and control the TV app on your new 24″ iMac using the awesome new Siri Remote.

There used to be! Back in the time of OS X Panther, Macs shipped with software called Front Row. Front Row was a media center UI that allowed you to browse the music, movies, TV shows, and photos on your Mac using the original white Apple Remote. The Front Row UI eventually made its way to the Apple TV set top box – the ones Apple made before the future of TV was apps.

I’m not saying Apple needs to bring back Front Row as a separate app, but the Apple TV app on macOS should be updated to support the Siri Remote for browsing and controlling video playback. The TV app could also launch in full-screen automatically when you press the TV button on the remote, the way Front Row used to. That might make the Apple TV box itself less enticing, but it’s already priced out of the market for a lot of people and given the Apple TV app has been appearing on basically every device with a screen, I’d wager Apple isn’t too worried about cannibalizing Apple TV hardware sales.

Sidecar as an iPad app

I often forget Sidecar exists – the feature that allows you to use your iPad as an external second display for your Mac. Sidecar comes in handy when you need just an extra bit of screen real-estate, but currently it’s a one-way street in that it can only be activated from a Mac. Maybe this is actually an iPadOS wish, but I’d like to see a Sidecar app on iPad that would let you view and control your Mac’s screen from anywhere.

In essence, I wish Sidecar was like having macOS as an app on your iPad. This wouldn’t be necessary if iPadOS were more capable on its own, but for those tasks that still require a Mac it would be nice to have remote access to macOS on your iPad. This can be done with third-party hardware like Luna Display but seems like a good candidate for Apple to sherlock eventually.

I’m saving the big one for lastโ€ฆ iOS 15. With only a few days to go, I’d better get back to writing. Stay tuned.

T-minus 5 days!