Apple, iOS 17 Should Steal These Android 14 Features
Commentary: Apple's next iPhone OS is expected to be unveiled Monday at WWDC.
Zachary McAuliffeStaff writer
Zach began writing for CNET in November, 2021 after writing for a broadcast news station in his hometown, Cincinnati, for five years. You can usually find him reading and drinking coffee or watching a TV series with his wife and their dog.
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In the US, iPhones recently wrestled the crown away from Androids as the most popular smartphone system, but this comes after more than a decade of Android dominance. And Android reigns in the global market, often by wide margins. In South America, for example, Android represents about 88% of all smartphones, and iPhones trail with about 11%, according to the IT site SOS Support.
But for as long as Apple and Google have been fighting like Godzilla and King Kong for smartphone market superiority, they've also seemingly been stealing ideas from each other. For example, notification badges debuted on iPhones, and Androids had home screen widgets long before iPhones, as Popular Science notes.
That back-and-forth continued with Android 14, as Android phones seemingly copied iPhones again with an updated Find My Device feature and added unknown tracker alerts. We don't know what Apple has in store for iOS 17, but we think the company should incorporate some of the new Android features into the software.
Here are the new Android features I think Apple should include in iOS 17.
More lock screen customization options
Lock screen customization was one of the most substantial updates to land on iPhones when iOS 16 was released in September 2022. With iOS 17, I want to see Apple give iPhone users more customization options, like Google is doing with Android 14.
Android 14 will let users change the size and design of their lock screen's clock -- in addition to its font type and color -- and the software lets users add shortcuts to their lock screen. Changing your lock screen clock is nice -- you can already change the font and color of your iPhone's lock screen clock -- but I'd really like to see Apple add the ability to edit or add to the shortcuts on the lock screen.
I regularly use the flashlight shortcut, but I back-tap my iPhone to pull up the camera, so the camera shortcut doesn't get used as much. Being able to change that shortcut to my Wallet app, or a search shortcut, would be great in iOS 17.
It would also be nice if Apple added more widget spaces to the iPhone's lock screen. With iOS 16, your iPhone has four grid spaces for widgets, and some widgets, like the Weather widget, take up two of those. It would be great if iOS 17 gave you at least four more grid spaces for widgets, giving you more ways to access your favorite apps.
Android 14 will use artificial intelligence to let users create custom wallpapers. People will prompt their phone, which will use AI to generate a few wallpaper options. It would be great to see Apple roll out AI-generated wallpapers in iOS 17, but I'm not getting my hopes up.
While other companies have begun developing their own AI tools, Apple hasn't made any public announcements about developing, or partnering with another company to produce, such tools.
"I do think it's very important to be deliberate and thoughtful in how you approach these things," Apple's CEO Tim Cook said when asked about generative AI on the company's earnings call.
It's possible Apple will introduce more AI tools and functions in iOS 17, like AI-generated wallpapers, but I wouldn't expect it. I'd bet Apple will integrate AI tools into functions most people already use, like Siri, first.
More emoji wallpaper customization options
Google announced at its I/O 2023 event that certain Pixel phones will let you create custom wallpapers using emojis, but this isn't exclusive to Android 14. Users will be able to choose up to 14 emoji, the color of the background and the layout the emoji are set in. But Apple already brought this feature to iPhones.
To create a custom emoji wallpaper on your iPhone, go to Settings > Wallpaper > + Add New Wallpaper, and under the Emoji section are some premade emoji wallpapers. Tap any of these and you can edit what emoji are used, the layout and the color of the background. However, you can select only up to six emoji.
It would be fun if Apple allowed you to use more emoji and gave you more than six layout options in iOS 17 to further customize these wallpapers.
Also not exclusive to Android 14, certain Pixel phones will let Android users create cinematic wallpapers. This feature will allow people to take a photo and give certain elements of the photo a depth effect. Once you've applied the effect, you can shift your Android device around and the wallpaper elements will shift around as well, making your wallpaper look three dimensional.
Apple introduced a similar lock screen feature in iOS 7, and this feature morphed into Perspective Zoom in some iOS 16 betas. However, the feature is no longer available in recent iOS 16 updates. Apple does let you apply a depth effect to your lock screen, but that just places your clock behind certain wallpaper elements. Enabling this also disables your lock screen widgets.
Cinematic wallpapers on your iPhone would be a nice touch to include in iOS 17, and they'd make some wallpapers on your home and lock screen really stand out. And if Apple doesn't allow cinematic wallpapers in iOS 17, it would be great if the company at least allowed widgets to work on your lock screen when your depth effect was turned on.