Apple should consider copying Android 12 features

“Good artists copy, great artists steal”, a favorite Steve Jobs quote, which was based on what was said by Pablo Picasso (which, according to some, was based on someone else, too). There is a faction from the iOS and also the Android camp that loves to point out how Apple and Google copy features from one another — some saying that their favorite OS did it first, as if it matters. That being said, each platform has its way of executing features, and whilst definitely one does it better than the other, it is due to the developers’ culture (and business model, perhaps) than anything else. With Google revealing the new Android 12 features last week and Apple revealing iOS 15 features next month, here’s a rundown of what I think Apple should consider copying or stealing from Android 12.

Android 12

Privacy Dashboard

Android 12’s Privacy Dashboard is a one stop shop that displays applications that accessed your location, camera and microphone, with details such as when it was accessed and how long, and the ability to toggle application access on the same page.

Apple’s iOS had a Privacy section on the Settings tool that allows users to toggle settings on a per application basis. The closest feature to the Privacy Dashboard is the Location Services’ color coded arrow icon — with a gray arrow indicating that the application accessed your location in the last 24 hours, and a purple one indicating recent use. All others don’t have that information.

If Apple will implement this, I am expecting that they will surface the location, camera and microphone, similar to Android 12, but it will include contacts, calendar, photos, reminders, health, sensors, and files. With such amount of detail, I highly doubt that Apple will take this route without risking user experience. It might probably be why Google limited it to location, camera and microphone (are others included as well? I am not sure). Adding contacts, photos and sensors, however, might be the middle ground.

If having a separate dashboard is off the table, I wish that Apple will modify the Privacy settings page and add the other setting options, such as Never/None, Ask Next Time, While Using the app, Always/All, Selected (like on Photos), on all the other data sources, as appropriate, of course. For example, I would want Signal to always access my contacts, but restricted only to a select few. We need more control on our contacts, as well, like selecting access to only the name and email address and not phone numbers, or just the name (to protect you and your users against the likes of Clubhouse!).

Camera and Mic Control Toggle

Whilst you can definitely control camera and microphone controls from within iOS Settings, Android 12 has a quick way to turn off/on camera and microphones without applications knowing that these are off. On Android 12, if the camera or microphone is turned off via these toggle, the application will access the camera or microphone, but have a black image or no audio.

On iOS, there is a shortcut toggle for WiFi, Bluetooth, etc., which can easily be accessed via the Control Center. Adding the same camera and microphone toggle will definitely be a great addition. I will probably use this often — keeping it off!

Interactive Notifications

Android 12 continues to improve on the notifications drawer. It is high time that iOS catches up and make notifications interactive.

That’s basically it. Android 12 seem to have far less new features than previous versions (other new features were from iOS), with the changes centered mostly on aesthetics, i.e., they have the new Material You design.

This close to WWDC, iOS 15 feature-set has been decided by Apple already. I am hoping that these features are already baked in. If I may choose, the last two (2) are must haves.

What do you think? What Android 12 features would you want on your iPhone?