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I purchased two things last year that have improved my world considerably.
The first purchase was the Roland Juno, a synthesiser that is pound for pound the best value for money of anything I’ve ever bought. It is tremendous fun and all manner of synthy noises and weird Devo-esque sounds. It even has a cowbell. I can’t really play it, but I have a lot of fun trying.
The second thing was the delightful Apple iPhone. As you probably know, it is pretty much the best thing since sliced bread. For anybody who runs websites for a living it is a must-have. I’ve been sleeping more soundly since I bought it...
However, as with most things, there is scope for improvement.
Before I bought the iPhone I knew all about it, or at least I thought I did. I knew it would help me keep on top of things. And I assumed it would have the basics in place, such as picture messaging (amazingly, it doesn’t). Whizz bang it may be, but the doubters are quick to pick up on these oversights: "But even my old Nokia from 2002 does picture messaging! Ha ha!"
Of course the joy of the iPhone is that you can customise it via the App Store. Upgrading your phone has never been so easy, and a lot of the time the apps available are free, so it’s going to hurt your wallet either.
But some apps are limited by the hardware. For example, there are a few apps that turn your iPhone into a Dictaphone, which works a treat. Unless you’re on a call, that is. I’d like to be able to record phone calls when conducting interviews, or speaking to annoying call centre people, for that matter.
So here is a braindump of features that I’d love to see on the next iPhone, which I’ll be buying about a year from now. I’m sure that some of these suggestions can be fixed via iPhone updates. And others are probably already there and I'm being ignorant (by all means tell me!).
In any case: go Apple, go!
1. Picture messaging. Honestly, I don’t use it very often, but this is an oversight. I wonder if there a strategic reason for it? Twitpic is ok but logging into O2’s private picture library to view incoming picture messages is rubbish.
2. Custom ringtones. I hate lame ringtones. In fact I normally have my phone pretty much set to silent / vibrate. But I want to be able to record something and turn it into a ringtone. The iPhone needs better custom ringtone support for me to be able to easily do this.
3. Copy and paste. Dammit, this is a basic feature that any smartphone should have. Everybody I know that owns an iPhone wants to see this, because from time to time it's kinda useful.
4. Video recording. Personally this is filed under ‘nice to have’ and isn't a dealbreaker, but I've had video on all my mobiles for most of this decade, so it feels like a backwards step. It is for those times when you’re walking down the street and see a squirrel beating on a pigeon. We have a duty to Digg, if nothing else...
5. Physical iPod controls. I’d like one fast-forward button and maybe a pause/play button, that’s it. You know, for when the phone is in your pocket, the iPod is on shuffle, and something terrible or terrifying comes on…
6. iPod alarm clock. An old friend of mine used to wake up every day to Black Flag, as did I when I once crashed out in his spare room. It was a foolproof strategy. Waking up to music beats ringtones or those godforsaken alarm noises. Bring the noise, Apple!
7. iTunes Store integration. If I’m allowed to buy / download songs from the iTunes Store via my handset then I will guarantee Apple (and the record labels) more money. [Update: I'm a dumbass. This clearly works in a WiFi zone]
8. Flash support. I’m known for my perennial loathing of Flash, so this may come as a surprise. I hate Flash not because of the technology per se but because of the shyster ‘web’ designers that use Flash to bastardise user experiences. They’re all overpaid, underdeveloped idiots. Nevertheless, there is a lot of Flash on the internet and even sites rooted in HTML can have useful Flash elements. As such the iPhone needs to support it. Ditto Java.
9. Rotate apps, especially maps. Because some things look better when viewed in ‘landscape’ mode. Surely this feature should be consistent across the phone?
10. Multiple email signatures. I’ve seen this requested by other people and it makes a lot of sense, for people who need to wear multiple hats.
11. Force Quit. For those times when apps freeze up, when the 'home' button doesn't work. Turning the phone off is the obvious way of doing this, but the thing I like about Macs is the ‘Force Quit’ feature, so why not bring this to the iPhone?
12. Customisable keyboard. It works pretty well as is, but I’d love to have the option of adding a few punctuation keys to the default keyboard. The keyboard could rotate too.
13. Customisable dictionary. Or at least a self-learning one. At any rate, please stop turning ‘dickweed’ into ‘duckweed’.
14. Obvious CAPS LOCK. I know it’s in there somewhere, but how about simply adding a third cycle when toggling the Shift key? [Update: this works by holding it down with the left thumb while typing]
15. Trash app. I should probably sync the iPhone more than I do, but sometimes when an app fails I want to trash it immediately, directly within the handset (Twitterific refuses to work for me, despite an update and perseverance). Other apps are used once or twice, and that’s it. The icons clutter the screen, and this is the sort of thing that train journeys are made for. [Update: I totally missed this, but it's there - aim for the 'x' next to the app icon when in 'jiggle mode']
16. Volume rules. I just broke my headphones by accident, due to severe and unexpected noise that almost perforated my eardums. Cue loud swearing on public transport. I’d like some more controls over the volume, and also to standardise playback volume across all apps (iPod, YouTube, Last.fm, etc).
17. Improved document support. Accessing, editing and saving Word / Excel / PDF docs. I know that might require a phone call to Ballmer, but still… also, a file repository would be a useful thing.
18. Inbuilt feed reader. Maybe I’m missing something here, but surely this is a must-have for the iPhone?
19. Wireless syncing. I have a very fast WiFi. Surely it’s quick enough for me to be able to hook up with my Macbook without the need for wires?
20. Instant messaging. Gchat happens to be my preference…
21. Timestamp on *all* text messages.
22. Foolproof dialling. I accidentally start calling people several times a week just by browsing contacts, or recent call lists. Mostly I spot it and hang up quickly, but this is a function that could be improved. Sometimes two clicks beat one.
23. Multitasking. Closing apps to do other things sometimes seems a bit, you know... wrong. In the words of a website I’ve just found - and am about to start reading - called pleasefixtheiphone.com: "Let at least one application run in background by holding down the home button for 5 seconds (10 seconds for killing the application). Flashing icon in statusbar will remember user about reduced battery lifetime."
So given that there's a whole website dedicated to this, that’s my lot. I’d have probably called that website pleaseimprovetheiphone.com, since it is a wondrous bit of kit that does most things extremely well. I for one can't wait for Apple to further develop it.