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Apple iPhone 3G pic by Óscarq via Flickr)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.

Chris Lake

Published 30 January, 2009 by Chris Lake

Chris Lake is CEO at EmpiricalProof, and former Director of Content at Econsultancy. Follow him on Twitter, Google+ or connect via Linkedin.

582 more posts from this author

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David

Its actually 20 ways because three of your list are already done!  7: The iTunes Store is already available for purchasing songs!  11:  Force Quit by holding the home button down.  14:  Caps Lock is done by double-clicking the "shift" key.

almost 8 years ago

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Jesus Sanchez

I agree on some of the improvements like the multitasking and flash support (only if it can be dissabled). Most of your suggested improvements are already available on the current firmware or using third party soft or hardware.

Have you tried holding down buttons?

11. Force quit: Hold down home button and app will force quit

14. Obvious CAPS LOCK: Hold down shift key

15. Trash app: Hold down app icon until icons wiggle then touch the X to uninstall (you can also rearange your apps)... home will stop icons wiggle

16. Volume rules: Enable Sound Check in iTunes to normalize songs volume

almost 8 years ago

Richard Hartigan

Richard Hartigan, Industry Manager at Google

Hi Chris,

I too love the iPhone.

I can help you out with some of these points and raise some of my own if I may! Please note, I have no insider knowledge!

1. MMS Photo Messaging is an App that is now available for free. I haven't got it though so can't say how it works.

5. Apple have just released their own in-ear headphones that come with a remote for volume / fast forward / rewind and microphone. These should be standard in the next version.

7. iTunes store integration is available if you can access a Wifi Network. It would be good via 3G but download times would be restricted.

18. Google Reader is part of the Google suite of Apps.

20. GTalk is a downloadable App but granted, it's not great.

Now for my part, I would like to see:

24. Landscape Emails & Texts. We all know it is easier to type when landscape. It allows us to do it within Safari so why not where we spend most of the time writing.

25. The ability to forward a text.

26. The ability to send a business card/contact.

27. There are apps that allow you to stream radio signals but why is this not standard? DAB would be lovely.

28. I think everyone would agree that the Google Maps function could be improved if you want to use it as a SatNav equivalent.

29. The BBC iPlayer works very well but the other channels should crack on in this area so we can watch TV on the iPod as well. Not really up to Apple this one.

30. It would be great if we didn't have to pay £20 for a stand and another £20 for a mains charger.

almost 8 years ago

Chris Lake

Chris Lake, CEO at Empirical Proof

Thanks guys - brilliant. I knew that half of what I wrote would probably be available via an app, or was already a feature that I (stupidly) hadn't found yet. 

11. The force quit button didn't work last time an app crashed (Flickup). I held it down for about a minute... had to turn the phone off in the end. Maybe a one-off...

14. CAPS LOCK. Ace, thanks! Now I can shout more easily in text messages. Obviously no good for 

15. Trash app. Works like a dream. I'd seen the 'x' while in jiggle mode but didn't put two and two together. Doh!

Will check out the apps over the weekend.

PS - my mains charger never worked... the bastards owe me £20!

Cheers,

c.

almost 8 years ago

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joe

My wish list

1. Allow flash

2.  Better battery life

3.  Allow apps to run in background so developers can make better alarm clocks (Sleep.FM ) that wake and tell you to go back to sleep!

4.  With background apps a Skype client can be made - at least for WiFi

5.  With background apps all around better instant messaging apps can be made (aim, gtalk, etc)

Well we all can wish for better battery life and background processes and it is stifling innovation.  Hopefully soon!

almost 8 years ago

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Rachel

In reply to #2: try http://audiko.net/

almost 8 years ago

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Alicia

Nice post Chris. I've only had the iPhone for about a week so I'm still learning. But lots on your list are not priorities for me. I turn off the dictionary e.g. and don't miss texting pictures.

But there are already custom ringtones thanks to Garageband. I made my own with Chemical Brothers' songs. A song per friend :-)

almost 8 years ago

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Ben

Hey for pause/play and fast forward, the standard iphone headphones have a button on them that allows for this -little known fact. The microphone is an actual button and when pressed once- pauses music, pressed again it plays music. When pressed twice simultaneously it fast fowards through a song/ and when pressed three times it goes back to the previous song.  Hope this helps

almost 8 years ago

Chris Lake

Chris Lake, CEO at Empirical Proof

@Ben - that's fantastic and another real eye-opener. My iPhone headphones are on the way out (a major volume-related issue last week bust them up) but I'll replace them. Brilliant :  )

almost 8 years ago

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Ben B

Not quite sure the Force Quit works as it should. I've been at the point where I've started to prey that the app would turn off.

I'd add a proper Bluetooth - the current one is so locked down it's hardly worth the effort.

And I'd take the new 'upload images to Facebook/Flickr' feature from iLife 09 and add it to the iPhone - I know the Facebook App does this in a different way - but it's a bit cluncky.

almost 8 years ago

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Anon

Undo - I accidentally deleted 2 words (a which turned out to be a whole line) from my notes which which I was using for a 'to do' list, and couldn't for the life of me remember what the deleted item was.  No doubt my wife will remind me when I've failed to do it...!!

almost 8 years ago

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CStar

I swore blind I'd never get a blackberry type device and now can't remeber how I survived without my iPhone.

Further requirements:

Some form of stylus device for those of us with fat fingers.

A Radio app that allows me to listen to BBC radio stations.  Can't find one anywhere and can't get BBC i-player to work properly either.

almost 8 years ago

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Boo

Great info - thanks. Bought iPhone a week ago - and on the web as I try to work out - how to forward
(1) texts
(2) Business cards
(3) pictures
Are there any solutions that a non tecky can understand.. expecially number (1) - texts!

Do I keep this phone or exchange it quick to another - like the blackberry storm??

almost 8 years ago

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