iPhone OS: 25 Things It Really Needs (Even Now)

When Apple started inviting journalists to a press event this Thursday to discuss the future of the iPhone OS, I made a mental note to publish a list of features I’d like to see. Then I remembered: I already composed a wish list back in June of last year, on the day iPhone OS 3.0 was released. It’s not precisely the inventory of desires I’d come up with today, after spending many months with an iPhone 3GS and trying out competitors such as the Droid. And if I were asking for new iPhone OS features today, I’d be just as likely to request ones that were iPad-related.

Overall, though, my iPhone OS requests from last June are a lot like the ones I still have. So (after the jump) here’s my original story, with “2010 thoughts” embedded where appropriate. After Thursday’s news, I’ll take a look at how closely Apple’s list of Necessary iPhone OS Improvements mirrored mine.

What would you like to see in iPhone OS 4.0 and beyond?

iPhone OS: 25 Things It Really Needs (Even Now)

I’m not sure how operating-system version numbers translate into human years, but this I know: 3.0 is still well short of adulthood. Windows 3.0 was the first version that was recognizable as Windows at all; Mac OS 3.0 came along so long ago that I don’t remember anything about it.

So it’s no knock on version 3.0 of the iPhone software to say that even though it contains 100 new features–some of which are a big deal–there are plenty more it could benefit from. What follows is a highly personal list of stuff I think this OS needs–and as far as I know, none of it is in OS 3.0. If we see some of it in OS 3.1, and more in 4.0, and a sizable chunk by 5.0, I’ll be a contented man.

I said the list is personal, but I tried to be realistic. It contains nothing that I can’t see Apple enabling, or which would require new hardware. I also didn’t include multitasking or Flash support on this list. They’ve been covered to death, and my gut tells me neither is coming to the iPhone soon. Consider them features #26 and #27 if you like, though–and I do suggest some things that might lessen the need for them.

Ready to celebrate the release of OS 3.0 (which is due later today) by being dissatisfied, nitpicky, and generally unreasonable? Here we go.

iPhone OS still needs…

1. Home screen folders. The iPhone desktop is made up of a super-wide, horizontally-scrolling workspace, so it’s possible to sort different sorts of apps into their own screens. But moving them around is a hassle, and you can’t jump directly from any screen to any other one. I want something that the old Palm OS had eons ago: The ability to easily organize apps into folders. [2010 thought: The iPad really needs this.]

2. A Home screen that flips into landscape mode. Most of OS 3.0’s apps now let you work with the nice, wide keyboard enabled by rotating the phone 90 degrees. I’d like to be able to use the phone almost continuously in landscape format if I felt like it–which I guess means that the settings screens and App Store should flip as well as the desktop. [2010 thought: the iPad already has this]

Product mentioned in this article

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  • Apple iPhone 4GB

    This touch-screen phone is innovative, but it's expensive, lacks 3G network access.

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