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

10. Human Interface Device support. The OS now lets third-party applications talk to peripherals through the dock connector–such as Johnson & Johnson’s glucose meter–but as far as I know, there’s still no way to create the one iPhone add-on I most want to buy. Which is a folding keyboard along the lines of the lovable and useful Stowaway. If Apple baked support for the Human Interface Device (HID) standard into the OS, you’d be able to use a physical keyboard anywhere where the on-screen one was available. [2010 thought: The iPad supports keyboards, so I assume/hope there's an excellent chance that the iPhone will, too.]

11. A useful Slide to Unlock screen. You can choose an image to show up when you turn on your phone but haven’t slide to unlock yet, and that’s very pleasant. But how about providing the option of putting information there that might help us avoid having to unlock the phone at all? It would be a nifty place to put appointment details, headers for recently-received e-mails, and the like. Bonus points if there’s an API that lets third-party apps funnel information to the display, too. [2010 thought: The iPad has feature sort of along these lines--you can peek at whatever app is open without unlocking the device.]

12. Background music for third-party apps. Once you’ve used the Palm Pre version of Pandora and streamed music in the background while doing something else useful or entertaining in the foreground, it’s hard to go back to the iPhone–where every music app except for Apple’s own iPod stops playing the moment you launch a different application. If Apple doesn’t want to offer full-blown multitasking, how about providing hooks that let any audio app–Pandora, Last.FM, Slacker, AOL Radio–keep playing music in the background even after you close them? Seems pretty simple to me, and it wouldn’t cause stability problems. [2010 thought: Of course, full-blown multitasking--which is rumored to be in OS 4.0--would be better still.]

13. The ability to subscribe to podcasts and sync them directly on the phone. As far as I can figure, you can snag individual episodes of podcasts you originally subscribed to via iTunes on a Mac or PC. But you can’t subscribe to them so they arrive on your phone whether or not you’ve synced with a computer. I’m in favor of the notion of iPhones being as autonomous as possible, and this would be a significant step in that direction. [2010 thought: This is available through third-party apps.]

14. Window-spawning control in Safari. Safari’s ability to keep up to eight pages open at once is mighty handy–but it becomes a hassle when your capacity is maxed out, and a link is trying to spawn a new window and can’t until you close an existing one. Given a choice, I might tell the browser to always open a new page in the same window unless I specify otherwise–possibly by tapping the link and holding.

15. Hooks to allow the embedding of additional video players in Safari. Apple’s deal with YouTube means that you can play YouTube videos that show up on pages in Safari. Sites such as Joost and TV.com already have iPhone apps. How about letting them (and other sites such as Viddler and Vimeo) them enable Safari integration through some sort of API that permits their embedded videos to launch their apps for playback?

Product mentioned in this article

(1 items)

  • Apple iPhone 4GB

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

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