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

16. A Genius feature for the App Store. I’m shamelessly swiping this from TechCrunch’s MG Siegler–the App Store should analyze the programs you’ve installed and kept, and recommend others you might like. It might be tough to implement well (the fact you’ve downloaded one Twitter client doesn’t mean you’ll want half a dozen more), but it would be a boon for games, productivity apps, and other general categories where many of the store’s 50,000 apps languish in undeserved obscurity. [2010 thought: Apple added this last September.]

17. The ability to use any song as a ringtone. I guess Apple is still hoping we’ll repurchase all our music from the iTunes Store in ringtone form–although for reasons unknown, it does offer the ability to create custom ringtones from any track in Garage Band. Me, I sometimes want my phone to ring to a song that Apple won’t sell me at any price–like Don Ho’s version of “These Boots Are Made for Walking.”

18. Automatic backup to the cloud. Which is something the Palm Pre does, helping to eliminate the need to connect the phone to a computer; if you ever need to recover an old version of your phone’s data, it can grab your backup across the Net and restore itself. Again, I’m in favor of anything that helps the iPhone behave like a stand-alone computer, not a computer perihperal.

19. Syncing plug-ins for third-party apps. As long as the iPhone does assume that you’ll frequently connect it to your computer and shuttle data back and forth, how about allowing any application to move data during the sync, as Palm’s old desktop software has done for ages? DataViz had to go as far as to write its own Mac and Windows document-syncing utility for Documents to Go, which is kind of silly. [2010 update: The iPad can do this, at least in a limited form--you can choose files to copy to a third-party app. I'm not sure if it's available for the iPhone yet.]

20. Energy Saver. On OS X, you can quickly adjust settings for longer battery life or better performance. How about an iPhone equivalent that lets you choose a low-power mode (dim screen, Bluetooth and Wi-Fi shut off, fast power off) or a more power-hungr, less restrictive one with a single click?

21. 2G phone mode. I’m not sure if OS 3.0 solves this, but there are places where my iPhone 3G is unusable as a phone in 3G mode, and just fine in 2G mode–yes, I’m looking at you, Courtyard Marriott on Second St. in San Francisco. I’m still unclear on the virtue of making voice calls in 3G mode, so I’d like to have the opportunity to put the phone in 2G mode for voice while leaving it in 3G mode for data.

22. Information on how much memory stuff takes up. If you try to download a piece of software from the App Store and don’t have enough space, your iPhone will politely tell you to delete some items to make room. What it won’t do is tell you how much space you need to clear, or how much your songs, videos, and programs eat up. Maybe it can display this information when you press and hold an application’s icon on the Home screen to go into delete/rearrange mode?

23. Sensible settings. There’s no consistency among third-party apps as to whether they put their settings in the app itself, or tuck them away in the phone’s Settings screen. And even Apple’s own settings are a bit of a jumble, with some options sitting behind a “General” menu item and others out in the open. Which means I never remember where to look for what. It’s an odd aberration in an OS that’s wonderfully logical and consistent. I’d like to see Apple clarify how settings should be handled–I’m okay with almost any scenario as well as most applications do it the same way.

24. iChat. At this point, I’m assuming that Apple is happy with third-party instant messaging clients–it’s invited both AOL and Meebo on stage at events to demo their wares–but it would still be good news if an iPhone version of OS X’s iChat showed up. Especially if it were integrated with the Messages application and offered (on the iPhone 3G S, at least) some form of video chat.

25. GPS-based Wi-Fi. Okay, maybe this one is idiosyncratic. Maybe I’m the only one who wants it. But I like to use my iPhone’s Wi-Fi whnen I’m at home and within easy access to my recharging cable and to shut it off when I’m out and about and concerned about battery drain. My iPhone can use GPS to determine when I’m hanging around the house. Why not let it use that knowledge to turn Wi-Fi on when I’m there, and then shut it off when I hit the road?

Product mentioned in this article

(1 items)

  • Apple iPhone 4GB
    3.5/5

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

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