Open Thread: How would you improve the iPhone

69 thoughts on “Open Thread: How would you improve the iPhone”

  1. *** Definitely need more storage***
    1) optional landscape keyboard for all apps (not just Safari)
    2) “swipe to delete” for all items (not just email)
    3) copy/paste functionality
    4) file organizer so you could sync important files from Mac/PC <-> iPhone
    5) password manager integration
    6) open Bluetooth port for wireless syncing

    1. Real third-party apps. How about a Cocoa SDK for iPhone?

    2. GPS, 3G, although I don’t know if GPS will kill the battery life.

    3. Flash is important. Java? Meh. I guess if enough users demand it.

    • GMail via push-IMAP (not Apple’s issue)
    • Hard drive option
    • Keyboard selection of contacts
    • Rotateable screen for SMS and Notes
    • iChat
    • OTA sync
  2. The absolute worst thing about this device is that the consumer is paying full retail price for it and still being locked into a 2 year contract. Apple’s not going to unlock this thing, but I hope someone does, because I am not going to spend 5 – 600 bucks on such a crippled device

  3. -The most critical missing element is the lack of Flash support. One does not realize how much Flash is on the web these days until you don’t have it and youre trying to surf the web. This must be addressed as the first step to making Safari useful.

    -There is no way to highlight, cut, or copy text. I didn’t know how much I was using this feature until I didn’t have it.

    -We already knew there is no push mail, already a sina qua non. But other shortcomings in the e-mail client are remarkable. For example, there is no way to delete all the messages in your inbox. I must be kidding, right? No.
    -There is also no way to delete all your text messages, without doing each one individually.
    -There is no way to attach a photo to a message. You have to first go to the photo gallery, take a photo, and then start a new message with it.
    -There is no way to save a photo from an email… I want to use said photos for the contact list photos of my friends.
    -There is no way to set the phone to automatically check mail in intervals of less than 15 minutes.
    -There is no way to reply/reply all/forward a message with one click. Instead you have to bring up the entire list of options and then choose.
    -There is no way to view e-mails or PDFs in landscape mode, even though you can view web pages in landscape mode. This would have been a really fantastic feature.
    -There is no way to pull up a contact who you want to call by typing their name. (I guess this is a good device for people who do not have many contacts and do not receive much e-mail.) -Similarly, there is no way to find the name of a song or artist by typing the name.

    -The virtual keyboard is very good – for a virtual keyboard. But it does not compete with an actual keyboard. It is a huge pain that so many common symbols (. , @) require you to go to another keyboard screen and then back.

    • Even when using wifi, Safari renders pretty slowly. Despite Apple’s claim that it is a “full browser on a phone”, Safari feels limited. For example, even though it is tabbed browsing, there is no way to click a link to open in a new tab. This is a daunting problem given that the network is so slow anyway and you do not want to reload anything if you can avoid it.

    -Perhaps by design, the phone feels very one-dimensional. For example, with Nokia in most other phones, you can usually click on a “menu” type a button that brings up a list of options related to what you are looking at. that type of capability feels limited on this and said, and you are mostly if there’s something you can do WITH whatever you’re looking at, it is some button already on the screen.

    -Safari works poorly with Gmail, which is a big deal for me. The Calendar does not sync with Google calendar, another problem. I hope that Google will release iphone apps.

    -I wish they had a visual address book a la the HTC Touch.

    -No direct music download is too bad but I can understand that that technical hurdle is too high. And I have to nod and smile at the prescient paternal condescension of not allowing us dumb customers to choose our own songs as ringtones.

    -A battery that makes it through the day!! They must’ve done something special to the battery that they gave the big four.

  4. Having used the iphone for a few days now, the biggest annoyance is being not able to use it while driving.

    Since there is no voice recognition, and no tactile feedback, one has to look carefully at the screen to call someone, not a good idea while driving.

  5. and PS.

    No IM? Come on.

    and PPS.

    All of you who jump to Apple’s defense for the myriad AT&T-driven shortcomings of the phone, among them probably: no IM, slow network, locking a phone that you don’t subsidize, etc… all of you are really reading a business blog?

    Because last time I checked, the folks at Apple weren’t too dim. They knew when they made the deal with AT&T what they meant. And just like they made the decision on our behalf that songs shouldn’t be ringtones, they made the decision on our behalf that we could live with who they partnered with. That’s because AT&T brings the numbers–shows them the money. So that’s not an AT&T problem, that’s Apple’s choice. AT&T didn’t suddenly downgrade to edge and acquire horrid customers service on June 28.

  6. make it sturdy, strong and durable and add up a dust free cover to it. it makes no sense to see it getting smashed over an accidental drop.

    Add up an extra USB port that will come in handy to connect my USB shaver or any other USB peripheral to it.

  7. Biometric password management. Adding a small fingerprint reader would make the iPhone so much more convenient, and just that much more interesting/cool/extravagant…

  8. GPS
    Exchange sync email/calender/contacts (half my company wants one badly)
    Better faster Camera 5.0Megpix
    Record Video in 16X9! 24 fps
    More storage

  9. I have been using the iphone intensively for the last 4 days. I love the device. I also have been reading most all of the reviews on the iphone, user interface, user experience, and ease of use. We all have to keep in mind how apple conducts their business….they have an extremely keen marketing sense and a dedicated following (including me). Understanding this means apple gets us to buy first, second, third, and eventually all products. All along the way updating all products with an ease to use software update. This is the key. I can just imagine apple will soon update version 1 software on the iphone we all just purchased. This update will coincide with the launch of the new os and kick ass.
    i look forward to games, gps, iwork integration, spotlight, ichat, etc. I also, truthfully, would pay for any software that would optimize and assist me with work and productivity.
    Go apple! Looking toward to new updates soon. Great first execution. Really need 3g….but then again….I am sure you knew people would buy version 1 didn’t you.

    1. GPS w/ Turn-by-turn navigation
    2. Multi-network IM (a la Adium)
    3. GPS w/ Turn-by-turn navigation
    4. OTA Cal/Address Book Sync
    5. Did I mention GPS w/ Turn-by-turn navigation?
    6. Better Calculator when rotated horizontally. Honestly, it’s sounds trivial, but a few more functions would be nice (sqrt, trig functions, etc)
    7. Uh…GPS?
    8. More storage.
  10. Overall, I’m thrilled with my new iPhone. The Web browsing alone has me hooked. I am, however, concerned about what will happen if/when I need to replace the battery…from what I’ve read online, it will require that I ship my phone to Apple for several days, pay them about $85 and then add all of my data back on to the phone when it’s returned to me. All three of those steps is worrisome, but the idea of losing my phone for several days is unacceptable. I’m crossing my fingers that there’s another fix in place before I have to cross that bridge.

  11. Looks like the most candid iPhone shortcomings list so far emerges from these comments!
    I didn’t know you couldn’t share an internet connection via bluetooth, that feature is so basic! iChat bubbles are dreadful, can you not have sms with these?

  12. The ability to use the iPhone to connect a laptop (Mao or Windows) to the internet (EDGE or 3G). The internet connection’s there. The bluetooth is there. Why no link between the two?

  13. Like others here, I’ve been playing with my iPhone non-stop since getting it last Saturday. Here are my list of improvements:

    1) Add zoom & flash to camera and video recording
    2) Add audio recording for quick notes..perhaps automatic transcription to notes
    3) Add GPS to enhance GMaps
    4) OTA downloads from ITMS
    5) 3G connectivity for faster surfing
    6) Offer SDK so that users can get better aps…open up the iPhone!
    7) Skype & IM integration (Keyboard rocks btw, I can type faster on the iphone than BB..amazing speed improvements when you don’t actually have to press physical keys)
    8) Would like to save pictures from email.
    9) Screen/keyboard rotation for email, notes and other apps.
    10) Better call audio quality. The voice quality is just ‘ok’. Coming from Verizon, it’s a step back..but I’m sure this is AT&T’s fault.
    11) Louder speakerphone
    12) Open Bluetooth up so that non-iphone headsets can work.
    13) More voice dialing features.
    14) Coverflow for contacts (pictures)…I’ve begun to assign pictures to all my contacts. It’s totally changes the experience.
    15) More native apps on home screen..widgets or otherwise…(want flight tracker, zagat’s, etc)
    16) Weather icon should default to first city selected, so current weather is always present on the home screen..just like calendar (without clicking to open)
    17) More ringtones & wallpapers…Save mp3 as ringtones

  14. I don’t own an iPhone myself but after the non-stop barrage of iPhone news and commentary over the past few weeks, I’ve absorbed quite a lot about it. IMHO, the first thing they need to do is improve the closed battery situation. As described in an NYT print article, the iPhone battery has less than 400 recharges. With the music, YouTube, Internet browsing and voice activities, I think the average user will end up recharging the phone at least once every 2 days — potentially requiring the user to send the iPhone back to Apple for a battery replacement within two years (unless they can afford to spend another $500+ to buy the next model).
    I can see that kind of replacement service being acceptable for an iPod — but who can live without a phone for a few days? Not I.

    I vote for better battery management!!

  15. First of all, this is the best first effort on a cell phone ever, not to mention all its ground-breaking technology, and packaging. I think in this respect, Apple has done the right “temporary” think in locking it down. The first out of the box experience is hands-down the best of any first gen product ever.

    That being said:

    1. More expandability whether through a real SDK or whatever.
    2. Select, cut and paste between aps, a must.
    3. Exchange/Blackberry integration to quiet the corp types.
    4. 3G is obvious
    5. Keyboard in landscape for all aps. However, I have to say I have almost mastered the keyboard in a few days, and it took less time than my keyboard Treo
    6. Flash support is imperative (Java is not. let it die).
    7. GPS, though the Google maps works great without it, all you need is your current location.
    8. Local doc storage that can be utilized by aps
    9. Better calendar and to do stuff. This is imperative in a smart phone.
    10. Some obvious missing aps that other Apple stuff has–most notably Chat.

    Camera–ah who cares. I think most people who bought or buy this will have a decent digicam. Maybe add video.

    That being said, much of this can easily be added via sofware updates (maybe even GPS, since the phone should have a GPS sensor in it for location/911 requirements. This is by far the best phone out the door ever, and it sets standards no one could have seen coming 7 months ago.

  16. I agree with GPS, 3G connectivity and IM. The other major features I’d like are:

    1. Landscape-mode operation for everything.

    The keyboard is so much more usable in landscape mode; I would especially like it in the SMS app.

    1. Send-again and/or send-to-many SMS.

    I want to be able to tell everybody in my address book my new number, and I want to tell all my work mates that I’m going to be late. I have unlimited SMS messages; why can’t I send multiple SMS at the same time? Even my crappy old Sony-Ericsson let me do that.

  17. Change the way it is sold and subsidised, so that we avoid this ludicrous DVD Zone 0 type situation where customers try to fight the product vendor to get at a product they want in a manner that works for them.

    Glass of Ice water or not, hell will freeze over first.

  18. Austin,

    Those were all really excellent shortcomings and suggestions. All I’m saying is, the question was:
    iPhone 2.0 – what WILL Apple add or change about the iPhone to enhance the next version?
    And what WILL happen is they will lose the exclusivity with AT&T.
    Something similar to what Bill Erickson mentioned is going to happen.
    http://www.billerickson.net/2007/06/30/iphone-v2-or-what-the-iphone-should-have-been/
    But hey, they had to start somewhere, and from a marketing perspective, the initial AT&T combination apparently is working very well.

  19. Most of the other comments are good. Here is my top 3.

    1. Exchange sync support over the air
    2. Better e-mail – not so many clicks to navigate e-mail
    3. 3rd Party Apps !!!!
    1. Open it up so that it can use non-at&T SIM cards.

    2. Enable a VoIP client when the iPhone is logged onto a WiFi hotspot.

    3. use a better data network than edge and enable VoIP on that as well.

    Fred Wilson, Jeff Pulver, and I have offered “rewards” for the first developer to do some of these things.

    http://blog.tomevslin.com/2007/07/an-iphone-id-bu.html
    http://avc.blogs.com/a_vc/2007/07/unlocked-ipho-1.html
    http://pulverblog.pulver.com/archives/007181.html

    1. 3G
    2. A far more robust email client with proper push mail support (Exchange ActiveSync)
    3. Editing of Office docs
    4. GPS or a decrippled Bluetooth that would allow external receivers
    5. A proper filesystem
    6. Third party applications
    7. Cut the price in half or sell without a contract

    And before you respond with “Apple can fix all that with a software update” please remember that (a) the iPhone is NOT unique in this regard and (b) Apple does not have a history of upgrading its consumer devices via software updates – what significant feature has been added to the iPod this way? Apple would much rather you buy the next-gen iPod than allow you to upgrade your current one for free. Maybe the 2 year AT&T contract changes this pattern, but Apple’s track record is pretty clear.

  20. I don’t have one myself, but from reviewing online specs and such, I would say:

    1. 3G
    2. Internal/External Storage
    3. Unlocked to any carrier
    4. A solid SDK for third-party and individual application development.
  21. Most of the comments above refer to incremental first-step improvements to the iPhone. What we should realize is that the iPhone is a pretty basic and initial version of the convergence device of the future. If you look far into the future of what the iPhone (or a similar device could be), you can see that:

    1. It will be your wallet, replacing all your currency and plastic – ID card, driver’s license, credit cards, membership cards, insurance cards, family photos, etc.

    2. It will be your one phone everywhere – cell phone, home phone, office phone, car phone.

    3. It will be your modem for Internet and cable TV connectivity.

    4. It will be your universal media player – not only playing audio and video on its own screen, but being able to connect (wirelessly) and play on your big-screen monitor/TV and home theatre system.

    5. It will be your universal remote control – for every device in your home, including your oven/stove, washing machines, refrigerator, lighting and all other audio/video equipment. It will be a remote control you can use from another room or another building or another town!

    6. Finally, it will be your personal computer – if it comes with a powerful enough processor, and big enough RAM and hard disk, why would you need another computer? Simply connect your phone (wirelessly) to a monitor and keyboard, and you’ve got a PC!

    PS: For a more detailed description of a futuristic device with all the above functionality, you may read my blog post:

    http://blog.libranlover.net/2005/10/notes-from-future-1-my-buddy.html.

    PPS: I wrote the above blog post long before I had heard any iPhone rumors. When the iPhone was announced, I was amazed at how closely its form factor matched the device I had described months earlier!

  22. Security! Biometric password management tied to heavily encrypted data. This is ESSENTIAL. A phone is way easier to lose than a laptop but you’ll soon enough be carrying your life data on it, plus auto login to web sites.

    Removable storage and USB connectivity of course. Come on Apple! Open up!

    I’ve used my iPhone more in 4 days than my My Nokia N800 in 4+ months!

  23. What’s funny to me is that most of these suggestions are features that already exist in other phones.. that’s what you get for buying an over-priced, under featured “pretty” piece of junk.

  24. Much can be fixed in software, so let’s focus on hardware.

    1. 3G (the only reason I didn’t buy v1)
    2. GPS (not completely needed but would make me wet my pants. With that screen, can you imagine?)
  25. I’m mostly concerned with the oddly missing functionality in the main software applications.

    1. Not being able to search for contacts by typing in the Phone application. You can do this in both the SMS and the Mail applications.

    2. Not being able to set Mail to only check email during certain times of the day. I’d like it to not bother checking mail (and using battery) while I’m sleeping, for instance.

    3. Mail does not have a way to move a message to a mail folder without first viewing the message.

    4. Having more of the default icons display some bit of data would be very cool. Default weather and stock info would be neat. I don’t know what impact this might have on the battery life or speed of loading, though.

    5. 3rd party software is obvious and will come eventually. I would love an SSH client!

    I’ll likely think of more over time.

  26. To all the nay sayers – Apple has a certified hit – perhaps the first “viral gadget”. In just a few days my iPhone has been recognized by a guy at the supermarket checkout, a waitress at dinner, a parking valet, teachers at my daughter’s summer camp, kids of people I visited on the weekend (17 year old daughter screamed “I HAVE to have this for my 18th birthday). My daughter asked “How come everyone wants to look at your phone dad?”. The iPhone is the first “viral gadget”, in the same way that Facebook widgets are viral (vs a Vista gadget that sits on your own personal desktop). Sure its got limitations, some really big ones for many current smart phone users. Like most things in life its horses for courses, but that shouldn’t invalidate the giant leap forward it represents.

    1. Movie gadget which allows me to find movies playing in a given area. (Yes, you can do that now with Yahoo’s mobile movie web site, but it’d be nice if it were a first class application.)

    2. More memory.

    3. Integrated aggregating RSS reader client. RSS on Safari (and Safari on the phone) is useless because it doesn’t aggregate.

    4. Address book list search. And make the address book list a top-level choice rather than leave it under the phone menu; sometimes I just want to look someone up.

    5. iChat

    6. An open SDK for third party applications.

  27. (1) VoIP client (automatically use it for calls when on Wi-Fi)

    (2) Allow laptops to access the internet via Bluetooth

    (3) enable AIM (iChat) in addition to SMS

    For me it’s all about better connectivity.

    P.S. And yes, it’s a great phone too.

  28. So you want a productive keyboard, GPS, 3G Network, IM, Picture Messaging, Mobile Gaming, Studio Bluetooth, Video Camera, Content Sharing, Wireless Music Downloads, Replaceable Battery, and lower price tag, you have bought a wrong phone. You should have bought this: http://compare.helio.com/

    But I have to admire Apple’s marketing and iPhone’s slick innovative UI. iPhone is designed mainly for a consumer handheld which provides great web surfing (on wi-fi only), but it is not a phone centric design. Try to make a call while you drive, and then you understand. You need to use two hands for almost all operations. Try to type an extended message or document, you will feel a strong need of a real keyboard. Its closed application development keeps itself out of Business and Enterprise environment. So you are locked in with AT&T Edge for now, but you know that you deserve something better and more choices. So you have to send in your exciting gadget back to Apple a few days for replacing battery, you know something is wrong here. Where did they come up this great idea? You are already talking about iPhone 2.0 now, that will be another box and another $499. And it may never come. For the rest of us who are serious about moble phone and computing, keep your Treo, Blackberry, iPod, Laptop and be productive.

  29. Austin,

    No idea. I think you’re right though…it is supposed to be long-term. I have read two years and I have read five years. I can’t imagine why anyone would agree to more than two years, when the top three U.S. carriers are so close in subscriber count…that’s a lot of business to turn away and you would think Apple of all tech companies has learned the lesson of how much more profitable it is to sell to the mainstream market, lol. I suspect it is on the shorter end and if it is as wildly successful as predicted, then they find a way out of it if need be.

  30. Why is anyone seriously considering the current iPhone?

    NO 3G!!! Other phones have 3G for a couple years now and Webbrowsing without 3G is stone age technology…. it may look nice, have some nice features – but come on. No 3G, low camera resolution makes it a no-no.

    Would you buy a Porsche with a lawn mower engine? No, unless you dont use it and just want people to look at you sitting in a nice car.

    1. Tasks/to do part of iCal (How can you have a SmartPhone without basic PDA functions?)

    2. iChat

    3. Flash

    4. copy & paste, highlight to delete, horizontal keyboard in all apps

  31. All the following are “musts” IMO (the lack of any one of these is a show stopper for me):

    1. “DUN” profile for bluetooth (to allow MacBook/MacBook Pro to use the iPhone to gain internet access “on the go”). Other profiles that may be useful are A2DP (stereo audio), and keyboard.
    2. GPS – or better yet, A-GPS – even if not with bundled mapping software (Google maps w/GPS support would do).
      3a. 3G (UMTS, HSDPA). Preferrably tri-band (850/1900 MHz for AT&T and 2100MHz for international markets). Long term, also add 1700/2100Mhz for T-Mobile, OR
      3b. 4G (WiMax). Sprint is rolling it out next year, and it will be added to the Nokia N800 internet tablet (which is much more capable as an internet device/computer than the iPhone is anyway).
    3. J2ME. It’s ridiculous that there is no real 3rd party application support on the iPhone – especially from a company like Apple.

    The following are my wishlist items:

    1. Expandable memory (SD, miniSD, microSD form factor).
    2. Sell a version without carrier lock/branding (even if at a premium). At the very least, make it compatible with standard AT&T SIMs, so that you can switch between the iPhone and a more capable phone at will.
    3. WPA enterprise/RADIUS/PEAP/MSCHAPv2 for connectivity to corporate WLANs.
  32. Improved calender

    This is a must have for busyness use and for me as a fundamentally disorganized person.
    I am coming from a palm pilot that has a suburb built in calender that I can’t live without.

    Basic stuff
    1. Color coding and grouping of appointments in custom categories. (seriously when did apple decide against color coding?)
    2. Display color coded info on the month screen similar to palm.
    3. Sync with a desktop calender with the same functionality so appointments can be entered from either the phone or the desktop.

    A tab key on the keyboard would be good for web forms.

  33. I would add sms so you can get your pix-messages that your friends send you without haveing to do alot of crap you can just go to your inbox and see and save your messages.

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