25 Features iPhone OS Still Needs (Still!)

By  |  Tuesday, April 6, 2010 at 10:48 am

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?

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?



Read more: , , , ,

9 Comments For This Post

  1. Bill Gullicksen Says:


    You’ve covered a lot of what I would like to see. A lot of these things are doable if you wish to jailbreak the phone so at least we know that most are possible and work very well on the current hardware.

    The most important to me would be folders to organize your apps by category. Some multitasking. I wouldn’t want to run a bunch of apps in the background, but the ability to run one or two additional apps in the background would be very useful.

    I’d really like to see support for multiple Exchange accounts. I use an Exchange server at work and one for my personal e-mail as well and would like to have them both sync and push on the iphone, while maintaining the separate calendar and contacts. A unified inbox for all e-mail accounts or a quicker and easier way to move between different e-mail accounts.

  2. Iria Says:

    Annoyingly, most if not all of these are available for jailbroken iPhones, even 11.

  3. Marc Says:

    Nice list – I don’t want home screen folders, I want live widgets, like Android and Windows Mobile. I really hope Apple includes a better home screen and notification system. The ability to add multiple exchange accounts would be nice too. What about the option to turn off automatic email polling and push overnight..? Nokia does this nicely (you can also turn off work email polling at weekends for example)

    Also the ability to search bookmarks/web history from Spotlight would be nice.
    Multitasking would be nice, but it’s only needed because developers don’t save the state upon exit as they should (Windows Mobile 7 freezes processes and resumes them, a great idea btw). Maybe a compromise like task scheduleing for developers, so To-Do List type apps can pop-up reminders without keeping a push connection open constantly.

    Oh and better battery life? 😉

  4. Backlin Says:

    I agree with Iria. As I was going through the list and was thinking, “Jailbreak…jailbreak, Apple fixed it, etc.” I like your video apps hooking into Safari idea though.

    Also, the half-way to listen to podcasts exclusively on the device is to go into the iTunes app and searching for the podcast you subscribe to. There’s a list, tap the episode you want to listen to, it begins streaming. It would be nice to download podcasts though, through the iPod app preferably.

  5. Hugo Says:

    17. The ability to use any song as a ringtone.

    But you can do that w/o jailbreaking! And is soooo easy that anyone can do it.

    Just cut a piece of your music with Quicktime or any other app (even iTunes does that), save it as mp4/aac and rename the extension to m4r. Then you just have to drop it inside iTunes!!

    Yes, thats right. You just need to cut your music in mp4/aac format and rename it to m4r.

    But it looks like that the maximum size of a rintone is 30 seconds, so be sure to trim your music to around 30s.

    Source: http://reviews.cnet.com/tips-tricks/make-your-own-iphone/9602-12576_7-0.html?messageID=2510972

  6. Hamranhansenhansen Says:

    > Home screen folders.

    Please, no.

    > I’d like to see the ability to delay the autolocking
    > by a user-specified amount of time. And hey, why not
    > let us disable it altogether if we feel like it?

    Settings – General – Auto-Lock – Never

    > Access to attachments by third-party applications.

    This is already in v3.2.

  7. Hamranhansenhansen Says:

    > Hooks to allow the embedding of additional video players in Safari.

    Please, no. There is an ISO standard video codec that is universally supported in all of the world’s video players (even FlashPlayer) and there is a W3C standard way to put video in a Web page. No proprietary software is required, no hacks are required. If there is some video that you can’t see on your iPhone, that is entirely the publisher’s fault.

    > 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.

    I’m pretty sure that the phone can have either a 2G or 3G connection to the tower, but not both at once.

    > iChat.

    It looks like they are saving that for when they do video chat.

  8. Andy A Says:

    Harry, for items 11 and 13, can you provide a little more details?

    You said the iPad has the ability to “peek” at tye app that’s open without unlocking… I’ve only been able to see this on the iPod app. What are you experiences?

    As for # 13, can you specify any apps that come to mind that allow you to download podcasts, aside from the iTunes wifi music store?

    Thanks, and by the way, this message sent from my iPad, which I find excitedly easy to type on, and I have hands so large I can’t trace them on a sheet of 8.5 x 11″.


  9. iphone Says:

    I definitely agree a better notes application would be great. Some of the other things mentioned I don’t care much about like subscribing to podcasts, but the other features mentioned would be nice.

3 Trackbacks For This Post

  1. 25 Features iPhone OS Still Needs (Still!) – Technologizer | Latest in Tech News Says:

    […] See the article here: 25 Features iPhone OS Still Needs (Still!) – Technologizer […]

  2. Join Us on Thursday for Live Apple iPhone OS Event Coverage Says:

    […] next for the softwarethat powers the iPhone and iPad? On Thursday morning at 10am PT, we can stop wishing and speculating. I’ll be in Cupertino for Apple’s event on the future of the iPhone OS, […]

  3. My iPhone Wish List: A 4.0 Tally Says:

    […] iPhone OS 3.0 last June, I compiled a list of features I was hoping to see in version 4.0. I went over it again earlier this week when Apple said it was about to preview 4.0. And here’s one last look at my June 2009 […]