10 Things Apple Needs To Do To Fix The iPhone


The iPhone 2.0 is only 70 days old, and over 12 million units have been sold. The AppStore is a huge success. iPhone firmware 2.1 fixes many of the bugs. But there a lot more things that need fixing. Here's the Appcraver list:

1. Support background GPS background broadcast on an app-by-app basis.

One of the great promises of iPhone 2.0 with GPS was the ability to locate your friends or colleagues on a map -- in real time. Most people will want to control who they broadcast this information to, and also when. The way to solve this is on an app-to-app basis. Authorize an app such as loopt or facebook to receive your GPS information in background mode, and then build in controls (friends lists) for each app limit who has access to this information. Have an overall setting to turn off and on GPS broadcasting, or set a "fake" GPS location such as your office. In addition to the obvious social networking uses, this could be used to track lost or misplaced phones, interface with local offers ("sale at the store next to you right now"), and many other uses. Expect some version of this feature in Jan 2009.

2. Support video recording on the iPhone.

We know that it's possible. Qik has already released video recording technology for (unauthorized) "Jailbroken" iPhones. With 16GB of memory, the iPhone should in theory be able to record and store 8 hours of video. For video conferencing, we will probably have to wait for a version with 2 camera heads (to allow you to look into the camera and the screen simultaneously). But first, we just need the camera to support the video format. Although there are rumors that this will show up as an Apple app, I think realistically this is part of the (killer) feature set of iPhone 3 -- probably due out 8-9 months from now.

3. Open up the App Store

Let's face it -- the App Store has vastly exceeded everybody's expectations -- including Apple. The idea of Apple reviewing (and censoring) apps on an individual basis makes sense at the 3,000 app level -- it doesn't make sense at the 3,000,000 app level, which is where we are headed. We need to distinguish between the Apple "picks", or recommended apps, and just apps in general, which may be made for very specific uses and audiences. At the end of the day, Apple cannot guarantee (and shouldn't) that every single app published has a PG rating and is malware free. Expect some opening up at MacWorld, Jan 2009

4. Better battery life and/or a detachable battery

Yes, firmware 2.1 helps somewhat, but the fact is: current battery life is unacceptable. To Apple's credit, the iPhone is now so useful, and graphics intensive, that a comparison with Blackberry or any other smartphone is unfair. Still, we need a solution to the problem, and the obvious one is a detachable battery. Don't hold your breath until iPhone3, which will probably not ship until August 2009.

5. Copy and Paste

This is a simple, but glaring omission in the current iPhone feature set. Does Steve Jobs have a personal vendetta against Command/Control C? This can't be technically challenging, and is such a requested feature that you should expect it by Macworld - January 2009.

6. Ability to organize apps (and files) in folders.

With the huge number of new apps, as well as websites morphing into apps (eg: Bloomberg, The NYTimes), the flat structure of page after page of apps is not good enough to store them all. We need a folder system that works for apps -- and other files as well. Apps like Datacase and AirSharing are workarounds for files — but Apple can do so much better. Expect this new "iPhone OS" to ship with iPhone 3, next fall.

7. Ability to receive background notifications.

This is a feature Apple has already announced, and may or may not include the GPS broadcasting issue discussed above. The main functionality increase will be to get instant messenger and other notifications — for example, an up to date count of unread RSS stories. Expect this one very soon, possibly by the end of the month.

8. Open up MobileMe photos with an API and an app.

The ability to move photos from the iPhone camera to the cloud is impressive — but incomplete. There needs to be a way to view these same uploaded pictures on the iPhone itself without going to Safari. Doing this would be possible if Apple opened up the mobile me platform via an API like flickr; allowing programs like Exposure to access the cloud on the phone. And/or they could do it themselves, and integrate into iDisk and iPhoto at the same time. This is probably coming, but not before iPhone 3 (August 2009).

9. Ability to Run MS Office on the iPhone

This is a tough one. While you can view excel and word documents on the iPhone to some extent (as well as PDFs, of course), it would be nice to have a version of Excel in particular that actually ran on the iPhone. I think the probability of this is low — Microsoft barely supports the Apple desktop platform as it is (IE no longer is supported, for instance), so don't expect anything any time soon for the iPhone. This could be an opportunity for someone to port a simple spreadsheet app to the phone; and possibly integrate with a cloud service. Watch for either Zoho, Google or Apple themselves doing this in late 2009.

10. Remove the restrictions on VOIP.

Skype is a natural partner for the iPhone. ATT should at some point just realize that it is selling bandwidth, not minutes or SMSs, and propose a simple pricing model on a per MB basis. Will they do this? Yes, eventually concepts like "roaming" and "plans" will be obsolete — and we will truly be in an "allways on" society. When will that happen? 2012 or later, probably.

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  • John Morriss

    Great post! You said exactly what was on my mind.

  • Rick

    Solid Post. Wish I could copy and paste this list from my iphone to apple support ;)

  • Timothy Bryce

    This is great. Apple, are you listening???

  • http://www.flux.com Brian Ross

    Other iPhone problems: my podcasts don't work right. When I update my software, it doesn't remember which podcasts I've already listened to. That's annoying. And when I'm using my phone, sometimes a podcast that I've paused will just start playing again on its own. Or when I'm playing a podcast, sometimes it will start pausing itself every few seconds. Anyone else seeing these glitches?

  • prashant

    there also needs to be a way to search mail on the iphone

  • http://www.convinceandconvert.com Jason Baer

    By far my biggest annoyance is the inability to hold the iphone landscape orientation when typing emails. Ridiculous.

  • Matt S

    Search Function in the Calander
    Search Function in Contacts
    "Sort By" in E-mail and SMS fields
    Ability to forward SMS to e-mail
    Ability to Save/File SMS msgs
    MMS Capability
    Copy, Cut and Paste for SMS and E-mail
    Landscape Keyboard for SMS/MMS
    Landscape Keyboard (built in) for e-mail
    "Today Screen"
    Integrated page for E-mail and SMS viewing
    New SMS GUI - thi sone sucks!
    Ability to change font size in e-mail and SMS msgs