10 ways to fix Apple's iPhone 7. No, really

10 ways to fix Apple's iPhone 7. No, really

Summary: I know it isn't released yet and it's too late for Apple to fix the iPhone 6, but Apple has the opportunity to correct old mistakes (and new ones) at the same time for the iPhone 7.

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I know that you're probably all caught up in Apple's iPhone 6 hype, have seen its "leaked" photos, and have heard all about its alledged new features. But I'm expecting more Apple guff and maybe a few new features that will extract another $600+ out of the hands of people who really can't afford it. If it's as impressive* as the iPhone 5 is/was, then there's not a lot to look forward to.

Read this

Apple iPhone 6 rumor roundup: Specs, price, release date

Apple iPhone 6 rumor roundup: Specs, price, release date

What do we think we know about the anticipated iPhone 6, and more importantly, will you buy the iOS handset?

I've heard the rumors too. I've seen the pictures. I've read the list of guessed at features. I'm not sure which ones to believe and which ones need to be ignored. Among the list of features are sapphire glass, larger screen, more storage, blah, blah, blah. Here's my list of ten features/fixes/changes that I'd like to see Apple implement in the iPhone 7 (in no particular order).

  1. Keep the 3.5mm earphone jack and put it back on top of the phone.
  2. Wireless charging
  3. Wired charging via mini-USB port (you know, something that works)
  4. A wider volume range (11?)
  5. True voice control/handsfree operation
  6. A "press-and-hold" panic button
  7. Fingerprint scan security
  8. Built-in scanning software (Doc/OCR/picture)
  9. Proximity lock/unlock
  10. Brick mode

3.5mm Earphone Jack

It's rumored that the iPhone 6 has no 3.5mm earphone jack. That's a design flaw. Users need the jack and not always for earbuds. For example, I have an iblazr 3.5mm flash unit that, of course, fits into the earphone jack. It provides continuous lighting for iPhone movies and iPhone pictures. On the iPhone 4, the jack is located on the phone's top edge. The new and improved** iPhone 5 has it conveniently*** located on the bottom of the phone. Now anything that I place into that jack, including my earbuds, are awkward and inconvenient.

Wireless Charging

One of the iPhone 6 features that I've heard about is wireless charging. Hey, that would be a grand idea, since my lightning charger that came with my iPhone 5 rarely works. I keep getting this message about it being an incompatible cable. Really? The factory one? OK. I plugged in my iPhone 5 the other night to charge it and guess what? The next morning on my way to the YMCA, I had no charge, although it had been plugged in all night long. Awesome is the only word that I can use to describe my feeling that the cable didn't work. Yes, please sell me another $600 iPhone please.

Wired mini-USB Port

Yes, indeed. Please put a wired mini-USB charging port on the iPhone 7. You know...because it works and when one breaks, I can easily and cheaply replace it. No, mini-USB ports aren't perfect, but they don't cost $30 to replace either. Just use a mini-USB one like everyone else. You don't always have to be different and proprietary. That proprietary thing is so last century.

Wider Volume Range

It's weird, but my iPhone 5 has volume problems. My iPhone 4 didn't. It seems as if that it only has two volumes: ON or OFF. It's either blaring or so soft that I can't hear it. And it's not consistent. If I talk on the phone, I have to press the volume down button several times to hold the phone to my head. When I listen to music at that same level, it's so faint that I can't hear it. Can you widen the range, adjust the gain, tune the squelch or something for the iPhone 7? It would help a lot. Make it go to 11.

Voice Control/Handsfree Operation

Since the early days of the iPhone 3, I'd read where you could perform a hack so that you could use voice control. I saw a demo of it. Supposedly that was going to be an iPhone 4 feature. It never materialized. It's still not a feature, even in my daughter's $600 iPhone 5C. In fact, other than a little bit better Siri, I haven't seen any improvements in the iPhone 5 or 5C over the iPhone 4. There must be a few more than what I've seen, but I can't seem to find them.

It would be nice to have handsfree, voice control on my phone—especially when driving. Fortunately, I have Bluetooth in my car and can pretty much use it handsfree, but it's still kind of painful to use anywhere else without fumbling around.

Voice recognition could also be a security feature. For example, you train the phone to listen to your voice only and then you say, "Lock Phone", "Unlock Phone", or "Secure Phone". To further secure your phone, once you lock it, it could display a simple word on the screen to say after you tell your phone to unlock.

You: "Lock Phone".

<PHONE DISPLAY>doghouse</PHONE DISPLAY>

You: "Unlock Phone" "Doghouse"

Phone unlocks.

That's a multifactor security measure. Voice recognition to lock and unlock the phone plus the next level of a code that changes each time you lock the phone.

As a side note, I gave my son (The Giant Ginger) my iPhone 4, when I got my iPhone 5. He needed it. His iPhone 3GS' screen looked like a broken eggshell. He now complains of lockups, crashing apps, and battery life problems on my beloved iPhone 4.

As a side, side note, neither he nor my oldest son (College student and owner of an iPhone 4S) want anymore Apple iPhones. Both are looking into getting something else. I hate to tell them that the alternatives are pretty lame too. I've never had good experiences with an Android phone and my Windows phone is...well, a Windows phone. It's gigantic, heavy and I hate it. So, my choices are really almost non-existent. 

A Press-and-Hold Panic Button

I've written about a panic button before and several people have contacted me about their panic button type products—some of which are cool and some are just OK. The latest one that I've looked at is the Pressy Button, but it only works on a limited number of Android devices—consequently none that I have. A panic button would allow users to quickly dial an emergency number with a single press and hold feature. That way it can't be accidentally engaged.

Fingerprint Scan Security

I've also heard that the new iPhone and maybe some Android models are going to feature fingerprint scan security. It would be nice, but I'll believe it when I see it. Fingerprint scanning isn't totally foolproof and you can think up your own scenarios as to why it would fail, but it certainly is better than a 4-digit passcode.

Built-in Scanning Software

How handy would it be to snap a picture of a document and then be able to edit that document a few seconds after you snap the picture of it? Take a picture, edit, send. Very simple, yet I'm unaware that it's been done. I'm sure that someone will tell me that they've developed an app for that, but I haven't seen it and I've searched the App Store for one.

Proximity Lock/Unlock

Got Bluetooth? As in Bluetooth headset. You get within a few feet of your phone and it unlocks for you. Too easy for a thief with your headset? Then couple that proximity lock/unlock feature with a voice command keyword as described earlier. Voila!

Brick Mode

I know that there's remote lockout and remote wipe, if you connect to icloud.com, find your phone, and then issue the command. But what if you could "brick" the device after a defined number of unsuccessful login attempts or a panic URL such as: http://icloud.com/khess/doghouse/brick. If you've read the other ideas, you'll understand the logic here. To retrieve a system out of brick mode would require a trip the Apple store or perhaps an unlock URL: http://icloud.com/khess/supernatant/unbrick. The code word "supernatant" would be one that you setup during your phone's initialization. Of course you could change it on demand as well.

And you're probably thinking that someone could unbrick the device by brute forcing the website, but you'd have to know the person's username and the secret word, which could be anything. By that time, you could hit the icloud.com site and remote wipe it or lock it in the usual way.

There you have my ten fixes for the iPhone 7. Sadly, it's too late for the iPhone 6, which I'll never have. Probably the only person in my house that would buy one, if anyone does, is my wife who has an "outdated" iPhone 4S. When my iPhone 5 becomes outdated in another nine months, I don't know what kind of phone I'll get for my personal phone. I'm not too happy with any of the available choices. The only phone I was ever really happy with was my Blackberry. The iPhone 4 ran a very close second.

*By "impressive", I mean totally not impressive.
**Not improved
***Not convenient (Are you seeing a pattern here?)

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Topics: Apple, Hardware, Mobile OS, Mobility, Software

About

Kenneth 'Ken' Hess is a full-time Windows and Linux system administrator with 20 years of experience with Mac, Linux, UNIX, and Windows systems in large multi-data center environments.

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55 comments
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  • No 3.5mm jack

    how are you supposed to listen to music?
    Mac_PC_FenceSitter
    • I'd be surprised

      is there was no headphone jack. Apple did just buy Beats, which makes...headphones.
      Low_tech
      • Also

        Also, don't those credit card readers plug into the 3.5 mm jack? Hard to imagine Apple would release a phone that would require small merchants to buy new credit card reader hardware.
        dsf3g
        • I would not be surprised

          Apple would love people (small merchants included) to have to purchase more.
          grayknight
        • If they get rid of the 3.5mm

          It would surely be to enable additional channels instead of the 3.5mm system.

          In itself I'm on board with replacing the 3.5mm - but only with another standard; not a proprietary thing that means apples beats headphones only.

          In the current apple headphones, as many high end headphones there are more than one speaker per ear - to Berger reproduce different frequencies.

          However the 3.5mm standard only has 2 audio channels - left and right. You have 4 pins: ground (used to complete all circuits) left, right, and the remote control (mic, stop, pause, play, volume up and down, start/end call)

          With more channels you enable different signals to be supped to the different speakers, producing better sound.

          A change to the port could also enable the use of both digital and analog connections. For reasons of cost and portability headphones are likely to remain analogue, but the ability to have a standard that can also be used for direct to amp digital signals on the same port is perfect.

          In short the 3.5mm port is very old, low fidelity tech. A replacement would allow for high definition audio and better fidelity of existing tracks.

          But as I say, the last thing we need is several years of war between rival connectors with incompatible requirements.

          As for putting the headphone back on the top, I disagree. I've had a number of android devices with the headphone port at the bottom, and I've come to understand apple were wrong to start with.

          Here's why:
          The only situation where the headphones coming from the top work better is when the device is held in portrait in your hand. Even then the cable will fall into the screen if the distance between your head and the screen is too short.

          So what's the advantage of a bottom port? Well for one, take your phone and hold it in your hand and use it in portrait mode. Now put it in your pocket. Which way up is the phone? It's upside-down. It is the hinge motion of your elbow that means the phone will nearly always go into the pocket upside-down and this come out right way up. This means the headphone cable comes straight out, and doesn't get crushed at the bottom of your pocket, so it lasts longer.

          2 - hold your phone to your ear like you are on the phone. See how it is angled out from your head and unless you have long hair the top is exposed? If you walk in the rain on your phone with a top headphone port moisture will eventually go into the port.

          As soon as I got an android device after my iPhone 3GS I knew apple had it wrong and then they changed it.

          Oh and finally if apple do make a proprietary port you will still be able to use all your 3.5mm headphones! I'd imagine the adapter they'll sell will cost £25!
          MarknWill
    • Bluetooth Headphones

      Perhaps they are just getting rid of the wires between the phone and ear buds. Maybe they want everyone to buy Bluetooth ear buds, especially since they own Beats audio, now.
      BillDem
  • *YAWN*

    Who cares about most of these things?

    Oh, and about the position of the headphone jack: I LIKE it on the bottom, because I'm almost always using headphones while at work. The phone sits right side up, and the cable comes out the proper location.

    And if you're holding the phone, the cable doesn't isn't draping over or under your hand, loops more naturally out of the bottom, and puts less stress on the connector and the wire where it enters the plug.

    The only real use case I could see for the jack on the top is when the phone is in your pocket, but since you can't see the screen then, who cases if it's upside-down?
    aep528
    • Yeah, most of the items listed don't matter to me.

      I'd rather see it become waterproof with a cutting edge camera. Plus, I always want more internal storage and longer battery life.
      BillDem
  • iPhone 8 with NFC

    or the iPhone 9, maybe iPhone 10. It takes a while for Apple to adopt standards.
    Sean Foley
    • shrug

      takes a while to figure out if they're worth anything. Almost all the stuff that Samsung used to bleat about being able to do with NFC is stuff the iPhone can do with over the wire protocols.

      I'm not saying there's anything wrong with NFC, or even that Apple shouldn't implement it: I am just saying that taking a "wait and see" approach isn't always the wrong thing to do. Your own favoured vendor has done that many times with its browser, for instance.
      Mac_PC_FenceSitter
      • I hope apple adopts NFC

        that and the switch in oct '15 to chip and pin (and NFC) will help ensure tap and pay is everywhere. Its a nice convenience I've come to enjoy when available (on the nexus 5)
        drwong
        • No vision anymore

          I just dont think Apple has the vision or ability to transform a technology like NFC into a must have feature. For example; the iBeacon technology is completely proprietary and useless for the 85%+ of phones. NFC tags in the store or on a shelf would be standard for all and less intrusive. I just think Steve Jobs would have done a better job foreseeing NFC tech and done it right, skrew iBeacon.
          Sean Foley
          • iBeacon Misunderstanding

            Apple has the vision and ability to transform just about any technology into a must have feature if they develop it long enough, which is why they have sat on NFC. Do you see Apple touting iBeacon as a mobile payment solution? No. Because that's not what it is for. iBeacon simply allows apps to receive a location aware ID that can aid the user in receiving location specific content. I could in theory be used in a payment solution, but its too expensive and unwieldy for that in its current iterations. Instead it is being used to give GPS like capabilities in airports and large department stores and could be used to alert users about certain promotions or specials. Apple has over 200 million credit-card-on-file iTunes users, if it came out with a payment solution, as is currently rumored, and has negotiated support with all the credit card companies and a spattering of major retailers, it is likely going to turn into a must have feature. If the current rumors turn out to be true, its going to be NFC based. We'll have to see what happens. But either way, pitting iBeacon vs. NFC is the wrong way to look at it. The two technologies can be simply and elegantly merged into a payment platform where iBeacons assist the buyer in finding what they need, and NFC helps them complete the purchase.
            ddorrity
          • well said, however...

            I have no faith in Apple to release anything that can be used in a standard way. Rather its likely to be proprietary and closed, and SF's comment holds.
            marc_w
          • Wallet

            At least they are putting NFC in their watch while others are removing it. Apparently others have so little vision that they fail to see how useful it will be for payments.
            Forbius
    • BLE

      Sure! That's why they were the first to put Bluetooth low energy on their phones. A tech that can do the same and more and is actually superior to NFC !
      Forbius
  • 10 ways to fix the iPhone 9

    1. Automatically ignore click-bait articles about products that won't exist for another 30 months.
    2. -> 10. Not really as important as number 1 at the moment.
    alsw
  • mini-USB

    Surely you meant micro-USB (like everyone else). Or it's possible you didn't.
    joelrondeau
    • God, please no

      I've said it before: I hate micro-USB. The connections are so flimsy and the jacks break. My BlackBerry gear always has this problem where I can't connect it to the computer any more after a few years. Plus, Micro USB isn't reversible.

      Apple's lightning connectors are VASTLY superior. I'd rather see them share that with the industry and have THAT become standard.

      Of course wireless charging would be the real iPhone must have, as far as I'm concerned. There shouldn't be cables at all.
      Mac_PC_FenceSitter
      • Both of you (joelrondeau & Mac_PC_FenceSitter) must forgive Ken

        Ken is REALLY old school and just hasn't embraced Apple's use of superior technology employed by it's Lightning adapter designs yet.

        In fact, I understand that Ken's gold standard in which he compares all smartphone designs to is still the Motorola Razor. (Actually, not a bad standard.)
        kenosha77a