iPhone's missing features

iPhone's missing features

Summary: I want to start out by saying that I think that the iPhone will be wildly successful. I think that Apple will sell boat loads of them. I will definitely be buying one, at minimum for research purposes. That being said, it would be irresponsible to simply laud the device without pointing out some of it's more serious deficiencies, and there are several of them.

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TOPICS: iPhone
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iPhone features slide from MacworldAfter yesterday's short hiatus from iPhone coverage, I'm back on the bandwagon again.

I want to start out by saying that I think that the iPhone will be wildly successful. I think that Apple will sell boat loads of them. I will definitely be buying one, at minimum for research purposes. That being said, it would be irresponsible to simply laud the device without pointing out some of its more serious deficiencies, and there are several of them.

I should also mention that the following are my list of missing iPhone's missing features, so they won't necessarily be yours.

iPhone's missing features:

  1. Third party support. Apple is making the iPhone a walled garden without allowing third party applications to be installed. Apple claims that it's for security reasons but I think that they'll eventually bow to public pressure and release an SDK and allow certain "blessed" applications in. Besides, there's always the "browser hole."
  2. Browser plug-ins/Flash/Javascript. This is still up in the air, but Apple is staying mum on exactly which plug-ins the "Safari" browser will support. I think that dropping Javascript and/or Flash is a deal-breaker.
  3. Carrier choice. Being locked to Cingular with a 2-year contract is a bit of a bummer. What ever happened to it being carrier-free?
  4. Phone and data price plans. This worries me a lot. I hope that Cingular doesn't take advantage of early adopters with crazy-expensive price plans.
  5. Removable battery. This is a huge potential problem in emergency situations and when traveling. The only upside is that all iPod 30-pin dock connector accessories will work.
  6. 3G. Apple and Cingular opted for EDGE networking in iPhone, which isn't 3G. I've gotten spoiled by Verizon's EVDO speeds, so EDGE is a big step backward. My understanding is that they didn't opt for Cingular's faster HSDPA networking because it would have added too much thickness. iPhone 2 anyone?
  7. iChat. One glaring omission in all the iPhone hoopla was iChat. Steve took the time to demo SMS (which looked like iChat) but where was Apple's venerable chat client?
  8. Front facing camera. Although I don't really care about the 2MP camera on the back of the camera, I was disappointing that there wasn't a camera on the front. It would be perfect for video chatting (see #7), which although limited by the iPhone's lack of 3G (see #6), would work great over WiFi.
  9. Calendar Data input. Just like on the iPod, the calendar is read-only and must be synced from a Mac. iPhone has a keyboard, why doesn't Apple make the calendar accept input? Update: In his NYT blog David Pogue notes: "Calendar program isn’t finished yet, but I did see an "add new event" icon on the placeholder graphic." It appears that Apple is moving toward allowing real data entry into the iPhone (at least in the calendar app.) Let's hope that they do the same thing for both Address Book and iTunes.
  10. Over The Air (OTA) downloads from the iTunes Store. It stands to reason that Apple would want to sell music over the air (why wouldn't they?) but I've heard that it's a contractual limitation. Apple has to amend their agreements with all of the labels to allows for OTA distribution.
  11. Wireless syncing. iPhone can only be synced with a cable and can't be synced via WiFi or Bluetooth. This is unacceptable. iPhone has three radios and should be able to be synced with all three. WiFi and BT minimally, then OTA to Dot-Mac for bonus points.
  12. Office support. The early word is that iPhone won't be able to open Word and Excel documents (although it will be able to open PDF). I hope that this will change and by launch and iPhone will support iWork '07 mobile, which in turn, will open Word and Excel files.
  13. Microsoft Exchange support. This is not a big deal for me, but it will be for enterprise customers. Without it, Apple can't hope to unseat the cult of BlackBerry.
What are your beefs with the iPhone? Chime in in the TalkBack below.

Topic: iPhone

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150 comments
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  • So now ask yourself why you want an iPhone?

    All the advantages of the iPhone have been available in products that have been on the market for years. Touchscreen buttons? Done. Mobile media players? Done. Internet communicators? Done. In fact, if you want the iPhone [b]today[/b], you can download a skin for your Windows Mobile device... [b]today[/b].

    So now you need to ask yourself why you are willing to pay extra for the privilege of getting 2 year old technology with 5 year old restrictions on it!

    I do agree with your assessment that the iPhone will sell well though. There are, what 30 million Mac owners out there? I suspect the iPhone will sell about 30 million units/year. Why per year? Because that is how often the battery will wear out!! :)
    NonZealot
    • You are right about the features...

      Being available in other phones, but they currently are not available in any single phone.

      That being said, I am a Mac owner and I wont be getting an iPhone until it does the following.

      1) Available for TMobile or some other non Cingular carrier
      2) Voice dialing is a must.
      3) Syncing Calendar/Contact/Notes with Outlook/Exchange
      4) Bluetooth/WIFi must support file level transfers

      My current PDA/Phone can support the above.
      Note cost of Phone+PDA < iPhone
      mrlinux
      • All available in 1 device

        [i]You are right about the features... Being available in other phones, but they currently are not available in any single phone.[/i]

        Not only are all these features available in 1 phone, there are many phones to choose from that have all these features? From Nokia to HP to Dell to O2, all are cell phones, media players, and internet communication devices. Most are available with full touchscreens (skinnable too!) and they come with browsers that have far fewer restrictions on them than the crippled version of Safari that will come with the iPhone. The really sad thing is that, after you spend $600 on your iPhone, if you don't like how some of the software works, tough luck, Jobs knows best and you are stuck. I don't really like IE on my PocketPC but, unlike the iPhone, I can do something about it by installing Opera.
        NonZealot
        • Name 1 phone with model number

          NT
          mrlinux
          • Here is your 1 phone

            Cingular 8525 - and there are plenty others.
            fmg9800
          • 8525 doesnt match...

            Here is a list of features it's missing
            1) It has more than 1 Button
            2) No 4gb Internal Storage
            3) It has a hardware based keyboard
            4) 1 Hour less talk time.
            Try again.
            mrlinux
          • Nice list of requirements!

            [i]1) It has more than 1 Button[/i]

            So? It actually has the [b]right[/b] buttons on it. I [b]want[/b] tactile feedback on Navigation and Enter. The rest of the buttons are skinnable, just like the precious iPhone. This "requirement" is as stupid as me saying: I want a keyboard but it must [b]not[/b] have a Windows key on it!!!!11!11!!1onee11!!

            [i]2) No 4gb Internal Storage[/i]

            Hmm, I guess you missed this line: Micro SD expansion slot for greater storage and expansion

            [i]3) It has a hardware based keyboard[/i]

            Again, a very good thing if you want it. However, as is common in the Microsoft (and a foreign concept to all Apple zealots), you can buy thinner phones that don't have hardware keyboards.

            Here, let me help make things easier on everyone and restate your requirements in a more concise way:
            1) Must be an Apple iPhone

            There, now we can all give you the answer you are looking for:
            1) GET THE APPLE IPHONE!!!1!!1!1ONE1!111 IT IS SO AWESOME AND THE COMPETITION IS SO BAD BECAUSE THE APPLE IPHONE IS THE ONLY PHONE THAT MATCHES YOUR SPECIFICATIONS!!!! NONE OF THE OTHER PHONES EVEN COME CLOSE TO FULFILLING YOUR NEEDS!!11!!1
            NonZealot
      • Ok.. So it's not an Apple branded phone..

        [b]1) Available for TMobile or some other non Cingular carrier
        2) Voice dialing is a must.
        3) Syncing Calendar/Contact/Notes with Outlook/Exchange
        4) Bluetooth/WIFi must support file level transfers[/b]

        Check out the Motorola A1200 MING phone.

        1.) DONE - it's a GSM phone and will work with T-Mo or Cingular out of the box. Sorry, It won't work with Verizon or Sprint.
        2.) It works fairly well. Not perfect, but it does work.
        3.) Syncs with Outlook via Motorola Phone Tools. And yes, you can connect it to Exchange - provided Exchange is configured properly.
        4.) Bluetooth file transfers work rather nicely.

        The price varies from about $300 to $600 depending on where you go.

        Oh.. And the OS - Linux.
        Wolfie2K3
        • I like the looks of the phone...

          Except it isnt available in the US.
          mrlinux
    • The bottom line really

      is whether or not they will sell. And I agree, they will sell.

      I won't buy a first generation iPhone, first because it's not worth the price for the features you are getting (as you say, most are available elsewhere), and second because as this article illustrates there are too many missing features for a phone this pricy. But I'll keep an eye on it. I imagine the first wave of customer complaints will go a long way in pushing Apple into making it a more capable device. People aren't going to buy a new computer and/or software just for a phone, so Apple needs to make sure the phone has plenty of interoperability.
      Michael Kelly
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    • Please recommend something that will work - see my requirements

      1. GSM. I have a Cingular account and I want to be able to buy it and put my SIM card in it and be done.

      2. Full QWERTY keyboard, either virtual or physicsl. I'm hearing-impaired and want to be able to SMS easily while on the go.

      3. Fully working bluetooth. I use BluePhoneElite to get alerts on my screen to tell me when someone is calling or messaging, even if the phone is in my pocket (in case I don't feel/hear the ringer) or on the charger on my bedside table. I also use Bluetooth for transferring files to and from it. I had a PalmOS Treo that met a lot of my requirements but not this one, and since it's so vital to me to get those call alerts, I dumped the Treo. As far as I know Treos still cannot do this.

      4. No Windows Mobile, please. I don't want to use Microsoft products more than I have to; right now all I've got is Office at work (I'm a Mac user) and XP at home (just used on my gaming machine -- otherwise I use my Powerbook). I've heard too many bad things about Windows Mobile from people I know personally that no, it's not an option. Linux would be cool though.

      5. Wifi would be a nice plus. Not absolutely required but I love the idea of going to St. Louis Bread Co/Panera or somewhere else that offers Wifi and doing full-speed websurfing, like the iPhone will offer.

      6. Must be operable on GSM networks in the US. I've come across a few phones that meet my requirements only to find they work on European GSM networks but not ours due to different frequencies. Why not? My Razr is a worldphone that works anywhere. Actually, make this "should be a worldphone" as I'd like to go to a few other countries, and take it with me.

      7. Must be syncable with a Mac either directly via iSync or via thirdparty software, for contacts and calendar, etc.

      8. Must have an IM client or have the ability to add one. I do have an SMS plan but I'd like to also have the option of getting a data plan and using that, if I choose to.

      Looks like it's quite likely that the iPhone will be able to do all this. So that's why I want an iPhone. And I'm not a business user so I don't care about Exchange -- I use Gmail Hosted for my personal domain and I can use either the webmail or POP3 access until Gmail offers IMAP, so Exchange can molder in the closet for all I care.

      Please, suggest something for me. I'd prefer something that's available now that I can use until the iPhone comes out and then decide if I want to buy one or not.
      buran
      • Check out the BlackBerry Pearl.

        Fits every requirement with the exception of the full qwerty keyboard. But the keys are larger and it includes SureType to automatically complete the word for you (less typing).

        Oh, and it has VoiceDial so you can use it safely while driving.

        I have one. Love it. Waiting on the first iPhone release to check it out (to see ALL the features that will be on it and not just those that were there when Jobs wanted to announce it) but will probably wait for RevII of the iPhone.
        nomorems
        • Thanks - not quite usable though

          Thanks -- I looked into it. Unfortunately even though it has Bluetooth it will not work with the SMS feature of BluePhoneElite 2 according to mirasoftware.com, and that's one of the other features I use the most. If only that feature worked (I can't buy based on a "might be fixed in the future" comment like I saw elsewhere). It doesn't have Wifi either but that wouldn't be a total deal killer.

          In fact, ALL of the Blackberry phones apparently don't work with BluePhoneElite.

          Anyone have any more ideas?
          buran
    • Blah Blah Blah

      Are you saying that usability is the same or that they look the same therefore they
      are the same? What a hump. Show me examples of how the usability of the phones
      are the same? As usual you compare grains of sand to the desert & say they are the
      same. Quick call me a zealot. That seems to be your usual mode of operation.
      Windows mobile device...talk about crippleware. Wow a skin for your mobile
      device...that will make the interaction with the windows mobile device just like the
      iPhone. What an ass. Oh please great one tell us what to buy. Teach us how to talk
      out of our collective asses. Than we can be just like you.
      SquishyParts
      • How True

        He probably ran around telling everyone, "It's just like a Mac!" when windows 95
        came out. Yeah, he's always an ass, always the first to bash anything Mac on these
        blogs no matter what. Idiot.
        dolph0291
    • Beyond Mac Users

      I'm not an Mac user. I have no desire to own a mac. I don't own an iPod, and didn't think they were acceptable DAPs until this fall when they finally added support for gapless playback (it's about ******* time!).

      That said, I think this phone looks great. I'm a sprint user, and slow data aside, the forums are filled with people who love what htey saw. Some are even discussing switching to Cingular (most are not).

      Here's what the other phones don't have: an Ipod, a huge screen on a fairly standard sized phone (it's slightly wider than my sanyo 7400 and slightly longer (about 1/4") than that phone if you count the nub of the antenna sticking out.

      Maybe other carriers have phones that are close, but I've not seen them. Can those other phones play back 8gb of music? Can it do it without gaps betweensongs (possible, since WMP on Xp can do that, as can most software music players).

      The slow 2.5g data is crap, but in fairness, most Cingular customers don't have access to 3g anyway.

      Your batter comment is somehwat flip, but it does raise the question of whether or not the battery is easilly replaced by the user (like all other phones) or like the iPod (and most Daps that I've used).
      notsofast
  • So now ask yourself why you are panning a product that is not yet released?

    ????????????

    What, products never improve before release? Guess it's good that people are giving Apple feedback; but my guess is they have LOTS more planned for this Apple Phone before it is ever sold.
    nomorems
    • Your post gives insight into the Apple zealot brain

      Listing features that you believe are missing from an Apple product is "panning a product"?

      So Jason, the Apple zealots have spoken: why do you hate Apple so much?
      NonZealot
    • I'm panning it because I want it to change

      Most of the items on my list come from features and specs discussed by either Steve Jobs himself, or a senior level VPs at Apple (the only people that have really used them other than Pogue and Snell)... Sure things can change a lot in six months -- that's *exactly* why I wrote this piece!

      - Jason
      Jason D. O'Grady