I've been keeping a little crib sheet of all the features that I'd like to see in the next-generation iPhone since it came out in 2007. I've been updating my list a lot since the iPhone 3GS came out and most recently with all the improvements that have been coming to Android.
I last posted my iPhone hardware and software wishlists here almost two years ago, in March 2008, so they're due for an update. I recommend that you also read TUAW's excellent iPhone 4.0 wish list, which includes many sorely-needed features, including:
- a new lock screen
- a new home screen
- vertical swiping
- better app navigation
Here's my wishlist of new features that I'd like to see on the iPhone 4G (or whatever you want to call it), roughly in the order that I'd like to see them.
- A unified email inbox to consolidate and read all of my email accounts in one place, like Mail.app has on the desktop. This sure beats the several clicks that it takes to get into and out of IMAP accounts on the iPhone.
- Over-The-Air (OTA) syncing of music, podcasts, etc. I want my iPhone to sync with my MacBook Pro as soon as they're both on the same WiFi network, according to a set of rules. Currently the iPhone can only sync email and contacts/calendar OTA and only if you have a $99/yr. subscription to MobileMe.
- Google Maps Navigation. Navigation is a defining piece of code on the Droid because it's excellent, Internet connected and free. Google Maps Navigation eliminates the need for a dedicated Personal Navigation Device (PND) for many people, saving money (and dashboard space.) (Droid feature)
- System-wide voice search, not just in the Google and Bing apps. Roll Voice Control into Spotlight and give developers access to all of the voice APIs and encourage them to use them.
- System-wide voice control. The current implementation of voice control on the iPhone 3GS can only be used to call contacts and play music. Like search, voice control needs to be system-wide so that I can say things like, "find the last email from Rob" or "What appointments do I have today?"
- System-wide voice recognition/transcription integrated it into all apps. This would allow the dictation of email and messages and would be huge for productivity and has safety implications for drivers. Apple use it's $20B war chest to acquire Nuance, developer of the technology behind Dragon, the undisputed champion in the space.
- System-wide text-to-speech so that the iPhone can read email, messages and tweets, out loud. Voice and text-to-speech are killer features that bring a completely new level of functionality to devices.
- Status bar/better notifications. Currently you can only see the last message that you received. Notifications need to have persistence and a way to mark them as unread. Even Mac OS X on the desktop is lacking in the notification department. Apple would do well to implement a menu bar on the iPhone.
- Widgets. Don't limit home screens to static icons. Apple has already hinted that they can do more with iPhone icons as the Calendar icon's date changes every 24 hours. Apple should allow several sizes of live widgets to live on iPhone home screens.
- HD video recording and playback. Maybe 2010 will be the year of HD? Hopefully higher-resolution screens (like the one in Droid) come to the iPhone and bring HD playback and recording with them.
- Multitasking. Nothing is worse than having to close down a Pandora stream or live MLB game to check your messages. The iPod app can run in the background and its high time that Apple allowed third-party apps to run in the background too.
- Skins/themes. Goes without saying.
- Better keyboard with easier access to numbers. The iPhone keyboard is difficult to access numbers on, making entering things like passwords a pain. A better keyboard with wider keys and one-touch numbers would be a welcome addition, especially in the era of stronger passwords.
- Wireless syncing of everything over Wi-Fi. The iPhone needs transparent OTA discovery and sync with other Macs in my home and office. And I'm not talking about syncing over the Internet, which Apple offers with its $99 MobileMe subscription. I want my iPhone to sync with my MacBook as soon as it joins my wireless network based on a prescribed set of rules.
- Full email searching, including the body of the email.
What are your must-have new iPhone features?