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Top 5 iPhone FAILS

I know that some Hardware 2.0 readers felt that I had succumbed to the dark side when I replaced my trusty Nokia E71 (which still lives on with me ... so it's hardly been replaced) handset with an iPhone 3GS. Overall, I'm pretty impressed with the iPhone but I'm no fanboy, and I'm more than willing to accept that the iPhone, as a work tool, has some serious failings.

I know that some Hardware 2.0 readers felt that I had succumbed to the dark side when I replaced my trusty Nokia E71 (which still lives on with me ... so it's hardly been replaced) handset with an iPhone 3GS. Overall, I'm pretty impressed with the iPhone but I'm no fanboy, and I'm more than willing to accept that the iPhone, as a work tool, has some serious failings.

Let's take a look at some of the iPhone's more serious FAILS:

Battery life

The iPhone's battery life is, in a word, awful. I can start the day with the battery at 100% and by early afternoon it will be around 30%. Compare this to my E71 can easily last several days on a single charge. Now, it's fair to say that I use my iPhone a lot more than I use my E71 because it offers me more features, but since it was designed to do more, I'd also expect the battery to be able to do more too.

I'm willing to accept that at least part of the battery problem is an illusion since you can have the option to display the battery life as a percentage rather than the five or six "bullets" on a typical handset. But even with that taken into consideration, the iPhone runs out of ammo incredibly quickly.

This is a serious weakness that exists at the core of the iPhone platform.

Notifications

Another cornerstone of the iPhone OS is push notifications, where apps can have data pushed to them on a regular basis even when that app isn't running (for example, the Facebook app can pull in info that's been added by your pals).

The problem with push notifications isn't the push part, but the notifications. Modal on-screen dialog boxes are very, very, mid-1990s thinking. I'm pretty sure that the idea was born from the idea that you'd have a limited number of apps having data pushed to them, but as soon as you have a handful, the mechanism becomes unwieldy. The badges on the icons go some way to drawing your attention to where the new updates have gone, but when you have several screens of apps, this too stops being efficient.

At the very least, there needs to be a central location where a list of notifications received is kept. At best, the notifications mechanism needs to be re-done to take into account the ever increasing number of apps that make use of it.

Better data organization

Um, what's wrong with folders and such established methods of organizing data? Seriously. Again, I feel that Apple's list approach to everything was an idea born of thinking that the iPhone would be used in a limited way, with a small amount of data.

Buried settings

Why does it take four or five touches (I can't be bothered counting) to switch Bluetooth on? Then another four of five to switch it off again? Why?

I can understand the design principle that not everyone will need Bluetooth, so hide the setting away from sight, but I don't understand why the user interface doesn't let me create a shortcut to settings that I use regularly.

App Updates

Why oh why oh why do app updates need to pull in the entire app? When apps are a few hundred KBs, or even a few MBs, this is no big deal, but I've had some +100MB pushed to me that seem to consist of nothing more than minor cosmetic updates.

If nothing else, that's a crazy waste of bandwidth.

Conclusion

The iPhone is a good platform, especially if you want to do more with a data connection than surf the web and check your email, but with iPhone OS 4 on the horizon, some core usability and efficiency issues have yet to be addressed. It's time for Apple to either fix some of these issues itself, or open up the platform more in terms of APIs available to developers so they can create add-ons to improve usability.

Thoughts? What are YOUR top iPhone annoyances (or your current handset of choice)? What do YOU wish Apple would fix (or allow third-party developers to address)?