iOS 7 is almost ready for release, and the next model (likely models) of iPhone is thought to be in production. Most pundits have discussed expected changes to the next generation of Apple’s smartphone, from the obvious (thinner, lighter, better battery life) to the suspect (fingerprint sensor). The iPhone 5 is already as thin and light as I could have envisioned a smartphone being, but incremental improvements are always welcome. I much prefer the aluminum construction over the plastic bodies of most Android handsets (and the rumored iPhone 5c, the suspected “bargain” model) and wouldn’t want Apple to adopt the massive screen sizes of some of their competitors. So if you could have a say in product development, what would YOU want to see?
My personal wish list is divided up between hardware and software changes. The iPhone’s physical form hasn’t changed dramatically since the very first model. Sure, it’s gotten thinner, lighter, more angular, and been through a few casing types (from plastic to glass to the current aluminum), but when you get it right there’s no need to mess with a good thing. I wouldn’t object to a fingerprint sensor to take the place of the numerical safety lock, but would prefer it to be hidden somehow inside the home key or be a part of the screen rather than a separate port elsewhere on the device. Manufacturers of Windows laptops have employed the fingerprint sensor for some time, but the small scan bar they use would be awkward placed on the edge of a phone.
I personally have no use for NFC (near field communication, the short range radio that some Android handsets use for their tap-the-phones-together-to-send-things feature), and I suspect Apple isn’t enamored with the technology either as they will be bringing AirDrop (the super easy OSX file sharing system) to iOS. Unlike NFC, I would like Apple to adopt one hardware feature it’s competitors sometimes provide- an IR blaster. All of Apple’s computers can sense infrared controllers (the diminutive Apple TV controller operates via infrared light), so including it in the iPhone would allow users a way to remotely control some functions of all their other devices, and potentially a wide range of other devices as well. Who wouldn’t like to be able to use their iPhone (or iPod Touch) as a programmable media center remote, capable of controlling everything from iTunes to your cable or satellite receiver?
Some have complained of the lack of ports on iOS devices, like a video out port. Apple’s answer has been AirPlay; the ability to mirror the screen of your device on the Apple TV. The technology works well, but could always be improved. Latency makes some game play a little laggy, and I’d love to see the ability to have different images displayed on the device and the “push” screen, much as OSX devices will be able to use an Apple TV as a second wireless monitor.
As for software, iOS 7 will offer some huge improvements I’ve been wanting for a while. Topping the list is a quick and easy way of accessing some of the device’s controls, like wifi and bluetooth. While the improvements in iOS 7 are numerous, there are still some features or tweaks I’d love to see added.
Topping the list would be some control of the app icons. Simply being able to increase the size of an icon to two or four spaces would proved enough screen to allow it to show some information beyond the small number icon in the upper right corner apps show currently. The photos app icon could be made to be a constantly changing slide show, the weather app could show trending information like up to date temperatures, chance of rain, or weather alerts. The possibilities are wide should developers have the opportunity to include such tech in their apps.
Facetime has been a great feature, but it could be more. When first introduced Steve Jobs stated he wanted to make it an industry standard, and I think that’s a great idea. Unfortunately, it’ll never be more than an Apple-only feature until they allow third party access to the technology. It should be opened to other developers and devices, and broadened to include iMessage, voice, and file transfer a la AirDrop. All communication coming from and going into the iPhone is data, so why should your carrier’s voice and text data be different than the data package you buy? It’s time to reform how we buy service to an a la carte bandwidth model; those that don’t talk much (I rarely go over 100 minutes in a month but AT&T’s smallest voice plan is 550 minutes) should be able to use that bandwidth for other purposes.
The upcoming integration between the iPhone and some automobiles is also a welcome change. I have GPS and voice control built into my Hyundai, but it pales in comparison to what my phone provides. Being able to combine AirPlay to push your iPhone’s display to a screen on your dash and remote control via Siri integration or bluetooth control via your car’s existing steering wheel or console would provide you with an incredible array of up to date functionality. You could take your pick of GPS services, from Apple Maps to Google to whatever else you found pleasing from the App Store. Entertainment would be well covered due to the iPhone’s already broad scope of platforms- podcasts, local and streaming music, and audiobooks. Concierge service could also be provided, from suggestions on where the closest or least expensive gas could be found to where to eat (including the ability to quickly make reservations). With the right innovation your iPhone could even provide information about your vehicle, giving more detailed information on problems or warnings, and automatically sending messages or calling the appropriate parties should sensors in the car indicate there was the need.
What would YOU like to see developed or added? Let me know in the comments section!
- I’ve Been Using Apple’s New iPhone Software For Two Days Now, And I Think It’s Great (AAPL) (embargozone.com)
- Will iPhone Light outsell iPhone 5S and iPhone 6? – Know Your Mobile (knowyourmobile.com)
- iPhone 5S and iPhone 6 rumours update (telegraph.co.uk)
- Next iPhone may be able to read fingerprints (pix11.com)
- Polls find users prefer iOS 7 design to iOS 6, fingerprint scanner to replace passwords (9to5mac.com)