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What the iPhone Needs

The rumours are starting to fly around now with the expectation that the next model iPhone will be released at WWDC this year (about a week away). I have used an iPhone for about a year now and have also set up and used various competitors (such as the Blackberry) and the iPhone is brilliant, but what could Apple possibly do to make it better?

Well, as good as the iPhone is, there is still a lot that could be done to make it better. Some of the issues will be addressed in the next version of the operating system and will be available to existing users but others require hardware additions or modifications so a new phone will be necessary.

The first software update I want to see is tethering (the ability to use the phone as a modem to connect a computer to the cell network). This has always been possible through a hack but was probably left out by Apple to keep the cell service providers happy. I think there will be an additional charge to use this service but its important to have it anyway. Sure, you can do a lot on the phone which would normally require a computer but sometimes you really do want the computer on the Internet in a location away from wireless and tethering is the best way to do it.

It seems strange that a powerful phone with a camera can’t do video and this will certainly be added in the next OS update. I used this very rarely on other phones but its still nice to know its there when you need it, so that will be a welcome addition.

The iPhone OS is built on Mac OS X which has great multitasking so its annoying that the phone only runs one program at a time. Its well known that this is mainly a battery life (but also a memory saving and stability enhancing) issue so Apple’s solution of a background notification server might be a good alternative to true multitasking. I guess we will only know after the new service has been used for a while.

Better functionality for SMS (text messages) and added support for MMS (multimedia messages) will be available in the new OS too. Again this is a feature I used very little in other phones but it should be there and the new implementation looks really nice.

So what about new hardware additions which will require the new model of the phone instead of just an OS update?

A digital compass seems to be an almost certain addition. This might not sound that important because why would you need to know which direction is north, but in conjunction with the GPS it could be really useful. If the phone knows where it is and what direction it is pointing it can identify objects its being pointed at. This would also enhance the GPS spoken direction option which is likely to be available.

Making the phone quad band would be valuable to anyone who cannot access some parts of their local 3G network because it runs on the wrong frequency. The coverage here in New Zealand is bad enough without losing access to half the cell sites because the phone can’t use them.

There have been some indicators that the new phone might support video chat and that would require a forward facing camera. This is a bit less certain and again might not get used much but it is a feature many other phones have so it should really be there in the new iPhone.

The current screen is very nice: bright and highly detailed, but if Apple wanted to use an OLED screen instead I’m sure I wouldn’t complain!

The current camera is fairly poor although its still better than most other cell phones I have used. So it will be useful when Apple put a better camera in the new phone (more pixels and an autofocus mechanism) and it looks like the OS will enhance the quality of the current camera as well.

If there is an FM transmitter built in that will be welcome to many people who want to send music to their radios but I doubt whether I would use that feature myself. I think that one is less likely as well.

You can never have too much memory and storage so increasing the available memory and increasing the capacity up to 32G will be a good move. On the other hand I know many people who don’t use the phone for music and don’t have any extra apps so smaller capacity models at a lower price also make sense.

Anyway, summing all that up, here’s what I would want in the new phone (without being totally unreasonable): more memory, more storage (32G), quad band, a digital compass, a front facing camera, video chat, MMS, video recording, a much better autofocus camera, background notifications, turn by turn GPS, voice dialing, and Flash support.

Give me all that Apple and I will be very tempted to upgrade, even before the two year contract on my current phone is finished!

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