11 ways the next iPhone can be improved


It’s easy to say you’re disappointed by something, not so easy to offer up solutions or improvements which requires more thought, effort and risk. iOS6 launched today and having played around with an earlier version, the latest release and having read about all the iPhone 5 has to offer, here are some things i’d like to see in the iPhone 5S & beyond…

Firstly, i’d like to see things like NFC and wireless charging but realise that for various reasons (mainly cost) it may not be practical and introducing those features in to the iPhone would mean rolling them out across all devices or certainly more than just the iPhone itself. So i’ll assume Apple plan on introducing them but haven’t quite figured out when and how best to roll them out. This a list of 11 things i know are achievable / do-able in the immediate future (many of them simple software updates).

1. Fingerprint Verification

iPhone Fingerprints
The more i think about this, the more i want it. It just makes complete sense. It removes the need to remember passwords, speeds up authentication and is more secure anyway. Want to buy an app? Place your finger on the screen or on the home button and you’re good to go. Same for unlocking the phone. This makes even more sense when it comes to NFC & potentially buying stuff in shops. You can’t have a swipe & buy situation without some kind of ‘are you sure’ message to seek confirmation so a fingerprint scanner would again make this really easy and really secure. We know that Apple are buying a security company that specialise in fingerprint scanning so this stuff isn’t fantasy.

2. Flip to silence

This is a blatent copycat feature from HTC but it’s pretty useful to silence alarms in bed or silence phone calls on an office desk. It means you can silence alerts without needing to look at the screen. You can of course just hit the lock button at the top of the iPhone to do this but the option to silence the phone based on it’s movement would be a nice option to have. Finding that button at the top isn’t always easy if you’re only just awake and your phone is sitting upside down or beside remote controls and other similar-to-touch objects. Flipping it over could also activate the new ‘do not disturb’ feature in iOS 6.

3. Close all open apps with one action

When i first got my iPhone, this was the first ‘problem’ i discovered and i noticed almost immediately. In windows, we’re trained to close a program by clicking on ‘x’. On an iPhone it doesn’t work that way. You’re not encouraged to close apps. Closing apps is a difficult process. This wasn’t really a problem until Apple started introducing multitasking apps i.e. Skype.

If you open skype and don’t close it, it eats up battery life, plus you may leave yourself unknowingly signed in. Typically i never want to just close one app, i want to close all apps. It makes complete sense in my mind to introduce a ‘close all apps’ feature where perhaps all apps could be closed by clicking the home button 3 times or else introduce a ‘close all apps’ icon to the task manager.

4. Double Battery Life

I wouldn’t mind seeing the iPhone increase in weight or dimensions if it meant doubling battery life or something along those lines. I think it would be worth it. Battery life is more important than ever and i don’t think it’s good enough that the iPhone 4, 4s and iPhone 5 all have pretty much the same battery life. Yes the specs have increased dramatically but a phone is no good to anyone if it can’t make it through the day without needing to be charged. We’re using our phones more, we’re only going to continue to use them more so it makes sense to prioritise battery life, even if it does mean getting heavier. I think most people would accept & welcome it. I deliberately don’t use my iPhone as an iPod simply because i feel it would drain my battery. I know i’m not alone.

5. Death to vertical video

This is a really simple change that could be introduced (even i could probably introduce it!) and might seem trivial but it’s genuinely frustrating seeing vertical videos on youtube. By preventing users from recording in vertical format (simply with a message or reminder on screen), Apple would do the world a big favour. It’s mind boggling to think they feel it’s acceptable to allow people to record in portrait format… it’s fine for playback on a phone but nobody records video with the intention of playing it back only on phones.

6. Native Flashlight

There are loads of apps which do this but like every other popular app feature, i think Apple should take this in house and integrate it by default in to the iPhone. Ideally, pressing or holding down a button (perhaps camera buttons) when the phone is locked would enable the flashlight. I know it’s not a proper flashlight, nor is it intended to be used for extended periods of time but they could place a timeout on it. I know i’d use a flashlight app much more if i could access it quickly (with a button press). It’s also an incredibly useful feature; perhaps the most useful feature that was never designed to be a feature at all.

7. Unlimited Apps in Folders

Now that the iPhone 5 is longer than the rest, the fact we’re still restricted to just 12 apps per folder is just silly. Allow unlimited apps per folder (or at least raise the limit to 48 or something significant) and / or introduce folders within folders along with the proposed ‘browse by letter’ feature below…

8. Browse apps by letter

Folders are great for organising apps but if you’re like me, you’ll have loads of folders and still not remember where everything is. The ability to browse apps by alphabet would be a nice touch. At the minute, ‘search’ does a good job of finding apps but you need to know what you’re searching for in order to find it. I’d like a better ‘browse’ option.

9. Multiple User Accounts

Ever have somebody want to play with your iPad or iPhone? Sure you have. The problem with that is you’re basically handing over access to all of your messages, emails, social media conversations & photos. That’s all hugely private stuff and potentially damaging should someone decide to post something without your permission. A simple ‘guest’ account with limited access would help solve that problem and put the owner’s mind at ease.

Years ago, if somebody asked could they make a call, the only thing you were worried about was the bill or your credit. Now, you’ve got a whole lot more to worry about. So much so, you almost have to follow the person around to make sure they are indeed on a call and not up to anything malicious. That or you must *really* trust them.

10. Better Alarm Clock

alarm app
I use the alarm feature every day. I’m frustrated with it every day. But I know exactly how it *should* work. Sleep is very important to me and i always say the hardest thing i have to do every day is wake up. I always want just one more hour, no matter how much or how little sleep i get. Once i’m awake, i never want to go back to sleep and could easily stay up until the late hours of the morning until i simply burn out. My alarm is usually set every day at the same time in a bid to force myself in to some kind of pattern. I set about 10 alarms all to go off within a few minutes of each other. That amount, combined with snooze presses ensures that i’m *always* awake within about half an hour of that first alarm going off. If Apple asked me to develop a new alarm app, here’s some immediate changes i’d make:

  • You should be able to set multiple alarm ‘schedules’ (i.e. 8am Monday-Friday, 10am Saturday-Sunday). Let’s call that alarm schedule ‘Normal Work Week’.
  • You should be able to create other alarm schedules with the same parameters but name them whatever you want i.e. ‘Summer Holidays’, ‘Christmas’, ‘Shift Work Week’.
  • You should be able to add ‘exceptions’ i.e. bank holidays, sick days etc…
  • You should be able to repeat an alarm so that it goes off every ‘x’ minutes until you’ve disabled it (not just cancelled it to stop the noise but disabled it).
  • If after ‘x’ snooze presses, alarms are still enabled, the alarm tone should change in a bid to mix it up and change tactic to get you out of bed. It should also be louder & vibrate longer (knowing it would get louder after ‘x’ snooze presses would serve as a threat and probably make me more likely to get up before it reaches max volume).
  • On the lock screen, you should see a ‘time left until next alarm’ countdown.

*that’s* what you call an alarm app. Not the trash we have at present. The alarm app is really important and i feel Apple have neglected it and undervalued it. This should not be left to third parties either because it’s too important. It’s just as important as the calendar or reminder apps, both of which Apple have spend a lot of time improving over the years.

11. Change Default Browser

I’ve gotten used to a lot of Apple stuff. Two things I never use are iTunes for the desktop & Safari (on any device). It’s Chrome all the way for me, ever since they launched an iOS app. The problem with that though is that you can’t set Chrome (or anything else) as your default browser on iOS. That means for example that if you browse Facebook or Twitter and want to open a link, you can only do so with Safari. Quite simply, that sucks. It’s the same as Microsoft using Internet Explorer as the default browser – nobody wants it that way and for the benefit of the majority, it makes sense to give users choice and not restrict them to using your inferior products when there’s better stuff out there. Apple do lots of stuff really well but Safari isn’t one of them. The irony of course is Chrome is built on webkit which was developed largely by Apple.

3 thoughts on “11 ways the next iPhone can be improved”

  1. Some good ideas, The alarm clock is definitely something I would love, schedules and the annoying feaure to make you actually get out of bed, something that is impossible in the morning!

  2. I want Apple to follow Samsung. Have a 5″ screen, expandable SD card memory capability, easy to swap rechargeable battery.

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