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Summary:

The last major update to the iPhone’s operating system arrived last June, bringing with it many desired features. Highlights from the 3.0 update included the long awaited copy and paste, in addition to features such as spotlight search and voice control. But what can we expect from tomorrow’s 4.0 unveiling?

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iPhone 3GSWith Apple due to reveal the next generation of the iPhone operating system this Thursday, now is as good a time as any to discuss what we can hope to see in the upcoming fourth version of the mobile OS. You’ve already seen Patrick’s take, now here’s mine.

The last major update to the iPhone’s operating system arrived last June, bringing with it many desired features. Highlights from the 3.0 update included the long awaited copy and paste, in addition to features such as spotlight search and voice control. But what can we expect from tomorrow’s 4.0 unveiling?

Custom Message Alert Tones

A small request and one that has bugged me ever since I bought my iPhone. I simply want the ability to customize my ringtone for when I receive an SMS. If it can be done for calls, why not for texts? But why stop there? When in a room full of iPhone owning friends, it can often prove annoying to hear the email notification noise every few minutes, let users customize that too. Choice is a beautiful thing.

App Navigation

iPhone users tend to have a lot of applications installed, so it comes as no surprise that these app-addicts want a better way to organize their growing collection of mobile software. Thankfully Apple is aware of the problem and introduced a visual way to organize apps in iTunes 9. However, beyond the occasional iTunes reshuffle, the daily on-device swiping to find that specific app is way past tedious.

Many alternatives have been presented as a solution, including stacking, page overviews, category views, and more. A personal preference would be the introduction of folders. A folder could be presented just like any other application icon, which when pressed dug down into a page of specific apps. For example, a folder containing news applications, with another housing all of a user’s games. This would not only make it easier to find a specific app, it would also offer more breathing space to those more commonly used.

Improve The Lock Screen

A locked iPhone currently provides very little information at-a-glance. Adding information such as today’s calendar events, local weather and any missed calls or messages would offer up a much more useful hub for quick scanning. Of course if Apple were to add all this data to the lock screen it could turn off users who prefer the current minimalist version. A simple section in the device’s settings app could make it easy for users to pick and choose what information is displayed.

Wireless Sync

Picture this: You get home and your iPhone instantly connects to your home networks Wi-Fi, within seconds your iPhone realizes that your MacBook Pro is also connected to the same network. Once a connection is made your device begins to sync all your photos, notes, messages and anything else you choose, straight to your laptop, creating a seamless backup, all of which happens in the background, over the air. Sounds great right? Hope it sounds great to Apple, too.

What do you want to see?

The dream-features detailed above are just a representative selection. Plenty of other requests for the future of the iPhone’s OS have been suggested, some great, others not so much. I’d love to hear about your own feature requests in the comments.

  1. William Robson Wednesday, April 7, 2010

    Flash Plugin and Bluetooth Work with any device !!!!!! Replace battery ….please!

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    1. Apple will never do Flash, they really hate it. I watched it on TV, they blame Flash for most of the crashes on an Apple computer.

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  2. Whatabout quick access to my bluetooth and wifi pref.? What about a lock screen button? What about the possibility to copy/paste and send 2/3/4 photo’s by mail or sms.

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    1. You can already send multiple photos by SMS or Email by going to your album/camera roll, clicking on the icon on the bottom left and then selecting your images. These can then be pasted into Mail or SMS.

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      1. Wow, thanks Sajid – that’s one I was struggling with. Every day’s a school day!

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  3. Custom SMS tones- this is a no-brainer. It’s beyond me why it’s not offered by default on all modern handsets. It’s not hard to implement into an OS. Get on it, Apple.
    App navigation- FINALLY someone other than me realizes that scrolling through screen after screen of apps is primitive as hell. Your proposed navigation is the best I’ve heard.
    Lock screen update- again, a no-brainer. BB and WinMo have offered this functionality for years.
    Wireless sync is SO possible- I was doing it with my Palm TX way back in the day.

    iPhone OS 4 had better be good, or Apple will lose even more users to the Android platform.

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  4. “Over the air” should be the new mantra at Apple. Synching as you suggest, but also remote file access to allow loading of docs on my iPad that happen to be stored my macbook, no crazy emailing or synching required. Also, let me play music from my big iMac harddrive, watch a video in the bedroom stored on the big grey box in the living room. Getting all Apple hardware talking together wirelessly with zero human interaction would in my opinion seal the deal on Apple’s total home ownership. They could then take over the world by making MobileMe free (limited size if they must) and spread that wireless, human interactiveless communication/synching beyond the home and into the cloud.

    Holy cow I need to go take a lie down…

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    1. I think you’re right, Mally. If everything could talk using Bonjour and username/password authentication (perhaps with a bit of additional security) across the same wireless network, sharing files etc, that would be killer. I sometimes wonder why Apple hasn’t already done it – all the pieces are there, it’s just a case of sticking them together.

      And MobileMe probably doesn’t earn them a huge amount of money, or cost them that much – there are enough free sync/online storage services out there (Dropbox, Diino, Evernote etc) that it can’t be prohibitively expensive to run, especially if you limit the amount of data that can be sync’d/stored. Make it seamless and the world is your oyster (or other mollusc of choice).

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  5. Mark all email messages as read. The iphone is my secondary email device so when I pick it up before I head out I would like to mark them as read – because I already read them on my laptop.

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    1. Use IMAP mail instead of POP mail – that way everything you read on your mac is automatically marked as read on your iphone, and vice versa. Likewise anything deleted on one is deleted on the other.

      Gmail is available (in fact now defaults to) IMAP (when downloading to your iPhone and presumably BB etc), most corporate mail servers have IMAP available as an option with little configuration, most free email server applications have IMAP as an option. In fact IMAP has been around since the early 90’s – catch up!

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  6. I think printing is just not gonna happen. The bloat that thousands of print drivers will require space but maybe I’m wrong.

    Multi-tasking but “smart multitasking” is better. Intelligently closing or “pausing” apps by taking them out of memory and writing the current state to the iPhone’s flash storage would be cool. I wish Android did this instead of keeping everything in flash and the phone eventually slowing to a crawl.

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  7. What about tethering? I know there’s a way to ‘hack’ your phone to enable this capability, but we (those of us with AT&T) shouldn’t have to do that. I know this has more to do with your cell phone provider, but still…

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    1. Yeah it’s AT&T’s fault. The iPhone can tether.

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  8. Support for more than on Exchange account.

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  9. RSS reader functionality in mail app with synch option over MobileMe to desktop mail app (over the air, seamless). Weekly view and landscape mode in calendar app. Better iDisk app with synch and download function. “No sleep” option in iPod app if streaming to AirPort Express or remote control of iTunes library on desktop.

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    1. I second that motion. All in favour raise your right hands and say “Aye”.

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  10. Multi-user support!

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