Blog Post

What I Want To See In The Next iPhone OS

iPhone 3GSWith Apple (s aapl) 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.

39 Responses to “What I Want To See In The Next iPhone OS”

  1. This is extremely similar to my blog on Suggestions for next iPhone OS.

    I agree that having the ability to change custom message tone is almost mandatory for the next OS, along with a phone call blocker.

    At least check out my blog and perhaps take an idea or two.

  2. the ability to turn off text message preview–check that–keep the preview BUT–do not show phone # from whence it came –keep it simple that show u have a text msg.–that feature has got me in trouble showing the origination number

  3. How about a screen lock so when your laying down it doesn’t flip vertical or landscape automatically. Better battery. My last wish is some insurance but thats highly unlikely.

  4. I really need a more iCal or Entourage like Calendar App! Is Nobody missing the feature Copy&Paste in cal?! I wanne copy an event and Paste it twice or more to create my weekly working shedule. And what about strife the finger Left to right over an Event to delete it?

  5. True iCalendar collaboration. Ie, be able to share notes and calendars with my wife’s iPhone wirelessly and via mobile me. Notes is dire I agree but sharing of information between my iphone, my wifes iphone and even my ipad (when I get it) is critical to keep us addicted to Apple. That’s my wish list.

  6. I want to be able to listen to my voicemails on speakerphone, and then switch to my note-taking application to write down the important notes that the person is giving me on my voicemail! Currently, when you leave the voicemail app, the voicemail STOPS PLAYING. I can’t believe Apple didn’t think of this one.

  7. Dov Phoenix

    Please, please give me the option to turn off horizontal and vertical orientation switching. Also, give me the ability to turn off the text message notification when in locked screen mode.

  8. Lock screen notification needs to provide support for apps to provide there own information as well, which users can, obviously choose to use or not as they see fit

  9. My iphone shows me missed calls and the beginning text of a text message (if I have more than one it just shows who sent them) on the lock screen! But I live in Japan, so maybe it’s a little different here?

    I think trying to add too much info would make it cluttered or kind of hard to read, but obviously giving people the option of what to add would avert that issue.

  10. Andrew Gough

    Stuff to save power. I want to be able to turn off wireless bits and alter brightness without having to bury into the bowels of the settings.

  11. quandmeme

    We are past the age of folders IMO. Jobs is right about that but hasn’t yet arrived at the right fix. I don’t think stacks are the answer, either.

    Now the answer may be found in the fact that we are in the age of search. I think I want tagged application finding. Finding apps should be like finding a contact in the address book but with multiple axes. By name, sure, but also flip a tab and I’m scrolling by category, by context, or maybe by feature.

  12. Martin

    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.

  13. 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…

  14. adam jackson

    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.

  15. 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.

    • 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!

  16. “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…

    • 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).

  17. 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.

  18. 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.