My Wishes For iPhone OS 4.0

Rumors are flying about potential announcements Apple will make during their invitation only event this week. While many of these rumors center on the proposed Apple tablet device, there are other indications that the announcement will also include an update to the Apple iPhone OS that is used on the iPhone, iPod Touch, and if rumors are correct the tablet.

As an owner of an iPhone 3G and iPhone 3GS as well as several iPod Touch devices, I am eagerly awaiting the newest version of the iPhone OS. When Apple introduced iPhone OS 3.0 I was ecstatic.

When the iPhone 3G was released, the operating system had some challenges that severely impacted the usefulness of the device. The battery drain was excruciating and it was a struggle to hold and maintain a signal in some areas.

The update to the iPhone OS cleared up a lot of these issues and enabled the devices to become much more useful. We are now currently on version 3.1.2 meaning there have been some minor changes. Some of these changes have been welcomed while others introduced new issues that iPhone users have had to live with.

While Apple has never asked for my input, I would be happy to provide them with a wish list of items that I’d love to see them build into the next version of the OS.

iPhone 3GS Battery Usage
. I bought an iPhone 3G on the first day it was available. For those first few weeks I really questioned my sanity. The battery would dramatically drain throughout the day requiring a charge during the day if I wanted to use the device for longer than a few hours.

iPhone OS 3.0 solved most of those issues. When I upgraded to an iPhone 3GS I was shocked to find my battery woes had returned to nearly the same level I had with the iPhone 3G at introduction. Apple engineers in conjunction with AT&T needs to figure out what is causing such a drain on the 3GS and resolve it. There must be a way to better manage energy usage to allow a user to use the phone for longer than a few short hours between charges and turning off the 3G network or not using applications cannot be the answer.

Multi-Tasking Applications
. To be honest this one is really not high on my priority list. Given the aforementioned battery issues adding multi-tasking to applications may not be possible and I would rather have longer battery life than have multiple applications running.

That being said, I realize multi-tasking is necessary to be competitive in the smart phone market. Google has implemented this feature in their Android product so Apple will need to offer something similar. The key to multi-tasking is to have an appropriate algorithm that can manage potential runaway apps that could jeopardize the user experience.

Better Bluetooth Connectivity. Apple recently added the ability to connect wireless headphones to the iPhone using a Bluetooth connection. When it first was released it worked well with my motorcycle headphones. During subsequent OS updates, Apple broke that capability.

The level of regression testing needs to be better at Apple so that they don’t break functionality when they update. With more and more emphasis being placed on eliminating the wires, Apple needs to provide a more robust toolset within the OS to support Bluetooth functionality not just for headphones but also headsets.

Ability to Change Text Messaging Sounds. This is one of those things that leave you scratching your head wondering what Apple engineers were thinking. The iPhone supports custom ring tones for incoming calls but the user is limited to the six sounds that are included on the phone for text messages.

Nearly every cellular phone on the planet supports custom sounds to be used for receiving text messages; the iPhone is not one of those. This is such a simple change that you have to wonder why it was never supported in the first place.

There are documented hacks that will allow users to replace one of the six sounds with a custom sound but these hacks require the user to “jailbreak” the phone. iPhone OS 4.0 should at a minimum allow the user to set a global sound to all text messages.

If Apple really wants to impress the customer base, let the user set a sound on a per user basis to provide audio queues of who is trying to contact them.

Make Communications Contact Centered. With the iPhone I will get communications via several different ways from the same person. I might receive a phone call, a text message, a photo message, a Twitter message, or an email all from the same person.

It would be extremely beneficial if I could look at a user’s contact information and see all the communications I have had with them regardless of the medium. I understand this may not be a trivial task but it would extremely useful to consolidate all of the data in one place.

Apple took the first step when they introduced Spotlight search capabilities on the iPhone but a user should not have to go to the search function to find all the information about a recipient. Make the interface more user centralized.

These are just a few things that come to mind, I am sure I could come up with additional examples of features or functions that would be helpful in the iPhone OS 4.0. These are not complaints, they are helpful suggestions of ways to endure this device to the hearts of the users.

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