Ten Off-Beat Improvements for the iPhone

It’s been two weeks since the iPhone’s release and, like Dimitri Martin, I like to wait that long before I talk about anything because I enjoy using the word “fortnight.”

A great thing about the iPhone is it’s potential. It’s got some cool stuff, but what will really make this phone a key part of my life are features yet to come. Thankfully (most) of these dream goodies can be done with software.

Over the past fortnight (yes!) I’ve been reading a lot of the same requests: Physical keyboard, GPS, Outlook sync etc. A note to everyone who wants a physical keyboard: You can’t. Sorry. You’d have to make the phone significantly thicker or longer and I don’t want either, so why don’t you go something you’re good at which is chomping knob, okay?

Here are some suggestions for Apple’s iPhone that may be fresh for your eyes.

  1. Cover Flow for Contacts – C’mon, Apple! This one seems obvious! I’ve done my best to give every friend of mine a picture in my contacts list. It would be AWESOME to be able to scroll through contacts in the same way you can flip through album covers. Wouldn’t you love to show of to your drooling iPhone wannahavs how hot all your friends are?
  2. Shutter Button – A lot of phones have buttons on the side which trigger the taking of a picture. This is cool because it gave birth to thousands of BFF-style MySpace photos taken in nightclubs. Though this is hardware, it could be done with software. When the photo app is open, have the sleep button on the top be the shutter button. Done.
  3. iTunes Music Store – This must be a tough feature to implement, because you know Apple wants to put it in. You know it was the first thing on the whiteboard and I can almost hear the staff getting chewed out for not having it ready for the launch.
  4. Notes application – fucking useless. Get rid of it. The only thing I use it for is to show people how the keyboard works. I could do that just as easily with Mail, but Mail sucks in so many ways that Notes wins by default.
  5. Missed Call/New Voicemail light – If you leave your iPhone alone for a while it goes to sleep. I appreciate this power-saving mentality, but it would be nice if there were some sort of low-energy LED that indicated that there was a missed call or voicemail while I was in the shower. As it stands I have to wake up the phone and check it out. That’s just annoying.
  6. Video recording / voice recording – I’m lumping these together because they fall under the category of “oh, even my phone does that”. You mean that free phone you got at the rape crisis center does two major things mine does not? Are you telling me I waited in line with a bunch of douche-nozzel frat boys just to be schooled by your five year old handset?

  7. “delete all mail”
    – this button would be great. You know what would also be great? If Mail wasn’t always trying to automatically get mail when I open the app. I can’t even set it in a pref!
  8. Save Downloads – You can look at pictures, listen to sounds, and watch movies that you download in Safari and Mail, but you’d better keep them loaded because you can’t save them to your iPhone for later perusal. If I listen to an mp3 I’ve downloaded from a web page, I want to be able to send that to the iPod part of the iPhone.
  9. WiFi monitoring app – this could really help you get the ball rolling on all that war driving you’ve been meaning to do.
  10. Drunk Dialing Prevention – Picture it: You’re at a bar. You’ve had a few and you feel the sudden need to reconnect with an ex. You fumble with your iPhone and begin to scroll through the contacts list. The motions sensors in the iPhone detect all the wobbling you’re doing and it suspects you’re drunk and in no condition to wisely choose who to call. I confirms this with a basic motor skills coordination test it pops up on the screen where you have to hit a series of moving dots. You fail and the iPhone instead calls the contact you have labeled as “Taxi,” saving you from both death and the embarrassment of a “we… we were good together, weren’t we?” speech.

Join the Conversation


  1. C an I just propose a proposal? This es exactly what’s wrong with Aple’s design philosophy. When a designer sits down to think of exactly what a user wants, the desinger consigns the user to exactly what his idea of cool is. This is awesome for a video game or a movie. But for a piece of software — for an OPERATION system — this sucks. I don’t want awesome out of the box. I want the raw materials to make my own kind of awesome. Coverflow for contacts, go fuck yourslef. You can sit around and wait for apple to come up with it, and that’s that.

    Let me put it another way. Can you thin of any other piece of machine like the iPod that has had the kind of market penetration iPod has enjoyed but is without user-added tweaks and improvements? Liek browsers — computers are connected to theinnerwebs, and firefox plus plugins lets me design my own experience. But iPod? Go fuck yourslef. I can have Apple’s crappy-=ass side-scrolling menu system that decides for me what ‘s important or nothing. Am I sutck with iTunes now? Yep. Thanks, winamp, for the uber-[sucky version 2.

    Anyway, there are my thoughts. On the comptuer screen.

  2. Sorry, but your comment has been flagged by the spam filter running on this blog: this might be an error, in which case all apologies. Your comment will be presented to the blog admin who will be able to restore it immediately.
    You may want to contact the blog admin via e-mail to notify him.


  3. 11. pirate radio

    12. Inspector Gadget style rotor blade compartment

    13. “tinfoil hat” boss button to instantly jam alien radar

    14. visual database of all London prostitutes mapped to their locations, and including essential vitals like breast size and disease history

    15. as concession to Japanese for not including 3G, a compartment to store wasabi, grated ginger, and a small container of tamari sauce

    16. software to simulate the chat style of an attractive girl aged 17 years 364 days, in order to catch friends in zany sexual predator sting

    17. radar detector

    18. two words. more. bling. the thing should be faux leather decked out in fool’s gold and cubic zirconia.

    19. Ghostbusters style ghost trap

    20. bulletproof, wish it was

  4. About the Spam… The “filter” have now essentially holds every comment for moderation. If I’m away from the computer for a while (like I was this weekend) it means your comments could be in limbo for a couple of days.

  5. Tis better to have posted a comment and lost it than never to have posted a comment a’tall, in bed, with liberty and justice for all, inspired hath in every holt and heth, and I don’t know what they call a whopper, motherfucker, because I didn’t go into Burger King, and the horse you rode in on.


    *also blocks 100% of other messages

  7. tell it not to block binary coded messages

    from now on i’m going to leave 100% binary encoded text

    starting now


  8. see, that is why i LOVE my blackberry. it has gps, internet, a blinky light and noise when i have a new message/email/voicemail, realtime synced email with my gmail…. the ONLY thing it doesn’t have is a camera phone, dammit. and i don’t care about the mp3s – that is what an ipod is for.

    oh, and for the record, i love Notes

  9. Ah, Lance. Hello, Lance! I got the same wonderful ‘you’re being screened’ crap, too. It’s all good.

    Guy who keeps changing his name, and the horse you rode in on still has me cracking up!! Wow. I-phone, huh? I just bought a new VCR. (No, I’m not joking.) I always wait until these hundreds of dollars things are like $50 and have all their issues worked out. It’s fun hearing you voice your frustration, though. Have fun with that.

    : )

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