iPhone Fixes We Want to See

The iPhone has been on the street and in our hands for a little more than a month now--time sure flies when you can browse the Internet and get e-mail anywhere. While we've evaluated the iPhone, Apple's mobile device is the sort of product that needs to be revisited every so often. After all, a month from its June 29 release, we're still discovering new tips on what it can and can't do.

So with a month of heavy iPhone use now under belts, we have a better perspective than we did in the waning hours of June 29 on what works with the iPhone--and what doesn't. The Macworld editors have all weighed in with a list of things they'd like to see the iPhone do or, in some cases, do better. While the complete list got rather lengthy--everyone has their own pet causes and peculiar requests, after all--more than a few items kept reappearing on our wish lists. It's these consensus items that appear below--and that will make a great mobile device even better. (We'll tackle our lengthier wish list in depth over at iPhone Central all this week.)

Hardware

A few of our iPhone desires are admittedly out of reach for the current model, as they would require changes to the iPhone's actual hardware.

Add GPS support: We can't say enough good things about the Maps application that helps you easily find locations and driving directions with a few simple taps. Actually, there's one other good thing we hope to say about Maps in a future version of the iPhone--it would be the ultimate mapping application if it knew where you actually were at all times. With wireless access to Google's regularly-updated maps (or the ability to pre-load maps for a region on your iPhone), a GPS-enabled iPhone would be a reasonable alternative to a full-featured GPS receiver for many people.

Go 3G: Many people hoped the first iPhone would feature support for 3G, a wireless technology that offers better network performance than the EDGE network that the iPhone actually uses (though 3G is still slower than Wi-Fi). Apple has said the reason 3G support wasn't included in the first iPhone was that available 3G hardware would have hampered battery life, and that AT&T's current 3G network isn't widely available. AT&T says its 3G coverage is currently limited to 160 metro areas, although the company is expanding that coverage. In contrast, the iPhone's EDGE network is available in most AT&T coverage areas. Still, you can expect to see 3G support in a future iPhone model--and that will improve the phone's wireless capabilities. --Dan Frakes

The Interface

The iPhone's interface is its bread-and-butter, and it's tasty toast at that. But sometimes you run into a piece that just feels half-baked. As cool and a??ooh"-inducing as the iPhone's multi-touch interface is, there are things about it that don't quite feel finished.

Let us select text: Although the iPhone tries to anticipate your text manipulation needs, and provides you with a few ways of shunting information from one app to another, there are times when it's like driving in downtown Boston: You just can't get there from here. Say you want to send an address to a friend from the Maps app, or perform a Google search for a term on a Web page. Maybe you just want to delete a large amount of text quickly. There's no way to do that now--instead of grabbing a block of text, swiping your finger brings up the magnifying loupe. Adding text selection capabilities--along with copy, cut, and paste commands--would fix this problem in a blink.

Add a search tool: Other than the option to use Google or Yahoo in the iPhone's version of Safari, search is simply missing from the iPhone. If you can't quite remember which e-mail message had your friend's phone number in it or which week in October you have a dentist's appointment or the name of the rep for a company you work with, you'll have to spend some time flicking away. The same holds true for Notes. And forget about doing an iPhone-wide search. Either each application need its own search interface or Apple should add a dedicated Spotlight-esque application to the home screen.

Enable multiple selection: Most Mac and Windows users are so accustomed to the ability to select multiple items that it's become second nature. Unfortunately, no such capability exists on the iPhone. While this might be a minor annoyance when it comes to Notes or SMS conversations, it becomes of critical importance in apps like Mail, when you need to deal with the occasional onslaught of spam messages. At best, you can swipe and delete each e-mail, two gestures per deletion. Some capability for batch-deleting or -editing--not just in Mail, but in other apps, as well--would save time and sanity.

Bring landscape mode to more applications: Typing on the iPhone's keyboard is among the device's surprising pleasures. But that doesn't mean there aren't potential improvements to be made. In Safari, you can turn the iPhone sideways to access a wider keyboard for easier typing. So why not make this orientation available in other text-heavy applications, such as like Notes and Mail? Why not go the full nine yards and make it available whenever you summon the keyboard? Hardcore iPhone typists everywhere will thank you, Apple.

Establish some interface consistency: The iPhone manages to maintain some degree of consistency in its interface, but there are times when it can throw you for a loop. Why, for example, can you not swipe Notes, Contacts, or Voicemail messages to delete them? And why does the Edit button appear in the bottom left corner of Safari's bookmarks, but the top right corner the rest of the time? Learning different muscle memories for different applications is to be expected, but consistency is the watchword of good design: You never want to have think about where a control is twice. -- Dan Moren

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