The iPhone 3.0 countdown is officially on: Apple has announced plans to reveal the next generation of its iPhone operating system at a media event next Tuesday. While the company's keeping up its usual wall of mystique, we've compiled a list of some of the most discussed features users want to see. I'm no psychic, but some of these seem to be shoo-ins for inclusion -- and maybe the St. Patrick's Day unveiling will bring a little Irish-style luck for your favorite feature.
1. Push Notification
One of the longest-running requests, push notification has been discussed since last summer. The system, which would let apps receive information from Apple servers even while they're not actively running (think IM programs), was set to debut last September. The missed deadline led to speculation that the feature might be dead in the water. So could push notification finally make the cut for iPhone 3.0?
"It seems that it would be a high priority from a competitive standpoint," notes Dan Hays, a mobile industry expert who serves as director of PRTM Management Consultants. "That's definitely one of the big opportunities for Apple."
2. Adobe Flash Support
After on-again, off-again development, support for Adobe Flash has continued to evade iPhone users, often proving for many to be one of the device's most annoying omissions. Aside from the "technical challenge" said to be presented with placing Flash on the iPhone, politics seem to play a big part in its absence. There's always hope, but you may not want to hold your breath on this one just yet.
3. Advanced Bluetooth Functionality
Many fans of the iPhone have been asking for expanded functionality in the Bluetooth realm -- you know, the ability to perform tasks like file-sharing or wireless keyboard connecting. This could be one of the simpler features to implement in the iPhone OS, yet it may not be at the top of Apple's list.
"It's not clear to me that it would be a big driver of additional sales," Hays points out. The speed of Bluetooth, he says, limits the practicality of its transfer power. "I would see it as something that they might be likely to do, but not necessarily a high priority."
4. Copy and Paste Options
I suspect almost all iPhone users would get on-board with the idea of added copy, cut, and paste options within the platform. An odd omission in the first place, one would hope this basic ability will appear in the 3.0 release.
5. Background Processing
The much-requested multitasking support could actually have a shot in iPhone's 3.0 release. Apple has previously cited the risk of draining too much power and hurting performance as a hurdle for the addition. Rumors as recent as early February, however, suggest that 3.0 could be the turning point.
6. Horizontal Keyboard
While apps have made it possible to get a horizontal keyboard for e-mailing on the iPhone, native support for a wider typing platform for both mail and text messaging has yet to surface. With the growing field of versatile smartphones, this could be an easy addition that'd be wise for Apple to make.
"If you look at how the touchscreen keyboard's been implemented in competing devices, such as the [Blackberry] Storm, it definitely would seem that Apple wouldn't have anything to lose," Hays says. "It probably would gain some good will with their users by adding it."
7. Video Conferencing
Video conferencing would be a big boost for the iPhone -- but it'd also be a big drain on the network. While plenty of people would like to see it debut, the data difficulty could serve as a roadblock in making this one a 3.0 reality.
"The average iPhone user uses something like a hundred times the amount of data as a regular user. You can imagine that video conferencing would be even more so," Hays says.
8. iPhone Tethering
Ever since the sudden banning of the iPhone's Netshare tethering application last August, the use of the iPhone as a modem has been reduced to only a memory. An e-mail said to be from Steve Jobs that same summer, though, suggested Apple was working with AT&T to create a built-in solution. If the carrier conflicts can be overcome (AT&T does currently offer tethering plans for some of its other wireless models), Apple would have a strong weapon on its hands with this added option.
9. Global Search
File this one under "why not": Apple could look at bringing a universal search option into its iPhone 3.0 release. Rather than just offering limited searching within applications such as Contacts, why not let users do a device-wide search from the home screen? Why wasn't it built in from the beginning, you might ask? Search me.
10. Extra SMS Options
Something that seems to come up frequently in the forums is the notion of packing a little more punch into the iPhone's SMS system. Users want the ability to send and receive images or videos in text messages, as well as the addition of SMS forwarding functionality. Here's hoping Apple is listening.
The List Goes On
There are plenty more requests out there, some more far-fetched than others. The integration of the SBSettings app's simple top-of-screen toggles, a folder organization system for the home screen, and enhanced Exchange sync options are a few of the other ideas I've seen floating around.
I'm sure you have a wish list of your own, too, so step up to the plate -- and by "the plate," I mean "the comments section" -- and let us hear what you want to see. What do you think Apple will actually deliver?