15 things Apple should fix in iPhone 2.0

Constructive criticism on how Apple can improve the iPhone, ranging from 3G and GPS services to a flash camera and video capture

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Apple should produce an add-on component for existing mail servers to offer push e-mail -- or at the very least it should push e-mail through the company's .Mac service. In contrast to Yahoo Mail, .Mac offers both Web mail and POP/IMAP access as part of its package. In fact, it's a little surprising that Apple chose to partner with Yahoo for push e-mail rather than add value to the .Mac package.

While it might be a little much to expect Apple to produce an add-on for every mail server platform on the market (though it is worth noting the RIM produces a number of such products for BlackBerry users), it is conceivable that such an option could be added to Mac OS X Server. As with adding push e-mail to .Mac, this could add much value to Mac OS X Server's mail services, which have traditionally been very basic.

12. Sync to-dos with iCal or Outlook

The iPhone's calendar is one of the most user friendly I've seen on a mobile device, but one commonly used feature is missing: the to-do list. It's the one feature that I really miss on a daily basis.

Using third-party options is possible, but it's nowhere near as convenient as it would be to simply sync the iPhone to an existing calendar tool (most likely iCal on Macs and Outlook on Windows) and have to-dos updated along with calendar items, contacts and so on. Once more, this is something that Apple could easily address in both future and current iPhones.

13. Sync notes with your computer

Right up there with to-dos is notes. The iPhone includes a Notes application that has a fun yellow legal-pad look. The mystery and limitation is that there's no real mechanism for doing anything with notes once you create them. Yes, you can e-mail them, but if that's all you can do, why not simply write yourself an e-mail in the first place?

Most other mobile devices support the concept of notes as something that is synced with an information management tool (typically, Outlook on Windows and a third-party application on Macs). This makes notes a much more functional tool because you can organize them like contacts or to-do items. With some applications, notes can also be shared among users.

To make its Notes application truly useful, Apple should also take this approach and allow syncing of notes either with a self-contained notepad application running on a user's computer or with an existing tool such as Outlook in Windows or Mail in OS X.

14. Send text messages to multiple contacts at once

The iPhone's Text application is one of the coolest-looking features on the device. With an iChat-inspired interface, text messaging feels more like chatting. Everyone who sees it likes the look of it.

There's only one problem: You can't send the same message to two or more people at once. While I like the conversational approach, if I'm trying to connect with people while I'm out or planning a get-together, I often want to send the same message to multiple friends.

The iPhone is the only phone I've used that doesn't offer the ability to address a single text message to multiple recipients. For frequent texters, it can be a big hassle to retype the same message five or six times. Even if the only way to work this into the Text application's interface is to generate multiple conversation threads when a message is sent to more than one person, this should be an option. In this area, Apple has uncharacteristically missed the mark of the old adage "form follows function."

15. Add an RSS reader

Apple did a great job in translating Safari from a desktop Web browser to a mobile one, thanks mostly to its Multi-touch technology. One feature that didn't carry over was Safari's ability to subscribe to RSS feeds. (Honestly, Safari never was the greatest RSS reader, but at least the feature exists in its desktop form.)

RSS readers for mobile devices offer a quick way to aggregate and view content. Since RSS feeds are typically content-only (i.e., they don't have complex page-design elements), they are particularly well suited for mobile use -- especially given the speed limitations when connecting to the Internet using AT&T's EDGE network.

A built-in RSS reader, either as part of Safari or as a separate application, would be a great addition to the iPhone for users who want a quick way to keep up with news and blogs on the road. Until one is available, however, the mobile version of Google Reader serves as a good alternative.

What else?

If Apple makes these changes, the next-generation iPhones will be truly phenomenal devices. Did we miss anything? Do you have any iPhone pet peeves you'd like to see Apple address, or any work-arounds for the problems outlined above? Tell us about it in the comments area below.

Computerworld is an InfoWorld affiliate. Ryan Faas is a freelance writer and technology consultant specializing in Mac and multiplatform network issues. You can find more information about Faas at ryanfaas.com.

This story, "15 things Apple should fix in iPhone 2.0" was originally published by Computerworld.

Copyright © 2007 IDG Communications, Inc.

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