My List of Ten Improvements Needed for the iPhone

Okay, I bought one. I’ve had it for 24 hours, and I really like it. It’s slick. It’s got lots of cool features. And it is just damned shiny and screams cool. But to demonstrate that I’m not a total fanboy, I present for your consideration a list of ten things which I think should change to make it an even cooler device.

  1. Flash. Don’t get me wrong, I mostly hate flash, but it has become nearly universal, and is actually just about the easiest and least painful way to get video onto a webpage in a way that most browsers can do. My Windows PC can watch them. My Macbook can watch them. My Wii and my PSP can watch them (at least, certain versions of it). My spiffy new iphone should do them too.
  2. ssh I need Secure Shell. You gave me something with a keyboard I might actually want to type on, how about giving me the ability to remotely login to my machines and execute simple shell commands?
  3. VNC Okay, the shell access was nice, but I really need to graphical type stuff once in a blue moon. You gave me ssh, how about a VNC client?
  4. Audio/Video recording I used to record my old podcasts with my Dell Axim x50v. Originally, I used an app that just did uncompressed wav recording. Later, I bought an app that would do mp3 recording. Both were cool and useful. Oh, and my old LG CU500? It could record video too. Sure, it was pretty lo resolution and crappy, but it was partly a function of the camera. The iPhone’s camera is (at least marginally) better, why can’t I do some little video recording?
  5. The Camera App isn’t very impressive. You can’t adjust pictures brightness, contrast or size. It’s kind of slow. The only way to trigger the picture taking is by hitting the small onscreen button. How about having it count down ala Photo Booth, so you can resteady your camera before it snaps the picture?
  6. Better bookmarks By default, it simply synchronizes bookmarks from your Safari setup on your desktop machine. There doesn’t appear to be anyway to reorganize or reorder them very easily once they are on your iPhone. Being able to create a shortcut button on the main page would also be an excellent idea.
  7. Unified mail handling, with better notifications. I love my Macbook and the Mail app. I have four different email accounts, but they are all accessible as a Inbox. On the iPhone, this brilliant idea isn’t implemented: i have four separate email inboxes that I have to scan when the little buzz indicates that I have a new message.
  8. Bluetooth support I was shocked to find that while the iPhone supports Bluetooth headsets, you basically can’t do anything else via Bluetooth. Not just modem support, but you can’t even transfer files to the device. Heck, even my old LG phone could do that.
  9. Instant messaging It simply must happen. AIM, Jabber, IRC, whatever. Not silly web gateways either, real applications. Yes, it will make AT&T cross because they won’t have so many SMS messages. We don’t care. It is ridiculous to give us unlimited data connectivity and then charge us an extra $10 a month for 1000 more 120 byte messages, just because they are sent via a different, less efficient network. It’s also silly to deprive us of instant messaging when we are often not even on your network, using Wifi.
  10. Lastly, 3rd party applications. You can either fight it, or embrace it. If the experience of the PSP should teach you anything, it’s that sufficiently talented and motivated people will work to subvert the restrictions that you place on the device. You could either continue to waste time and energy trying to convince them that they don’t want what you aren’t giving them, or you could give them what they want.

What about the rest of you? What do you want to see software-wise on your iPhone?

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Web Development for iPhone

Here’s Apple’s documentation for developing web stuff for the iPhone. It’s not all that surprising mostly, but it is good to keep a link to this hanging around.

Apple Developer Connection – Web Development for iPhone

Addendum: Josh, if you are looking for info on which codecs, bitrate etc to use for the iPhone, here it is: on a subpage of the above link.. Basically:

The Movie to MPEG-4 exporter with the following settings prepares movies for Wi-Fi.
In the H.264 video options, make sure you restrict the encoder to use the Baseline profile, and select “Faster encode (Single-pass)” encoding in the Video Options dialog.
Video settings: 900 kbit/sec, H.264, 480 x 360; frame rate: current; preserve aspect ratio using: Fit within size
Audio settings: 128 kbit, AAC-LC
.mp4 file
The Movie to 3G exporter with the following settings prepares movies for EDGE.
Video settings: 64 kbit, H.264, 176 x 144; frame rate: 10 or 15; preserve aspect ratio using: Letterbox or Crop
Audio settings: 16 kbit, AAC-LC
.3gp file

Addendum: I’ve had no luck getting my video-conversion Swiss Army knife, ffmpeg to generate H264 video. Normal MP4 video with the WiFi bitrate settings works fine. I had some difficulty with making 3gp files, but MP4 files at the lower bitrates work well too. I’ll post links to some examples after I’ve tweaked them a bit more.