iPhone Shortcomings?

The Boy Genius is out with his top ten iPhone annoyances. While several can be filed as minutiae that won’t bother most folks to any great extent, I’ve yet to meet the perfect handset. The iPhone is no different, possessing a variety of quirks and limitations. But, before I get to my list of shortcomings, it’s worth mentioning that I’ve used the first generation EDGE iPhone as my primary mobile for over a year. Longer than any other smartphone I’ve owned. And I’ve owned quite a few. The iPhone is both fun and functional. Plus, despite AT&T’s periodic coverage and connectivity issues, my $20 data plan with 200 SMS bucket is still one of the best deals out there. On to the complaints!

The iPhone has a large, beautiful screen and would make a killer PMP. In fact, it’s advertised as such. And does work well as long as you remain within Apple’s (iTunes) ecosystem. But forget it if your video (or audio) originate elsewhere. H.264 is becoming a video standard, yet there’s all sorts of other video files/codecs out there. It’d be nice if my phone supported some them natively, without tedious transcodes. Heck, I’d even pay for a third party video player (as we’ve seen on other mobile platforms)… if only Apple would allow such a thing.

I’m still amazed that such a modern platform can only do one (third party) thing at a time. Apple’s made the point that they don’t want countless background processes running, dragging down the system. But how about just one? Let me listen to Pandora, Slacker, or Flycast while checking my email. Or run a persistent IM client.

Apple wasn’t the first to allow third party software, but they were the first non-carrier to provide a simple, centralized location for accessing these programs. And I don’t think anyone can question the success of their App Store. Yet with so many apps out there, we need a better way to organize our downloads. Folders may or may not be the answer, but I’d like to some sort of improved method for arranging, grouping, and hiding icons. Including the native iPhone apps.

The Other Stuff
Here’s a few nits to round out my list of complaints requests… It’s been beat to death, but cut & paste is a no-brainer. I’ve managed to live without it. But it’d sure be a nice enhancement. And how about letting me attach multiple photos to an email message? I assume true turn-by-turn navigation is on the way, and that might motivate me to upgrade to the iPhone 3G. Lastly, while I may not need a unified inbox as BG suggests, it should take fewer than 4 taps to switch Inboxes.

12 thoughts on “iPhone Shortcomings?”

  1. Good list Dave:

    – I want some way of backing up SMS discussions. I’m now using SMS for some of what I used to use email for. But there is no record of my SMS. I can’t save it. So, that means I can’t search it, or re-read SMS discussions. I want a way to get my SMS off my iPhone into any format. Even .txt would be fine.

    – I have many peeves around how they have implemented the iPod features on the iPhone. I hope to write a post on this at some point. But the one that stands out is how darn difficult it is to fast forward and rewind podcasts on the thing. The round button on the iPod was so much more useful than the almost useless fastforward/rewind controls on the iPhone. It used to be so easy to swoosh around the iPod circle to bypass an commercial. Not so much on the iPhone.

  2. Very good list Dave. I may be in the minority here, but for me if they would throw in a slider keyboard, I’d be much more apt to buy an iPhone. Shoot, at least give us the keyboard to work in the horizontal position without having to use some 3rd party app to do that.

    I’m growing to love my iPod Touch as it does almost everything I want it to. I carry the iPod Touch along with my blackberry curve and have pretty much everything I want.

  3. How about a reminder/nag system that dose not totally suck?
    If you don’t fondle your phone every five seconds (much less stick to charge somewhere, say a office that you are not in 24/7) what are the odds you will know you missed a calendar reminder, phone call, sms? The stupid beast makes one little noise, once, and then dose nothing else to communicate with you. Some times I miss my treo with butler so bad it hurts. Worst PIM design ever from that stand point.
    How about being able to handle multiple calendars? How about being able o invite from your calendar to other people? How about tabed email, I mean come on?
    It’s slick, sexy, and like most sames like that, mostly dysfunctional in half the things that matter.

    I totally agree on the price structure, why I have stuck wit the original too. They hit the right spot there and should have stuck with for the 3G.
    Sprint keeps touting their everything plan for the palm pre but they clearly did not get the memo of what was right with the first iphone price package.

  4. I love my iPhone, and in truth could never switch back… but I have complaints…

    1. Multitasking – Dave nailed it… why I can’t listen to Pandora while texting is beyond me… and not being able to leave an IM client on is crazy…

    2. SMS… really… why can’t i send or receive SMS?

    3. Another poster hit it, better reminders for those badges….

  5. Hey Dave I have to agree with you on your list. I just read on another site that there is 2 apps that let you send more than one photo at a time in the app store, call SendPhotos & Multi-Photo Email.

    I think I told you before that jailbroken phone can get an app from Cydia called Categories, that put your apps in folders. But that’s if you want to have to jailbreak at every update.

  6. I still don’t understand the lack of stereo bluetooth (A2DP). Before the iPhone came out I thought I read the chipset could handle it so it would just be a matter of a software update.

    You would think Apple’s sales of their own headset they would create would outweigh any piracy concerns or whatever is holding them back.

  7. How about: 1) auto on/off, 2)email notification icon on lock screen, 3) profiles, 4)way to turn bluetooth on or off with 1 press, 5) dont return to the home screen every time you start downloading an app, and 6) horizontal e-mail.

  8. @Dale – check out Syphone (http://www.micromat.com/index.php?option=content&task=view&id=190). Not the prettiest thing in the world, but it works for copying your SMS off the phone. Price is right too. FREE.

    My annoyance – MMS. Other annoyance – my OUTRAGEOUS AT&T bill. I have 700minutes and two iphones on my account (one 1st gen and one 3G) and it’s astronomical. I just cancelled the 3G account (and swallowed a $175 termination fee) and went to a Pay as you go phone. Swapped out the SIMS and so far so good. (No Visual Voicemail or 3G, but I don’t care at this point).

  9. You can set Flycast up to run in the background so you can listen while checking e-mail etc. It’s easy – Go to the Settings tab in Flycast and set “background play” to ON. It takes a ferw seconds longer for the stream to start – bouncing out to start it as a Quicktime movie but then you are returned to Flycast and th e Now Playing screen for your selected station.

    Then go ahead and check e-mail with your streaming soundtrack.

    Flycast also has a built in web browser, so you can click on ads and visit related sites without leaving the flycast app to open Safari.


  10. @Griffon – Butler and the Palm calendar are the reasons I only made it five days with the iPhone before returning to my Centro.

    Do I think the Centro or the Palm/Access OS are superior to the iPhone? Of course not – but Apple really screwed the pooch on the iPhone’s calendar!

    Add a birthday to a contact? Sure. Have that birthday appear in the calender so its of some use? Negative. Set a calender reminder? Sure – in fact set two. Set either of those reminders to trigger more than two days before the event? Negative. How about a week view? Nope.

    The absence of MMS is just a complete joke that I long ago assumed would have been corrected in the first software update. I would also like to see custom sounds for any device notification, a file/folder structure, maybe a task list, and yes…..the cutting edge functions known as copy and paste.

    I’d love to think that the powers that be in Cupertino read BGR and ZNF and that these issues might soon be fixed, but surely they have known of these shortcomings for quite some time. Why they wouldn’t want to improve a clearly phenomenal device by giving it some of the basic capabilities and features of its less formidable competitors is beyond me.

    While I won’t put all of my hopes on the Pre, I am hopeful its release will inspire Apple designers/engineers to improve upon their device with the obvious enhancements and more.

  11. Isn’t it wierd tht you unable to save any sms as drafts (like in nokia sets) before sending them out. The sad part is that the phone doesn’t even save the text message automatically in case we we press some other tab.

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