When will the iPhone get features other phones have had for years?

The iPhone’s success is somewhat in spite of itself. Sure, you can access all kinds of applications that do all kinds of things, and they’ve really gotten a few things right, like (IMHO) the phone interface, but some of the things it lacks are starting to become embarrassments.

For example, for what, exactly, is the bluetooth interface intended? Probably 98% of the people who even know what bluetooth is and care that the iPhone has this support want to use it almost exclusively so that they can use their bluetooth headsets. Where I live, the law forbids using a phone while driving unless you have a hands-free capability (a.k.a a bluetooth headset). Unfortunately, the iPhone does *not* meet the need here, because there are NO VOICE COMMANDS! Sure, there are some cars that will take on some of that responsibility, and there are headsets coming out that have the commands built into them, but having this built into the phone is, imo, the right way to do this. I shouldn’t have to be in my car, or need a particular headset to get this feature.

Also, there is no MMS support on the iPhone, and the AT&T hack to work around this limitation might actually be *worse* than just having no solution at all. MMS is used to send and receive photos (among other things, like longer text messages and even video) on your phone. Again, lots of phones have had this for several years now. What happens when someone sends a photo? Well, AT&T stores the photo somewhere, and sends you a text message with a link to a site, and a username and password to use to access the photo. The username and password are both jumbled bunches of characters, and you’re supposed to stare at this text message for an hour until you can commit it to memory, and then click the link and go log in to see the picture. You can’t *do* anything with the picture, mind you — you can look at it, and then you can close your browser. I just tell people who want to send me stuff that the iPhone doesn’t support it, because it basically doesn’t.

There are other annoyances as well, like the inability to read email in landscape view, the crippled map application (ask in the comments if you want more on that one), and the App Store closes just because you initiated an upgrade (forcing you to go back into the store manually if you, say, have more than one app to upgrade), and more!

I bought my iPhone before the 3G came out, but the 3G doesn’t address these issues either. I’ll probably get a new phone in about one year from now, and if these issues still aren’t solved, it is not likely (given the rate that competition is catching up to the other *useful* iPhone features) that I’ll get an iPhone. So if you’re thinking about developing an app for Android, do it!

  • http://www.a440.org/steve/blog/ Steve

    I love my iPhone, but I have to agree with most of these points, especially with Apple’s apparent continued insistance that “you don’t need cut-and-paste.” Please.

    I’ve never received a multimedia message, but I can tell you that if you’re staring at an image in your web browser, you can tap and hold the image. In a second or two, you’ll get a menu with an option to save it locally.

  • m0j0

    Nice. I just checked the poor excuse for a manual that came with my iPhone — doesn’t mention the magical tap-n-hold technique for photos. Good catch!

  • http://blog.mcmanus-family.com Drew McManus

    TOTALLY agree with you on the MMS thing. Apple needs to add MMS support, but they should at least improve the horrible user experience. I make my case here: http://blog.mcmanus-family.com/2008/09/the-case-for-mms-on-the-iphone.html

  • http://bitzero.org uncryptic

    I’ve used this for MMS with some success: http://www.swirlyspace.com/iphone/apps/mms/

  • http://p.mobile9.com/gsthreehundred/gallery/ Jeromeo

    The phone is also missing:

    Video recording support
    -even though it has the hardware to record video clips at a low framerate it requires a ‘jailbreak’ or unlocking/factory resetting.

    Ability to remove battery
    -you will be required to send the device in to AT&T or iApple just to replace the battery (which, without a doubt, will fail at some point during it’s lifetime).

    Bluetooth Obex Push/File transfer
    -you will never be able to send or recieve anything over bluetooth like older black and white screen phones were capable of doing 6/7 years ago.

    Advanced Bluetooth Profiles
    -like the ability to use speech, AVRCP for remote control, FAX, etc. to control remote functions over Bluetooth

    Stereo Bluetooth
    -A2DP stereo Bluetooth… why use wireless headphones when you get old-fashioned wired earbuds.

    ‘Real’ 3.5mm Headphone Jack
    -with the recessed jack built into the phone you are pretty much limited to the specially designed earbuds that have an adapter that can fit inside the awkward port. btw, if you ever lose that pair you can donate even more $ to iApple when you are practically forced to buy a replacement set from either AT&T or iTunes.

    USB support
    -even though iApple has long encouraged FireWire, there is no FireWire port or mini/micro USB port. for many years devices like digital cameras and smartphones have been able to connect with a USB (UNIVERSAL serial bus-note the caps) and many devices can even charge the battery via powered USB. you will be required to use an awkward docking station that is incompatible with every other device on the planet (excluding other iApple products).

    Mass Storage Device profile
    -most USB devices have the option to connect under a profile called “MassStorageDevice” whereby upon connection to a computer the system file structure (i.e. folders and files) are viewable/accessible from that computer with no software or driver installation. this limits you to iTunes or some other program beginning with a lower case “i” to view or transfer files of any kind. for example you will have to open iTunes to drag documents onto the device instead of just dragging the file to the folder that pops up on any computer from a device with MassStorage.

    True 3G and video telephony
    -since 2005 in Europe and even earlier in Japan, devices using 3G have used a part of that geographic area’s UMTS band for uplink (uploading data out/sending) and part of that UMTS frequency for downlink (downloading data in/recieving)-and all of that usage available during a GSM telephone call. as a result of only using limited frequency for UMTS there are not true 3G features like video conference calls. which is one reason the iPhone does not have a front facing camera.

    Flash Lite 3
    -also known as an ‘integrated flash player’, Adobe Flash Lite 3 allows for playing of flash video within a web page. iApple was forced to stop showing an iPhone commercial in the UK because they claimed that the iPhone could ‘finally use all parts of the internet’ since it cannot play flash plugins. (just for info-the mobile youtube page that the iPhone accesses is not flash, but mp4/h.264 AVC streamed video)

    Removable memory card
    -no SD, MMC, or any expandable/swappable memory card slot of any kind.

    Camera Flash
    -no xenon flash, LED light, or flash light (also called a torch in Europe). please note-using the screen does not count as a flash because it is not facing in the same direction as the camera lens nor a flashlight as it is not a directional light source.

    Integrated Media Server funcionality
    -although somewhat possible with a downloadable application, the OS has no integration of DLNA certification protocol to be accessed by any media server.

    FM Radio
    -you can access internet radio using your data plan, but there is no FM antenna or even functionality for using the headphones as an antenna for local FM signal.

    1-Seg Digital Television Broadcasting DVB
    -although not yet approved for use in the USA, the entire rest of the world has access to live TV through this antenna.

    Barcode reading
    -no OS integration of a barcode reader like Android or many Nokia N-Series devices.

    Copy, Cut, & Paste
    -even monochrome (b&w) phones from 6/7years ago had copy and pasting of alpha-numeric text, phone numbers, hyperlinks, etc. many people consider this as a reason why the iPhone should not be considered a smartphone. there is an application that pseudo adds this essential function, but it is limited to whatever program is currently open. i.e. if you are in iSafari you can only copy/paste within iSafari and will be able to copy a URL then enter messaging, but not be able to paste that text in an SMS.

    TV Out
    -Nokia N-Series devices, SonyEricsson, and other manufacturers have added integrated TV out ports for presentations or file viewing in both NTSC and PAL… but not iApple.

    Office/OpenOffice document editing
    -There is currently no way to edit documents of multiple formats.

    Search Within Contacts
    -no ‘find’ bar to locate information within the sub-information under each individual contact inside the contacts list.

    IRDA port
    -infra-red port for data transfer or use with a program to create a television remote control

    Unlocking
    -why give the phone multiple frequency antennas or the ability to remove a SIMcard when if you were to unlock the iPhone in America your iPhone will be scrambled and the operating system will permanently lock the enduser out should a software/firmware update be performed. and i dare you to try and get AT&T’s approval to unlock your iPhone. their customer service is, for lack of a better word, belligerent.

    *i’m sure i’m leaving out a bunch of options, but i just can’t type anymore. sure the user interface is ‘cute’, but don’t all the missing global standards literally set general technology for the masses back by years? and if you are someone who is just obsessed with your iApple iPhone you have every right to enjoy anything you so desire. just remember this quote:

    “Some people like clam juice, but that don’t make it good…”

  • m0j0

    @jeromeo,

    You can make a very engineering-standards-centric argument that the iPhone sets us back “by years”. However, I really don’t feel like the iPhone is popular due solely to a cute interface. The fact of the matter is that this device, at the time I purchased it, was more useful, more easily, than any other device on the market that could practically be purchased, that I ever saw. Prior to the iPhone, I was using a blackberry 7290, which had even more onerous and severe limitations. Other phones at the time did not have a screen size as large as the iPhone, which I wanted because if I was going to pay for this data plan, dammit, I was going to use the browser on this thing (which I do). At the time, there was no other mobile platform I was aware of that:

    a) allowed for rampant third-party application development, and
    b) allowed stupidly easy access to the application pool through a simple interface to a centralized repository.

    I’m no fanboy, to be sure. There are features you list that I hadn’t even considered, but that I’d love to see. I’m still steamed that there’s zero movement on just the simple features I’ve mentioned. However, until Android gains some traction in the marketplace, I’ll be sticking with the iPhone. I guess that, although I’m an engineer in some sense of that word, I still approach the things that need to “just work” every day as sort of an end user. I switched from Linux to the Mac on the desktop because I was tired of playing sysadmin on my desktop after doing it on servers all day long. I got an iPhone because of the things I just mentioned, and it integrates well with the mac. It has everything I need.

    In addition, I probably would *not* consider things like TV out, office integration, FM radio, or even camera flash to be big buying triggers for me. I have also never seen a bluetooth device that I didn’t hate and feel completely ripped off by.

    I understand your point, though, that we should all be supporting standards and all. The engineer on my left shoulder shakes his finger at me all the time about that. But the end user on my right shoulder always seems to win the argument between “standards-compliant” and “this works, and works now, and does all you need, and works with everything you already use, and all that stuff”

    I guess if Android+some hardware vendor makes it easy for me to buy and listen to music and podcasts, watch video, take/send/receive/manage photos, have multiple email accounts, sync all of the preceding to my Mac, with support for iCal, iPhoto, and iTunes, support voice commands, perform over-the-air data transfers and sync’ing, and basic bluetooth support for a headset, as long as it doesn’t have a clunky, slow, nasty interface, or a broken keyboard, I’ll move to it.