We’re now just two weeks away from seeing Apple (AAPL) take the wraps off its sixth iPhone and while nothing is certain until Apple makes it official, we have a pretty good idea of what to expect from the so-called “iPhone 5.” Parts leaks, rumors and even videos of the new iPhone housing have been flowing steadily for months now, and they paint a relatively complete picture: We’re looking at a complete redesign that is just 7.6 millimeters thick, a 4-inch display, 4G LTE connectivity, 1GB of RAM and a new unibody aluminum case.
We’re also looking at a fresh upgrade to Apple’s mobile operating system. The Cupertino, California-based company first showed off iOS 6 during its annual Worldwide Developer Conference earlier this year and developers have been playing with the updated OS ever since.
The new iPhone is shaping up to be a fantastic upgrade and iOS 6 brings plenty of new functionality to the table, but Apple’s killer combo still leaves a lot to be desired. Here’s my list of the most annoying things that iOS 6 and Apple’s next-generation won’t fix.
Auto-correct. Apple is definitely doing Damn You Autocorrect a huge favor by keeping its text-input correction feature as miserable as it is, but most users likely don’t appreciate it quite as much. I’ve been playing with iOS 6 for some time now and while auto-correct is showing some small signs of improvement, it’s still pretty awful.
Widgets. It’s 2012, Apple. 2012. And I still have to open Notification Center or some app to know how hot it is outside? I still have to go into settings to toggle things like Wi-Fi and Bluetooth? I still have to dig around for the Stocks app to get quotes? Give me a break.
Apple fans speculate that the company is concerned about the impact widgets might have on battery life, but Apple is the king of compromise when it comes to battery life. If it can find a viable solution for third-party apps — a controlled set of APIs that developers have access to — I’m sure it can work something out that would give users a limited number of widget-like icons that provide no-touch information.
Time- and location-based actions. The Do Not Disturb feature in iOS 6 is great — it allows users to silence phone calls and notifications each night on a schedule. This is only the tip of the iceberg, however, and I would love to see at least some functionality from applications like Motorola’s Smart Actions in iOS.
I discussed Smart Actions in my review of the RAZR MAXX, and some form of this functionality should be included in all smartphones. In a nutshell, the app takes the best time- and location-based functionality from various third-party solutions that have been around since the days of Symbian and Windows Mobile, and brings it to its Android devices. So, for example, a phone can be set so that every night it will automatically disable all services that synchronize data in the background, turn the ringer to silent, disable GPS and auto-reply to every SMS with “I’ll get back to you in the morning.”
Compared to the flexibility and control afforded by Smart Actions and similar solutions, Apple’s Do Not Disturb feature is sorely lacking.
Better email client. We’re on the sixth generation of Apple’s mobile software and I still can’t drill down my inbox view so it only displays unread emails. I also still can’t mark an email as read without opening it or navigate to my sent items without backing out to the main account list, scrolling down past the inboxes and navigating through the main folders. Come on.
Automatic app updates. It’s great that users won’t have to input a password in order to update an application starting with iOS 6, but there should absolutely be an option to update applications automatically.
Actionable notifications. While on the topic of not being able to mark an email as read with a tap or a swipe, let’s look at Apple’s notifications in iOS. Sad though it may be, notifications finally transitioned from absolutely abysmal to pretty good last year when Apple introduced iOS 5. Apple was playing catch-up at that time though, and there’s still work to be done.
Smartphone notifications should be actionable. If I get an SMS and I want to mark it as read or even respond, why do I have to open that SMS first? Same goes with email. So much is possible with actionable notifications, and Apple is way behind the curve.
Bigger display. According to rumors, multiple reports and a mountain of parts leaks, the next iPhone will include a 4-inch display. That’s all well and good, but all accounts suggest we’re only looking at a height increase — from the current model’s 960 x 640 pixels up to 1,136 x 640 pixels.
The new real estate will be nice to have in some instances, but it seems pretty likely that the next iPhone display won’t actually result in larger UI elements. Instead, we’re just looking at a change that would give the device a little more room for the current tiny visuals and a display aspect ratio that is quite different from the iPad. It will be interesting to see how this impacts apps and third-party developers.
Sharing data between apps. Apple limits third-party apps in terms of how they can interact with iOS, but it does offer APIs that compensate for this limitation in many instances. When it comes to third-party apps interacting with each other, however, Apple hasn’t even scratched the surface.
Enough with the skull quake. Last but not least, a pet peeve: Who — seriously, who — at Apple thought it was ok to let notifications vibrate while a user is on the phone? And how has this not been fixed already? When vibrating alerts are enabled on the iPhone and the user is on a call, the phone should play a barely audible chime in the ear speaker. It should not, under any circumstances, vibrate against the user’s head.