10 Things the 3G iPhone is Still Missing
By Tim Moynihan, PC World
The new App Store has unleashed a slew of great new apps for the iPhone, but there are still a few standard features we wish Apple's multimedia phone had. Here's the short list.
It's great that the new iPhone has faster data service and GPS. And you could get lost for days in the new iPhone App Store looking at all the cool new toys and productivity tools. But there are still quite a few Achilles heels in Apple's 3G iPhone. What's most surprising is that these missing features come standard even in some of the most basic phones. With these added features, the 3G iPhone could come pretty close to perfect. (This isn't the first time we've complained about what's missing from the iPhone, and many of the gripes on this list are repeat offenders.)
Here's what we would still like to see in the iPhone:
1. Multimedia Messaging Service (MMS)
Despite being fairly standard on most multimedia phones, MMS capabilities aren't part of the 3G iPhone's bag of tricks. That said, you can e-mail photos taken with the iPhone's 2-megapixel camera (or photos stored on the device). You can also share YouTube links directly from the iPhone's YouTube application. So why's it missing? The lack of MMS could be tied directly to the 3G iPhone's lack of a video camera; you can't share video files if you can't shoot or store them natively on the device. As for music, iTunes' strict limitations on sharing music are probably the reason behind that, but it would at least be nice to have audio-sharing capabilities for non-DRM-protected tracks.
2. Stereo Bluetooth / A2DP support
You've got to love the fact that the new iPhone no longer requires an adapter or headphones designed for its recessed headphone jack. But what about cutting the cable altogether? Unlike the latest BlackBerry, Windows Mobile and Symbian mobile platforms, the latest iPhone still doesn't offer the convenience of using a stereo Bluetooth headset to listen to its on-board iPod, at least without using a bulky adapter. For such a common feature, and for a company so aesthetically inclined, that's more than a little surprising.
3. Selecting, copying and pasting text
Apple fixed a few of the first-gen iPhone's shortcomings with the early-2008 firmware update (sending text messages to more than one recipient, for example), but they didn't add an option to edit text by selecting passages and copying and pasting them elsewhere in an e-mail message or note. And with the new iPhone firmware, they still haven't. This missing feature is more than a little annoying for those who write more than talk, want to copy and paste long strings from URLs, or fix links that get truncated in e-mail messages.
4. Horizontal keyboard for e-mail and notesAnother annoyance for writers -- and a confusing omission, given the fact that the iPhone's on-screen keyboard flips horizontally for some applications but not others -- is the fact that the touch-screen keyboard doesn't rotate to a landscape orientation when using the Notes, e-mail or Maps applications. Those also happen to be the three most writing-intensive apps on the iPhone, which makes the necessary one-finger hunting and pecking required by the portrait mode keyboard all the more annoying if you use those features a lot. Over time, using your thumbs to type versus holding the phone in one hand and poking at the keys with one finger is a lot more significant than you might think.
5. Improved predictive text (or the ability to turn it off)
The iPhone's predictive text feature (where the phone "guesses" what you're going to write after a few characters to eliminate typos) does a decent job at streamlining typing. However, it only has an "opt-out" feature, which requires hitting a very small "x" to deselect the word it suggests. This is where that feature fails. The time it saves in correcting miscues sometimes pales in comparison to the frustration it causes in forcing you to repeatedly deselect words. And there's no way to turn it off or create a keyboard-based shortcut to deselect the predicted word.
6. Integrated IM app
Here's the first thing on the list that the new App Store's offerings fix -- at least if you're an AOL Instant Messenger user. There's still no IM client pre-loaded onto the iPhone. That said, with e-mail and text messaging and a phone and a host of third-party mobile Web-based messaging offerings (Twitter comes to mind), do we really need another form of communication built into the 3G iPhone? Well, maybe a fax machine.
7. Flash support
Sadly, no one really knows when being able to view Flash animations or films will be a reality on the iPhone. This big wish-list item for the news version is still missing from the 3G handset. Even though YouTube clips are in Flash format on the Web, they've been converted to QuickTime format specifically for the iPhone-centric version of YouTube. The lack of Flash support means Safari fumbles when it comes to YouTube clips embedded in blog posts or other pages; those just show up as broken plug-in icons, with no option to launch the clips in the iPhone's separate YouTube app.
8. A better camera and a camcorder
Sorry, snapshooters and YouTube filmmakers. The 3G iPhone's still camera maxes out at 2 megapixels, and there's no way to shoot video with the camera. Those are limitations that no number of photography apps from the iPhone App Store will cure.
9. Unified e-mail inbox
Microsoft Exchange is now supported, but there's no way to get all your messages from Yahoo, Mac.com, Gmail, AOL and your business account all on one page, so to speak. Then again, barring excellent spam filters across all those sites, you wouldn't want that anyway.
10. Voice dialing and voice memos
Third-party apps to the rescue! The new iPhone has no native support for voice dialing or recording audio memos, but a few third-party apps now available via the App Store build them into the 3G handset, including Jott for iPhone, which is available for free.