We’ve come an awfully long way since the first iPhone (s aapl) was released in 2007. The last three and a half years have seen dramatic improvements in both the hardware and software of Apple’s smartphone. So what more could you ask for? A lot, it turns out.
Well, I have a few modest suggestions. And in the spirit of the holiday season, I’m offering this wish list (along with the one I already compiled for iOS 5) to Santa in the hope that he can put in a good word with Steve Jobs. You never know; it might work.
Advanced Capacitive Touchscreen
This is something I forget about in the summer months, but now that snow is falling, I resent having to take my gloves off to use my iPhone. (Have you ever tried answering your iPhone with the tip of your nose? Far from dignified…) Certain exotic gloves are available that make it possible to use a capacitive touchscreen while keeping one’s digits warm, but they’re often expensive or gimmicky. It might sound too good to be true, but a report last month on Patently Apple suggested just such a technology might be on its way.
Thinner, Lighter, Stronger
Forget glass. Yeah, it looks great but I don’t care if it is made from the same stuff used in helicopter windscreens. Can liquid metal provide us with a super thin, super-strong chassis? Failing that, I don’t mind a carbon fibre composite (which is likely a better material than metal anyway, since it won’t interfere with the iPhone’s many radios.)
This one’s a long shot. The trouble with capacitive charging is that it’s molasses-slow and expensive to implement. But there’s still something alluring about the concept of simply resting my phone on a minimal Apple-branded surface and watching it get charged. A liquid-metal body (see above) would, by the way, make this much easier to implement.
More Sensors! More!
Adding temperature, pressure, humidity and EMF sensors might sound insane, but imagine the apps that would appear to exploit such tech! Incidentally, with a metal chassis, a future iPhone might feasibly contain a heart-rate sensor of the kind commonly found in treadmills and workout equipment. A heart rate monitor in Nike+ would be a great addition to that service… as would a pedometer. Bottom line here – the more sensors we can get in the iPhone, the more versatile it will become.
Impossibly Long-Lived Battery
This is a tough one. See, it’s hard to ask for all these new sensors and next-generation capacitive touch screens and still say I want a longer-lasting, high-performance battery. But still, I’m asking for it anyway. This is a wish list after all. And even if delivering a “miracle battery” means breaking the very laws of physics, well, I’m sure Apple can do it.
Automatic Owner Recognition
If you use your iPhone for every little thing, you probably use the passcode lock to keep your personal data safe. For the curious, the current four digit passcode software lock offers 1,048,576 possible combinations. That’s probably good-enough for most people already accustomed to having to memorize PINs for their credit and debit cards, but I’d like to see this taken much further. A combination of facial recognition, bioelectrical impedance analysis and voice print identification could make an iPhone far more secure than it is today. It would certainly help sell to government customers after the WikiLeaks fiasco.
The just-released Infinity Blade is an impressive achievement on the iPhones 3GS and 4, given that they use single-core processors. Imagine what might be possible with dual or quad-core processors in a future device.
Touch Sensitive Bezel
There’s a (sort of) joke shared amongst the Apple faithful that if Steve Jobs could do-away with the iPhone’s single button, he would. Well, he can. In fact, should. The Home button’s functionality could be replaced with capacitive gesture input built into the iPhone’s bottom-bezel which could remain large, but nowhere near as large as it must be to accommodate the hardware button. What’s more, gestures could be added (or edited) at any time to allow for even more functionality, like instant access to the device’s camera.
High Definition Sound
Forget that tinny, crackling mono voice that you hear when you use the iPhone as an actual phone. HD voice calls are amazing and, a bit like HD TV, must be experienced to be believed. This isn’t entirely an iPhone-only thing though – carriers must provide support for wideband audio (as it is more properly known), and precious few have shown much interest in doing so. In the UK, for instance, only one carrier has launched HD voice support, and that was just a few months ago. Good luck convincing AT&T (s t) that it should be a priority.
So there you have it: my ten wishes for the iPhone 5. The list surely goes on. I’d love to know what you most want in next year’s inevitable hardware update; share your ideas in the comments below.
Related content from GigaOM Pro (sub req’d):