5 Tiny Tweaks Apple Could Make to Improve the iPhone BEFORE 3.0

No, we're not talking cut/copy and paste, nor MMS, video recording, or any other of the slew of major feature omissions tech pundits can't go an article without kicking, dead-horse-like. (There must be songs and drinking games about them -- enough already!) We're talking the minor stuff, the small things, the tiny little tweaks Apple could roll out in a 2.2.2 or 2.3 OS update that would make our iPhone experience just that much better and more enjoyable on a day-to-day basis.

Apple has done it before, of course. Double-space to add a period. Double-tap Home to get to favorite phone numbers or the iPod app. Tap Home to slide back to the first/primary/main App screen. Having Apps update in-place rather than shoving them back to the first empty slot.

And they could do it again, perhaps even with minimal effort, and sooner rather than later.

iPhone OS 3.0 will be previewed next tuesday, March 17, but likely won't be delivered to users until June or July. Here's what we'd like to see from Apple in the meantime, after the break...

1. Page to End

System wide, we can currently tap on the very top info-bar to hyper-jump to the beginning of that page. Whether it's a long list like our inbox or reams of text like a web page, we can save ourselves immense "flick to scroll" time with a single tap. Jeremy would like to see this applied to the other extreme as well. Granted, not every app has a constant and consistent bottom-of-screen element the way they do the top info bar, and many also have controls arrayed down there, but if the geniuses at Apple could figure out a way to distinguish a quick bottom of the screen tap as a jump-to-bottom it would save just as much time "flicking to scroll" down. Jeremy wants it, our commenters want it. Make it so Apple.

2. Home Button Triple Click and Click-and-Hold

Click the lonely hardware Home Button and we go back to the Home Screen app launcher (or return to the primary home screen). Double click it and we go to Phone favorites or the iPod app. What about triple-clicking? We've seen Apple pull out all manner of morse-code inspired control schemes with their new headsets and the new iPod shuffle, so Chad wants them to work just that kind of magic on the iPhone Home Button and let users assign it to whatever app we'd like.

Triple-click to go straight to Mail, or SMS, any extra quick-launching ability would be appreciated. As another example, Dieter would also like to see some extra Home Button functionality -- click and hold to toggle Airplane Mode. Rather than turning on, swiping to unlock (perhaps entering a passcode), clicking or swiping to pull up the home screen with the Settings icon, tapping on Settings, and then flipping the Airplane Mode, this would be a one-step solution. Of course, click-and-hold could also be more than just Airplane Mode, but user-assignable like the triple click.

3. Landscape Lock

The iPhone is the best iPod Apple's ever made. They've said so themselves. But when it comes to traveling with an iPhone in the car, the rotation activated by the accelerometer combined with the lack of fine controls available in landscape mode, can make it a frustrating experience. Also on Dieter's list, then, is a Settings toggle to disable the accelerometer rotation in the iPod app for those times when you want to experience your media the way you want to experience your media. Of course, no need for this to be restricted to iPod -- it would be welcome in Safari at times as well.

4. Turn Off Notifications During Call

This one comes straight from CrackBerry Kevin's round robin review, where he was flabbergasted (and almost scared out of his bright orange socks) to find his iPhone 3G pinging and buzzing repeatedly in his ear while he tried to have a phone conversation. While not everyone would agree with him, it would be nice -- more than nice -- if Apple gave us a a toggle switch for "turn off notifications during call".

A vibrate only mode for event notifications would also be appreciated. Sometimes when we're talking to people, having an iPhone ping away in our pants every few minutes isn't exactly the epitome of cool...

5. Add Search to iPod App

We know, you want search in Mail -- heck, we want it in every app, system wide, leveraging Apple's Spotlight technology. However, that's likely not a small change. Why would iPod search be easier to implement? Apple has already added it to the Apple Remote app.

Why should searching your iTunes or Apple TV library be possible and not the potential 16GB of media you've loaded up on your iPhone? (Especially for hardcore songsters who may have thousands and thousands of tracks filling their iPhone -- or iPod touch).


So there they are, 5 small changes we think Apple could make in iPhone OS 2.2.2 or even 2.3 before we eventually get iPhone OS 3.0 next June or July (or whenever it is released).

Did we miss any? If so, let us know what tiny tweaks you'd like Apple to give us sooner rather than later.

Have something to say about this story? Leave a comment! Need help with something else? Ask in our forums!

Rene Ritchie

EiC of iMore, EP of Mobile Nations, Apple analyst, co-host of Debug, Iterate, Vector, Review, and MacBreak Weekly podcasts. Cook, grappler, photon wrangler. Follow him on Twitter and Google+.

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Reader comments

5 Tiny Tweaks Apple Could Make to Improve the iPhone BEFORE 3.0


Hey guys, great Podcast (your latest) just got through listening on my way to work.
If there's any smalI tweak I think the iPhone should have, I would say a Volume button Camera Capture feature for self photos to send to dear old grandma. Maybe more than just "small" but needed.

Often, I go to Maps only to be reminded that my Location Services is off. Why give me that link to the Settings app to turn it on when the link itself could be a Location "ON" button? One tap... BOOM!

Well, I'd really like to be able to edit the text library and chose which words replace others.

Completely agree about turning off notifications during a call. Not only is it annoying to hear it buzzing throughout a call, you can't END the call until you click through all the damn notifications.

I've thought about most of these things.
1) I've thought about this deeply since I use safari heavily. It's one of my most used apps. I thought that maybe if you hold two index fingers down and scroll down , it would make the scroll go faster.
2) also. I would like a short cut to return to the most recent app ! Maybe three clicks on the home button to return to the recent app.
3) For this , maybe they cab implement some of the MacBook trackpad technology used to rotate images in iphoto to rotate apps to lock in either landscape or portrate. I'm not sure how you would UNlock the position. Maybe press the home key and a a little note will come up as the same way the volume and slient / audio on note comes on.
4) + 5) are great points. I agree. Could not have said it better.

The item 5 could be simpler: we want our iPod app more like the Remote app, where you can use search AND create and edit playlists (not just the lame "On-The-Go", that's for iPods with no good controls).

I found a cool shortcut a few days ago. If the iPhone is locked, in the screen with the "slide to unlock" thing, if you press home twice you get iPod controls.

I would like to see the option to navigate back to the first view of a navigation-based app with a double-click on the left navigation button.
For example in Mail, with many Mail accounts, I always need to tap 3 times from any mail to get back to the accounts and go to the next unread mail. (Actually, adding a 'Unread mails' folder on top level in Mail would be even better)

Nice suggestions. The Home button click and hold is currently used for force-quitting apps, so it would be interesting if they changed that.
What I'd like to see is implementation of some finger gestures for shortcuts, similar to the MacBook trackpad. Tomorrow can't come any sooner!

I'd love it if location services didn't ask me every time I launched an app whether I want to use/allow it or not. Let me set this in preferences either globally or on an app specific basis (both would be better) and the apps could just then use on launch without bothering me.

I would like the weather app to just show the correct weather on the home screen like the calander app shows the correct date. Simple as that. No need to open the weather all unless looking up another city.

How about a search and/or sort feature feature in email? That's really the only thing I miss from my Blackberry.

Great article as always! I agree on all 5 subjects but would just like to add one thing aboun #2:
Holding the home button down for X seconds is already used for performing a "force quit" when an app for some reason crash. Mail & Safari are also running somewhat in the background and can be 100% closed buy holding down the home button for a few seconds (I forgot if its 3, 5 or whatever seconds).
Keep up the good work. Can't wait to hear what Apple has to say tomorrow.

I don't sync much, so it really bothers me that the 'edit' screen for calendar events is so limited. I can't change the label (work, home, etc) and can't setup any oddball recurrances (every other Friday, 2nd Tuesday of the month, etc). These are easy to setup in the desktop app, but impossible on the iPhone.

Something I have been missing:
(multi-letter) search feature in iPod song or artist lists, similar to what is available in contacts. Just selecting the first letter only just means too much flicking to get to what I am looking for.

A small addendum to #4. In my experience, it's also important to turn off notifications during video playback (of any kind: QT in Safari, YouTube, or directly in iPod). I am in entertainment and use my iPhone to show off my work (short films, commercials, demo reels, etc) in an effort to drive work. I don't want to worry about a message popping up in the middle of the video, ruining the experience and possibly embarrassing multiple individuals based on potentially personal content.

I would love to be able to scroll to the bottom with one tap but what I would love even more is to be able to grab the little scroll bar on the right and slide up and down so I can quickly scroll to the middle of a very long page too. It's probobly gonna take some more work for that though because it would be pretty useless unless the full page was loaded in advance so I could see where to stop and that would probobly take more free memory

I would also like the maps application to have a "new directions" button so I don't have to click edit all the time and then X away the old thing and I wish there was a button I could use to click so it would put in current location in either to or from automatically

APPLE should be embarrassed that i even have to say this but.....the ability to forward a SMS text message, please :)

Definately have always thought someway to go straight to bottom would be great and i agree with tom, ifwhen you touch the screen you already see the scrolling bar on the right, why cant we just grab the darn thing and move to what part of the page we want.
Someone mentioned using two fingers to scroll faster, i have noticed that some pages( like when searching for tickets on stubhub) there is a scrolling area within the webpage as a whole, and if you want to scroll down it, tha is what you do , use two fingers instead of one.

Please, for the Love of God, fix the calendar app!! Make it so we can input appointments much quicker, like in a blackberry or palm! Just tap on the time of day, and start writing, and with a preset alarm, of course!!

I agree 100% with ana where is forward SMS I would rather that then stupid copy and paste I don't see why this is so important to everybody work on mms before that

While those 5 are good and so are the ones contributed by readers here is what aggregates me the most. Why van the Calendar app create appointments by multiple days by the users choice like the Alarm app does. If they would bring that functionality to the Calendar app my user experience would increase like 10 fold alone.

I find it truly annoying to hear notifications while on a call. Disabling notifications should have been offered since day one. Then again, so should the rest of your list.

This is why I'm just gonna keep jaol breaking. The ideas posted here are more likely to come out on a jailbroken iPhone near you. Apple's way of thinking is to keep things simple. For this reason it is like pulling teeth to get them to gives us toggles users can turn on and off like autocorrect.(after a bunch outspoken users complained and petitioned Apple) They don't want to confuse and intimidate the less tech savvy. Sucks for people like me who love to tweak and personolize. I say check out this site to read about jailbrokens apps available: http://www.installerapps.com/

The scrool down feature could be fixed this way: Press the top of the screen, HOLD down your finger, drag it to the bottom. Or, anywhere you want to stop. No more flick, flick, flick. Takes too long, and REALLY smudges up the screen......

Snooze for appointment alarms. If they go off and you have a bunch of other notifications, most times you don't even see them and when you unlock your phone, they disappear. I am constantly forgetting to do stuff that I want to be reminded of. Also, the ability to mark messages as "important". Not sure if that exists, but I haven't been able to figure it out.