There's only a few months to go until the rumor mill begins to speculate that the next-generation iPhone may be on its way/late/set for 2012, but what follows are five dream features for the iPhone 5, whenever it actually does 'turn real'.
1. You talking to me?
There's such a long way to go before speech recognition becomes absolutely perfect, but continued improvements within MacSpeech (now Dragon Dictate for Mac) show that these things are ever so possible. Apple already offers Voice Controls which let you initiate contact calling (full list here), but what about:
- Dictation of email messages, memos and documents using my iPhone -- why not?
- Further improvements in translation services.
- Direction finding using Maps
- Vocal MMS
Fans of cult TV series, Fringe will understand. Walter Bishop is your classic 'Mad Scientist' archetype. His level of genius is the kind of intelligence this world needs to resolve the ever-vexing challenge of developing rock hard identity security technologies.
We need rock hard security to protect us as we move into another phase of smartphone evolution, the beginnings of the cashless society, in which your RFID-enabled phone isn't just a device which carries all your personal data, but also becomes the key to your bank account, car and home.
While theoretically possible, such implementations can only really hit the mass market once an iPhone Walter Bishop develops a security protocol (possibly combining fingerprint, heartbeat and conventional password identification systems) that organized crime cannot break. (If such thing is possible).
3. Set me free, why don't you?
The natural evolution of the iTunes Cloud, Wireless Sync would let you update content on your iPhone without the rigamarole of finding the right cable, plugging it in and waiting around. It would free you from your Mac and enable your iPhone to sync itself whenever you happened to be hanging around at home.
It may seem a minor thing to wish for, but the only cable I want to use with my iPhone is the one which plugs it into power. That's if I couldn't replace a spent battery with a freshly recharged one. Wireless Sync would boost usability.
In an email this summer, Apple CEO Steve Jobs said that wireless sync would make it to use "someday". Which is neither a promise nor a commitment, but still makes the appearance of such a feature the tiniest little bit more probable.
4. Facetime for 3G and 4G
That's two wishes. US readers will certainly be wishing the iPhone 5 will support 4G networks, if only so we can expect it being made available on carriers such as Verizon and Sprint. After all, Verizon CEO Ivan Seidenberg said last week, "I think 4G will accelerate the process, and any other decisions Apple makes would be fine with us," he added. "Hopefully, at some point Apple will get with the program."
Beyond this, I'm hoping Apple maintains Facetime development to enable calls using the video chat software over 3G and 4G networks, rather than only via WiFi. I also hope to see the solution appear for Mac and Windows PCs alongside devices from other manufacturers.
5. It just works
Sure, we know the iPhone 4 antenna attenuation issue is "even smaller than [Apple] originally thought", but this wasn't all really just hype, was it? This leaves us with one small wish. Improve the antenna for iPhone 5. And work to make this a better phone, with better reception and no dropped calls. I want to hear statistics claiming zero percent call failure. That is all.
5(a). One more thing
Give icons extra purpose. Let the Twitter icon allow live updates of your Twitter status, let you create desktop shortcuts for calls to particular people, allow your most recent messages to pop-up on screen before entering the Mail App.
These features are already available to Android OS users. I'd also like the capacity to turn Bluteooth, WiFi or GPS to be available as icons on the desktop, rather than nested inside the 'Settings' menu.
We already know we can predict a faster processor and more memory, but what other features would you like to see in iPhone 5? Let me know in comments below (at Computerworld, where this report is originally published).