What I’d Like In iPhone 4G [Features]

The iPad hype is finally over, and now Apple fanboy attention turns to June/July, when the annual WWDC — World Wide Developers Conference — is held at the Moscone Centre, San Francisco.

This is usually the time when Apple CEO Steve Jobs takes the stage at the developer conference to deliver the opening keynote. More importantly, it’s when the fruity company we’ve all come to love and hate announces the next iPhone.

The tentative name for the new Apple phone is the “iPhone 4G”, alluding to the continuation from the old “3G” moniker. Whilst it may not actually include 4G network technology, as its predecessor, the 3G did, the 4G tag may identify this phone as the true 4th version of the iPhone.

And as we near the WWDC 2010, rumours are abound of suspected pictures of the next iPhone. I used to own an iPhone 3G, but gave it up in favour of a Nokia N79 due to the frustrating limitations of the phone — no multitasking, lack of video recording, high data costs — but my attention is slowly returning to Cupertino’s mobile venture as Apple has now included many of those features I once detested the iPhone for lacking.

So here’s my wishlist of features the next iPhone should have. Note that many of these are very fantastical, and may not even make it to the finished product come WWDC 2010.

Slide-out Keyboard

Perhaps the one feature that’ll never,ever make it to the next iPhone, the slide-out keyboard is a feature that I feel would still be pretty cool on an iPhone. Similar to how Nokia did it with the N97 (except, of course, that the keyboard arrangement should be better thought-out) having a physical keyboard would allow users to type longer text more efficiently on the iPhone. Screen gestures and “tap-to-type” could still be useful for quickly checking mail, responding to messages or searching for a file on the phone.

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iChat for iPhone

Recent rumors say that the next iPhone will have a front-facing camera. If this is true, then it goes without saying that Apple will include a mobile version of its instant messaging application made popular on the Mac, iChat. From this, we can expect interesting things like video calling and access to Gtalk, Jabber, AIM and other IM buddies. However, knowing Apple, the video calling feature might be tied in to a data or voice plan, and incur extra charges when you make this type of call.

Accelerometer Lock

The iPad has it, so this is a feature that could actually end up in the final product. It gets really annoying to use the iPhone when lying on your side in bed; tilting it sideways changes the orientation of the screen. The iPad fixed this problem with a dedicated key, the “screen lock” key that “freezes” the current screen orientation. It’d be great if Apple included it in the iPhone 4G (or whatever they decide to call it).

Informative Standby Screen

Currently, the “lock” screen or standby screen isn’t that informative. All it displays is the current time and date, and if you have any latest messages or notifications, that’ll appear on the screen. With the next iPhone, let’s hope that Apple addresses this with adding things like upcoming appointments, to-do list items, etc. Already, the new APIs in the iPhone OS 4.0 point to some interesting things that can be done with the home screen. Let’s see what developers can come up with using them

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This is just a few of my ideas that I hope the next iPhone will have. Of course, none of them may even end up in the finished product, and the only way we’ll know this is come WWDC 2010, set to happen in June/July this year.