Apple's iPhone is amazing. But with a few more tweaks and refinements, the new iPhone 5 could be the best Apple smartphone ever. Here's a list of five features CIO.com blogger James A. Martin would love to see.
UPDATES: See additions to Dropbox and Google Maps sections below.
Today is the iPhone’s fifth birthday. I sang “Happy Birthday” to my phone, and it managed to keep a straight face as I croaked. I blew out a virtual birthday candle using a free candle-blowing app. And I made a wish. Several wishes, in fact.
All of my wishes relate to features I’d love to see in the upcoming iPhone 5 (or whatever Apple may call it). Plenty of rumors have been floated about Apple’s next smartphone. For example, the iPhone 5 could have an NFC chip for mobile payments. The screen could increase in size from 3.5 inches to 4 inches. The iPhone 5 will reportedly have a smaller dock connector and an HD front-facing camera. And it could launch in September.
That all sounds great. But here are the five features I’m really wishing for.
* A better speaker. Trying to talk to someone via speakerphone on the iPhone 4S, especially in the car, is so frustrating that I don’t even bother anymore. Music playback in an otherwise quiet space is acceptable but not exactly room rocking. I realize there’s not a lot of space inside the iPhone for highly sophisticated speakers. But please, Apple, consider upgrading the iPhone’s tinny-sounding speaker.
* A dedicated camera button. I know I’m swimming upstream in asking Apple to add another button to the nearly button-less iPhone. And yes, I know there’s a camera icon on the lock screen, and you can use the “up” volume button as a camera shutter release. But think about it: A dedicated camera button, when clicked once, would turn on the phone and launch the camera app. Give the camera button two clicks, and the camera app would launch in video recording mode.
* Dropbox integration. When I snap a photo on my Android phone, I have multiple ways to share it, including uploading it to my Dropbox account. The iPhone, alas, doesn’t support that feature. The lack of Dropbox integration appears to be a result of Apple’s App Store policies because “someone using an app with Dropbox integration could end up on Dropbox’s website and find a way to pay Dropbox for additional storage,” according to the blog iMore. “That would violate Apple’s prohibition against using external websites to circumvent Apple’s 30% cut of subscriptions.”
UPDATE: A Dropbox PR rep informed me that the instant image upload feature was added to the latest iOS version of Dropbox on June 21. Read more about it on the Dropbox blog.
* A standalone Google Maps app. Apple is giving Google Maps the heave-ho with iOS 6 in favor of its own, new Maps app, which I wrote about in “How Apple’s iOS Maps App Might Steer You Wrong.” Maybe the Apple Maps app will make me forget Google Maps. But I have my doubts, and I’d like to be able to install Google Maps as an alternative. (As far as I’ve read, Google hasn’t announced a standalone Google Maps app for iOS.)
UPDATE: A Google executive recently confirmed that a Google Maps standalone app will be coming to iOS.
* A 4.5-inch screen. These days, I go back and forth between my iPhone’s 3.5-inch screen and my Samsung Galaxy Note’s 5.3-inch display. The iPhone screen now seems too small; the Galaxy Note’s size makes it slightly unwieldy. The Goldilocks version would be something in between, around 4.5 inches. I seriously doubt Apple will enlarge the iPhone screen that much. But, hey, this is my wish list, not a prediction of what’s likely to happen.
What about your iPhone 5 wish list? What features would you love to see on the next iPhone and why?
James A. Martin is a seasoned tech journalist and blogger based in San Francisco and winner of the 2014 ASBPE National Gold award for his CIO.com blog. He writes CIO.com's Living the Tech Life blog and is also a content marketing consultant.