For a couple of years my oldest son begged me for an iPhone. I finally gave in and now, after almost a year, he wants an Android phone. So I asked him why. He said that they are just better. I needed more concrete reasons, so I challenged him. If he could give me some give good reasons, then I would consider it when his current contract runs out in this summer. His iPhone is a lowly 3G and there is a slight crack in the screen. I’d likely be getting him a new phone anyway, but don’t tell him that.
The list of reasons Android is better than an iPhone, is also a good list of things that Apple needs to change for the iPhone 5 to take on the range of new Android devices.
Messaging & Notifications
Being a texting teenager, the first thing he mentioned was text messaging. He would like Apple to improve the way text messaging works. First, the notifications are confusing. He suggested that if a text message arrives and is displayed on the screen and then another one arrives, show them both. At the least he wishes iOS showed the list of names of the persons who have sent him text messages within a short time period. Understand that as a teenager he sometimes gets ten or fifteen text messages in a minute.
Secondly, he would like to reply directly from the home screen. For example, if he gets a message from his dad, his friend and his girlfriend all in about 15 seconds time, then let him pick which person to reply to first by tapping reply and type in the message directly from the home screen without ever opening another app. Naturally he’d pick me first right?
After he is finished replying to all of them or closing all of them, the phone would then just shut off. The Messages app would never really open unless he told the notification screen to take him there so he could view a conversation or send a new message.
I’m not sure if this is technologically feasible but it sounds like a good system. However they choose to improve text messaging, Apple has to do something. The current system of notifications is pretty weak.
Form Factor & Display
The second suggestion was that they make the iPhone resemble the iPad 2 with a thinner case that is also slightly larger. He likes the big screens of the Android phones he has seen his friends use. He doesn’t like the iPhone 4’s squared look. He prefers the way his 3G feels with the rounded edges on the back. This is one I don’t agree with, but then again I’m not holding my iPhone in my hands for 10 hours a day like he is as he sends almost 1,492 text messages an hour. That is an exaggeration, but you get the point. It is possible that his wishes for the rounded edge might be coming if the images are accurate which were posted by the Engadget pilgrims at their new site This is My Next.
The other thing he would prefer is a bigger screen. He wants it to cover the entire front of the screen. Get rid of the home button and have only a small sliver at the top for the camera and ear speaker. The slightly wider and taller iPhone would make it more like the large screens found on the HTC Thunderbolt and other Android devices. The retina display should be kept, but just make it slightly bigger.
I love this idea of a larger screen, but I don’t want to give up the physical button. Take screen shots with the home and sleep buttons is easy. Taking away the home button might make this more challenging. He never does this, but I do it all the time.
An aesthetic preference would be colors other than black. Now we know the white iPhone 4 is supposed to be forthcoming, but he doesn’t want white either. He’d like to have other colors without having to skin the phone or put a case on it. With dad forking over the cash, he better be putting a case on that thing. But a clear protective case would show off the cool colors too.
I don’t have a problem with my son’s third suggestion, but I don’t believe it will ever happen. Apple likes to keep things simple and they had a tough enough time getting white to work for some reason. I can’t see them release red, blue or yellow phones. We’d all be talking about the old candy colored iMacs and iBooks.
The last thing he mentioned was the keyboard. He likes the different keyboards of the Android phones. He also likes touch screen keyboards. So he would prefer one that combines Swipe with the iPhone touch screen keyboard. I was surprised that, with as much text messaging as he does, he wouldn’t want a slide up QWERTY keyboard. He said, “No, I like the touch screen keyboard. I’ll never go back!”
Due to patent issues I don’t see Apple including Swipe or anything like it in an upcoming iOS update. But it would be nice if someone at Apple could find a way to improve the iPhone keyboard autocorrection. I still pine away for the days of my old Palm Treo 600 keyboard. I am constantly mistyping things on my keyboard and the built-in error correction works some of the time, but often gets me into trouble as it changes words I don’t want changed to words I would never use. With a whole website dedicated to posting these funny and often embarrassing instances of bad autocorrect, clearly something needs to be done.
My son is using an iPhone 3G with the old pre-iPhone 4 camera. He said he’d like a better camera. If he only gets my old iPhone 4, then he will get his wish. It is possible the iPhone 5 may have an 8MP camera. The other thing he mentioned was the ability to quickly engage the camera, like some Android phones can with a dedicated camera button. It sure would be nice if Apple had one too just below or above the volume/mute buttons. Another solution would be to make it possible to press one of the volume buttons while also pressing the home or sleep button to automatically start either the built-in Camera app or better yet your chosen camera app like Camera+, which is one of our favorites. With more people using their cell phones as cameras, having the ability to pull out the phone, tap a button and then point and shoot a photo or video would be really nice. This is especially so with a really good camera on these phones.
So will my son be getting a new iPhone this summer or an Android phone? We will see when we know more about what the next iPhone looks like. Maybe Apple will meet his demands and he will want to stick with iOS. I doubt it though. Most likely he will have to settle for a hand-me-down iPhone. That’s how we usually get our kids “new” phones unless they pay for them.