Is Apple dropping the ball on iPhone features?

I do really like my shiny new iPhone – it’s a thing of beauty, both hardware- and software-wise – but waiting for new features from Apple can be a frustrating experience.

The newest iPhone firmware, version 2.2, looks set to hit an iPhone near you soon. Its main new feature appears to be Google Street View incorporated into the Maps application. Now, Street View is pretty cool (and getting cooler all the time), and the transit directions do look genuinely useful (if you live in a city). But I do wonder what goes on inside Apple execs’ heads sometimes. How is Street View a more important feature than:

  • Text selection
  • Cut/copy/paste
  • Flash
  • To Do lists
  • Syncable notes
  • MMS


At least the update features a revamped Mobile Safari, which hopefully fixes the crashing bugs that plague the current version (I’ve had my iPhone for just over a week, and I swear Safari has quit on me at least 20 times). However I’ve started to get really quite frustrated with no text selection and no clipboard. It makes things like deleting large amounts of text very hard work, and sending multiple links or photos in an email message is next to impossible.

I’m not a big fan of Flash-based websites, but I have come across at least two sites in the last week that I simply can’t view on my iPhone due to no Flash support.

I’ve managed to solve the To Do list problem myself with the excellent Things; however it seems bizarre that Apple doesn’t include To Dos in the iPhone when they’ve even shoehorned them into things like Leopard’s Mail. And what’s the point of a built-in Notes app if it can’t sync its notes with the Mac? Unbelievable.

Oh well – roll on version 2.3…

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5 Responses to “Is Apple dropping the ball on iPhone features?”

  1. mark Says:

    Agree about to do lists, and syncable notes. Apple should get these done.

    Cut/copy/paste is a harder issue as it is intertwined with iPhone’s sandbox security. Plus once Apple lays out the UI for it, it’ll be pretty much written in stone, so Apple better get it right. (A text selection UI is closely related to this, so I see it as part of the same issue.)

    MMS, I believe, is a policy issue – Apple is trying to kill MMS and have people move to email. I’m sure the carriers are asking for MMS, since it’s a huge moneymaker for them, so Apple may try to trade it for some other concession from the carriers (in the same way I believe SMS was a bargaining chip).

    Flash has been said to be too much of a hog (don’t know how true this is). Plus policy-wise, I think Apple doesn’t want Flash riding on top of (and changing) the iPhone’s UI.

  2. James Katt Says:

    Flash will NEVER come to the iPhone.
    It is NOT an open-source internationally-approved web-standard.
    Its specifications are proprietary and change often depending on Adobe’s whim.
    Further, Adobe discriminates against Apple in programming Flash. Flash 10, for example, runs TEN TIMES SLOWER on Mac OS X using the SAME HARDWARE as Flash 10 on Vista.
    Allowing Flash makes the iPhone second rate compared to the speed of Flash on Windows Mobile and other platforms.
    It is FAR BETTER to let Flash die by not allowing it on the iPhone – or even the Android Phone – since Android is open-source as well.

    MMS is an AT&T Problem. AT&T prohibits MMS on the iPhone. It specifically blocks MMS from iPhones even if the iPhone has software that can do MMS.

  3. Tim Says:

    MMS isn’t available anywhere so it’s not just a US AT&T issue. I agree with Mark: Apple isn’t that interested in it. Flash will come the iPhone based on Adobe’s efforts rather than Apple’s. And I for one hate the idea of web sites relying on Flash.

    My #1 is text selection and clipboard. And I agree that street view is a long way down the “needs” list … but maybe it’s more a Google effort and Apple didn’t have to do much to add it?

  4. Matt Says:

    Thanks for your great comments!

    Cut/copy/paste is the big one for me. I’ve seen the demo video of MagicPad’s select/copy/paste and it doesn’t seem like the most elegant thing in the world. Check this out though – brilliant!

    @mark: I agree with you about MMS – I suspect Apple is trying to kill it off (or “hasten its demise”). Apple does tend to do that (e.g. floppy drives), and it’s no bad thing IMO.

    Yes, I’m really not that keen on Flash, and in many ways I’m glad it’s not on the iPhone. However it’s frustrating not to be able to watch things like videos on the BBC News site. Ah well – can’t have everything I suppose.

  5. Terrence Says:

    You must be new to Apple, or you’d have realised that Apple does not listen to customers. It feels it has its own compass on what customers want. Remember, Apple is Steve Jobs, and Steve only listens to himself. Between 40-60% of people want matte screens (google MATTE GLOSSY POLL), yet Steve pulls the matte screen from the iMac and MacBook Pro. This is a Microsoft monopoly mindset, except with just 8% of marketshare. In a few years time, when Apple’s marketshare gets worse, expect things to go downhill, particularly with Apple’s existing monopoly on OSX-compatible hardware. Seriously, you should have realised by now that Apple is not a customer-driven company. It is a design-driven company, and if customers are put offside by shiny new design features. Tough.