First Look: iPhone fixes we want to see

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Give us storage capabilities: You can use any iPod as a removable drive to store and transfer files by enabling Disk Mode via iTunes. However, despite being a member of the extended iPod family—it syncs via iTunes, after all—the iPhone doesn’t offer this option. We hope Apple eventually offers this feature via a software update; until then, you can approximate it using iPhoneDrive.)

Let us edit documents Mail on the iPhone lets you view Word, Excel, and text documents, but this tantalizing preview mode omits the corresponding ability to make changes to those documents—a feature available on nearly every competing smartphone. Given that the iPhone runs a version of Mac OS X, and that Apple already has technology for editing Word documents—and perhaps Excel soon —it doesn’t seem unreasonable to hope that the iPhone will eventually gain the ability to edit such documents.—DF

Internet

Apple famously contends that the iPhone’s browser delivers the true Internet. For the most part it does—but here are a pair of fixes that would help it deliver even more.

Add Flash support in Safari: For the most part, the Safari browser on iPhone delivers Web pages exactly like you’d expect from a computer-based browser. One of the more glaring exceptions, however, involves its inability to show Flash. So many Web sites rely on this Adobe plug-in that it’s hard to consider the iPhone’s Web experience truly “real.” Want to watch a live baseball game on MLB Gameday? Sorry, that’s a Flash app. How about an embedded video on a blog? Sorry, that’s almost invariably a Flash movie. If Safari on the iPhone gains support for Flash, on the other hand, you’ll be hard pressed not to call it what it is: the real real Internet.

I know iChat, SMS, and you are no iChat.

Add a true iChat/AIM client: We’re staggeringly reliant on instant messaging here at Macworld to do our jobs; we also use it to stay in touch with friends on-the-go. And yet the iPhone, an otherwise peerless communications device, falls down hard when it comes to supporting instant messaging: it just doesn’t. There’s an SMS client that looks like iChat and lets you send text messages to other mobile phones. But how does that help me look at my buddy list and start a conversation with a friend? There are several Web-based workarounds, such as TinyBuddy IM, but nothing will match an actual instant-messaging program running on the iPhone, alerting me to incoming chats and letting me natively browse my buddy lists. C’mon, Apple—the SMS app is halfway there. The iPhone should be the best instant-messaging device in the world. Make it happen.—JASON SNELL

The rest

To paraphrase a Steve Jobs keynote, two more things…

Add video capture: Nowadays, most phones with a built-in camera can also capture video using that camera. Although the iPhone’s camera isn’t the best on the market, it’s respectable, so it should be able to handle basic video. (And given that the iPhone had a built-in YouTube client, wouldn’t it be cool if you could capture video and upload it directly to YouTube?)

Allow third-party applications: You didn’t think we’d leave this one out, did you? We understand wanting to keep the iPhone “locked down” for security and stability reasons. And we could even go along—partially—with the theory that Apple wanted people to get used to the “true” iPhone experience before letting third-party developers spoil it. But the truth is the iPhone could be doing so much more right now with a little help from third-party developers. But we think the company will indeed open the iPhone to such development, even if third-party apps have to be “certified” by Apple.—DF

[ Dan Frakes, Dan Moren, Rob Griffiths, Jim Dalrymple, and Jason Snell all contribute regularly to Macworld’s iPhone Central blog. ]

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