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Some New Year’s Resolutions for Steve Jobs

January 2nd, 2008 · 2 Comments

So—like about half of the human race, to judge by the subways last week—I got an iPhone for Christmas, and it is, in fact, roughly as awesome as advertised. But there are some weird little omissions—thinks that it seems obvious the phone should be able to do, and that, moreover, seem like they’d be pretty easy to code and add in the next update. From simple to more complicated:

  • Adding numbers: One of the phone’s nifty features is that phone numbers in e-mails or on Web pages are hotlinked, so you can tap them to bring up an option to call the number. But oddly, there’s no button in that dialog to add the number to your contacts, which is presumably what you often want to do with a phone number that someone has e-mailed you.

  • Multi-person texting: You really ought to be able to SMS more than one recipient at a time. One of the main reasons I’ll sometimes use text rather than calling is precisely that I want to quickly ping, say, half a dozen people to say “What’s going on tonight?” or “I’m at X if anyone wants to come by.” Sure, that’s what Twitter is for, but sometimes you don’t want to blast everyone you’re vaguely acquainted with.

  • Bluetooth for iPod The iPhone works with Bluetooth headsets, but only for phone calls, not for listening to music. So if you’re listening to music, you need to unplug the headphones, put on the headset, and then answer the call. This sort of defeats the purpose of a Bluetooth headset, which is to take your calls without fumbling around for your phone.

  • Video recording: The iPhone camera is pretty great, but it seems you can’t get a couple of tin cans connected by string without a video-enabled camera these days, so it’s sort of odd that the Device of the Future doesn’t have the option. Especially since an integrated device like this holds out the possibility of recording videoblogs and the like out in the field and remotely posting them to YouTube. I initially thought this was just an issue of hardware—maybe they had to use a camera chip that wasn’t video capable to save space or something—but someone has come up with an app to do this so I’m not sure why it isn’t native and fully integrated.

Moving away from stuff that could be done quickly and put in an update, here’s something that just seems like a cool possibility further down the line, but which I’m sure the RIAA will fight with its last breath to prevent. As more and more people start carrying around WiFi-enabled handheld devices that also have music on them, what if bars and cafes and the like provided functionality that would create a kind of spontaneous jukebox based on what their customers already like? I’m imagining a scenario where a DJ has a sound system hooked to a router that pings all the networked players customers have on them, and then pulls a list of the stuff that appears most frequently for a playlist the DJ can then vet. Or over time, through social filtering, you could use people’s existing playlists to create a playlist of music that patrons don’t have, but would be likely to enjoy. It might even act as an incentive to drag your friends out to the pub, so you’ve got a critical mass to guarantee congenial music.

Tags: Tech and Tech Policy



2 responses so far ↓

  • 1 LP // Jan 2, 2008 at 11:57 pm

    “Or over time, through social filtering, you could use people’s existing playlists to create a playlist of music that patrons don’t have, but would be likely to enjoy.”

    Pandora + the awesome power of social networks? Where do I sign up? Is this technologically possible right now? Because I would be more than willing to round up a few of the out-of-work Web2.0 entrepreneurs who are always to be found around Boulder, and direct them at this problem…

  • 2 Tom // Jan 3, 2008 at 10:23 am

    The social jukebox idea is very, very cool. But yeah — it’ll be a different world before that can arrive. I’ve thought for a while that bars and gyms should set up a web interface where regulars/members can collaboratively choose a playlist for the venue. But obviously that hasn’t happened…

    Good news on the multiple recipient SMS front, though: the next iPhone firmware update is reported to include that functionality. Seems like a good bet that it’ll be rolled out on the 15th at MacWorld.