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iPhone turns 5 years old - Our future iPhone wish list
By Kristan Reed 29 June 2012
Game Name: iPhone 4S | Manufacturer: Apple | Format: iPhone
Not so long ago, if someone had told you that your humble mobile phone would also function as an HD video camera, gaming system, internet browser, email nerve centre, dictation machine, map, social networking hub, and general media guzzler, it would have made you sound like an excitable Tomorrow's World presenter.

But, in the here and now, these Swiss Army Phones have so much functionality crammed into them, there can't be many game-changing innovations in the smartphone sphere left, can there?

Well, I'm glad you asked, because now that the iPhone is officially five years old, we were wondering the same thing. Hence, we've set about listing a handful of areas in which we'd love to see Apple improve its birthday boy in future models.



Battery

Top of most people's lists of Things That Need To Be Improved About The iPhone would undoubtedly be the battery life. It's all very well having a long list of brilliant features, but they're not quite so useful when you have to keep many of them switched off to avoid running out of juice before the day is out.

Apart from Apple coming up with better power efficiencies and beefing up the iPhone's battery itself, there are two key innovations The Big A could incorporate into its blower that could finally put an end to our power-draining woes.

The first is inductive charging, a wireless system that Apple has already patented that lets you recharge your device via a dock that somehow zaps power out of thin air. Failing that, how about some WiTricity, huh?

The other, less space-age innovation would be to embed solar cells into the iPhone itself. Great for Californians, not so swell for Brits.



Screen

It's fair to say that Apple more or less nailed the mobile phone screen with the iPhone 4's Retina display, but that was two years ago. Merely upping the resolution again might keep it technically right at the bleeding edge, but would people really notice much difference? Probably not.

But, when it comes to typing on a screen, the inclusion of haptic feedback would definitely make a small but tangible improvement to the overall usability for many sausage-fingered users.

A more divisive addition would be 3D. From our experiences of the glasses-free tech doing the rounds at the moment, it's one of those innovations that's undeniably cool in the right situation for a few minutes, but not something you'd necessarily want to use very often.



Controls

With every subsequent revision, the iPhone becomes a more capable gaming system, with visuals that aren't a million miles off rivalling the current-generation home console systems'.

One day, it will pack enough grunt to handle the most demanding games. Yet, while it remains a touchscreen-only system, it will forever be hamstrung by the absence of physical controls, especially in gaming genres - like first-person shooters - that are positively crying out for them.

While a few third-party options, such as the mighty iCade Arcade Cabinet, offer you the ability to control several games via a more conventional joystick and button setup, software support is still frustratingly limited.

Were Apple to release (or endorse) an official iPhone controller peripheral, developer support would almost certainly improve dramatically. With Apple TV integration only likely to get stronger, could we finally see some sort of physical controller for iOS devices? Let's hope so.



Video

As much as the iPhone has awesome potential for watching video on the move, a combination of sluggish data speeds (certainly in the UK), a lack of storage, and the general faff of converting videos means it's rare that we find ourselves using it.

The obvious solution, of course, would be to build in a digital TV tuner. Japanese smartphone users completely take it for granted that they can watch TV in high quality on their phones on the move, but in the West we'd need to start practising some voodoo magic to do the same. And pray.

If you've ever attempted to watch Sky Go or TVCatchUp on a train in England, you'll know that our choked, flaky, and sluggish 3G networks are hopelessly ill suited for streaming video.

But, if Apple could only figure out a means of allowing us to watch free-to-air live TV on our iPhones without the constant stream buffering, we'd probably love Tim Cook and co. forever. Make it happen, please, Jony.



Audio

For anyone who likes to carry his entire life's audio collection around with him, the iPhone's somewhat limited storage capacity has long been a thorn in the side.

To an extent, streaming services like Spotify have taken care of the issue for many users, but there's nothing quite like having your own personal library of tunes accessible at all times, i.e. without the need for a data connection.

The Big A could improve the iPhone's audio 'package' in another way, too, by adding a radio tuner (preferably of the DAB variety).

While awesome apps like TuneIn Radio largely render this hardware omission moot, they do consume a lot of your precious data allowance, and fall over whenever the connection's not quite there. Give us an integrated DAB tuner, and a world of free audio is ours.
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