Apple: Make Me Want It

I own an Android phone. It is an EVO 4G, and I only own it because my work offers it for free. However, I am in the market to buy a new phone this year.

Whenever I don't have my phone on me, I use my wife's iPhone 4. I can immediately tell the difference in touch responsiveness, keyboard prediction, speed and general ease of use, and I say to myself "wow, I need an iPhone". But then my eyes hurt from the smaller screen as I try to fool with some of the settings or customize it to no avail, and I just get bored and frustrated. I feel like I am in OS prison (or at least juvenile hall).

I love Apple's ability to design software with (beautiful) hardware, but just can't bring myself to committing to what seems like a somewhat outdated system that seems like it should do a whole lot more. So as a plea to Apple, these are the improvements that will convince me to buy the iPhone 5.

1. Gestures

At this point, I don't think that Apple will change how the actual homescreen looks or functions, but they have great potential to improve the UI through gestures. Perhaps a swipe from right edge to open settings. Swipe from left edge to open a "card-like" view (that looks different enough from WebOS not to get sued). Maybe three fingers down to enable airplay to a tv. Some of these more interesting interactions is something niether Android or Apple have taken advantage of, and I think Apple has a better platform to enable these interactions. The problem Apple has with this is probably the fact that creating multiple gestures makes things "complicated"... an attribute they know many iPhone users are trying to avoid.

2. Larger screen

I know this is an obvious improvement that would only be catching up with Android. But if they could create a Retina display that was 4.3 inches or so, I think this would be hard to turn down. I feel that some of the Galaxy S II-ish sized devices are a little big for the average consumer Apple is targetting, so I don't think they would go much bigger than 4 inches, but I would be happy with 4.3".

3. Navigation App

The one thing I use on my Android phone that I can honestly say beats Apple hands down is Google Navigation. If Apple was able to introduce a turn by turn navigation app that integrated with Siri, it would be a pretty compelling feature (that I would probably pay for).

4. More Customization

With Android, I feel like I can do whatever I want on my phone. That isn't to say this is always a great thing. The more options it gives me to customize, the more overwhelming it can feel when trying to choose how I want it laid out. Sometimes I wish there were great default themes that I could apply and then make minor adjustments based on my preferences (instead of building it out from scratch). But this more of a good thing than not. I'd rather have too many options than not enough. Give me more, Apple. Some realistic suggestions could be:

  • Stylized themes that can be downloaded from the app store (created by devs). E.g., give all icons a blue tint or a specific gradient. This would keep them uniform as Apple likes it, but give me a little more freedom.
  • The ability to stylize the settings menu with different themes
  • Customize how Siri's voice sounds

5. Make iCloud Easier

I feel like iCloud is complicated. This may be because I am used to Apple services being fit for a 7-yr old, or maybe I just don't know enough about it since I don't actually use an iDevice with it regularly (again, I use my wife's from time to time). But it certainly looks confusing; especially iCloud Match. If Apple is having trouble explaining to customers one of their services, there is a serious problem with that service. So Apple: Just put all my content on all my Apple devices. Period. Photos, Music, Videos, Documents, all of it. Don't explain how to sync each one separately. Don't make me pay to sync some and not others. Just tell me you'll do it all, then just do it with a single "opt in" on my part. This is how your services usually work, and if you can't make it as easy as you'd like, just don't offer it yet because it is making me think less of you.

If Apple could do even any 3 of these 5 items (probably less), I will probably switch over to an iPhone. I hope manufacturers really nail it with some of the Android 4.0 devices yet to be released this fall, but history tells me they will shoot themselves in the foot with bulky OS skins and poor battery life. May the best device win.