517: State of the iPhone

What do you want to see in the iPhone over the next few years?

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Better contextual understanding in iOS, from improved next-word entry suggestions in texts, to better understanding of questions asked of Siri, to better suggestions based on location and previous activity and searches (like Google does, but with Apple-enhanced privacy).

Better camera, better editing features, and especially better editing integration with 3rd party apps (eg I often get handles when I invoke an app like Darkroom from Photos then do multiple adjustments, but no problems using the app itself).

Dual-SIM option in the USA. (Hell, I use the phone so little in my iPhone I’d take a hard look at a dual-SIM iPod Touch.)

Better, more professional printing options in iOS, with support for photo printers.

User-selectable default apps.

Some sort of guest-account/multiple-account option.

A real multiple clipboard - or at least hooks to allow 3rd party clipboard apps to be used more transparently.

iPad/Android-like widgets (even if only on the biggest iPhone)

Expiring text messages.

Augmented hearing… with transcription and translation capabilities.

Apple VOIP service giving extra phone numbers, la Burner app or Google Voice. (And if they can do that they can sell a iPhone that doesn’t need to work with carriers except for data.)

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I’d love to see digital zoom look as good as 10x optical. I will ask for 20x as soon as that’s been achieved. :slight_smile:


What is that icon on David’s dock, on the right-hand side with the “17” badge?

  • I second @bowline on Apple VOIP and user-set default apps.
  • I’d love USB-C on iPhones so we can all live in a world where USB-C to USB-C cables are the norm - it would make travel so much easier.
  • An option to delete apps like Safari that doesn’t involve wonky Screen Time workarounds. Digital minimalism!
  • An option to reset Screen Time passwords with your Apple ID - not needing to reset your iPhone.


Of course. I should have guessed.

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User configurable default apps and USB-C are my priorities. I’ve given up on getting a phone the size I want so not even going to get my hopes up.


I think Apple is planning to bypass direct-connect USB-C. There are reports of (one?) upcoming wireless iPhone in 2021, which only makes sense (especially for people who use CarPlay) if Apple integrates a Smart Connector derived from its iPads… which could theoretically work with USB-C dongles and hubs.

I think Apple, which makes some nice money with its MFI program (for Lightning, and before that its 30-pin dock connector) would likely go that route instead of replacing one port with another, given the benefits it sees to sealed units (regardless of what some consumers think or want). The Lightning connector was introduced with the iPhone 5 in 2012 (and iPad 4), five years after using the 30-pin connector, and the 3.5" headphone jack was first removed in 2016. So a 7-year cycle for eliminating the Lightning port entirely (and five years for the removal of the headphone port) would not be surprising to me.

More importantly: David, why ‘70s-wallpaper-green?

jk. It is an inspiringly sleek homescreen. Gives me something to do on a plane today…


They would have to massively revise the smart connector to make it charge things at anything approaching fast speeds. And as good as wireless technology gets, it is never going to be better than a plain copper wire for speed and reliability.

Maybe I’m biased, I’m still sore about the headphone jack removal. Airpods (Pro) are good, but still not better than just being able to plug into things without carrying a fragile dongle.

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State of the iPhone. Well, I just bought a brand new iPhone 8 with Battery Case from Apple to replace my iPhone 7 with Apple trade-in.

It’s nuts, I know. But I like the form size of the 7 and 8. I don’t like the new larger sized iPhones.

I plan to hold on to the 8 for a few years and see where we are. I imagine that it will be unable to run iOS 15 when we get there and then I’ll ditch it.

I second the vote for user-configurable default apps. I’d rather Apple spend more time developing the core OS and letting third-parties build out the best-quality apps in the various categories. That’s not a complaint against the so-called stock apps. I use and real like a lot of them (music, calendar, mail, and podcasts in particular).

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How massively? I’m not an electrical engineer, but given that report that Ming Chi Kuo, who has a pretty good track record on these leaks, it makes sense that Apple has been working on a Smart Connector variant that features high-speed MagSafe charging and data transfer for things like older vehicles with wired CarPlay via a simple magnetic attachment. (There’s no way a portless iPhone would be considered if it couldn’t adequately support current CarPlay needs.)

Siri will be 10 years old in a few weeks and still runs a distant third behind Alexa (4 years old) and Google Assistant (3.5 years old). At least in the tasks that I need in a digital assistant.

It appears to me that Apple’s on-device approach isn’t able to match the horsepower available to cloud based assistants. Perhaps Apple will take another approach when/if the global powers that be force them to backdoor IOS. I expect this will happen in the near future, and Australia’s new law may be the method used.

A huge second to this. Widgets on the lock screen should be securely doable now with Face ID. Require Face ID in order to use widgets which would protect the data exposed by widgets on the lock screen (not revealed until Face ID kicks in, just like for Messages and most other apps).

To keep me focused and on task, I really, really, really want my task manager’s Today view (I use Things) to be in my face All. Day. Long. The lock screen is really the only way to accomplish this goal but Apple refuses to allow anything custom on this crucial screen (other than notifications).

My current workaround is to try to remember to tap the Things complication on my  Watch as often as possible but I have to remember to do it. With a lock screen widget, my most important tasks would just be there every time I picked up my phone.

Yes, I could put Things in the large complication spot on my  Watch but that only shows 1 task (limited usefulness) AND then I’m unable to put the Calendar complication in the large slot. I look at Calendar on my Watch for my next appointment almost as much as the time, so I’m definitely not giving that up.

Also USB-C can’t be said enough.

I’m going to guess it’s “Baby Yoda Green” :smirk:

…and now I’m going to use it too.

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In talking about not putting a back door in for a country Russia has introduced (it may have passed) requiring phones and computers to have russian software preloaded which some have seen it as them wanting control of their citizens phones.

Just following in the general path of China. The China/WeChat approach: block everything you can’t surveil, then get a proxy company beholden and friendly to government data requests to build a chat app that you permit to take over, with unfettered access within the country.

Same thing happened with ToTok, a UAE government-backed chat app that (ridiculously, dangerously) doesn’t use end to end encryption, appearing in a limited internet environment for consumers where many apps don’t work well, and aren’t optimized for the local language. And then all of a sudden you’ve got this chat app that does everything for free for you, gives you all this data, and it offers reliable messaging when other apps don’t… and it just so happens that the UAE government is hoovering up all the data. It’s the China playbook. App’s not that great (and based on code ripped off from other sources) but it works and works better than the other options in the UAE. But through diasporan network effects and natural virality of social network apps resulted in its also becoming one of the top-downloaded chat apps in the USA.

In Russia’s case the putative (but transparently false) reason to mandate local apps be preloaded is to help Russian tech companies be more competitive with their western counterparts and offer consumers the “right to choose” domestically-produced alternatives. (“Oleg Nikolayev, one of the lawmakers who authored the bill, said Russian consumers may not realize that there are Russian-made alternatives to the Western apps which come pre-installed on smartphones.”) But this comes at a time when Russia ordered Google to remove websites from its search results in Russia, and authorities have (largely) banned Telegram, and the law extends to TVs and PCs. Clearly, tech is being used in unsavory ways for governments to monitor and control (and scare into submission) parts of the populace.