Wanted: The Demise of Several iPhone Irritations

| Ted Landau's User Friendly View

I woke up in a cranky mood this morning. For some odd reason, the source of my mood appears to be minor iPhone annoyances. I say odd because normally I wake up waxing poetic about the marvels of the iPhone (ask my wife if you need confirmation of this).

The irritable mood is nothing serious. I'm sure it will pass by the end of the day. But before it does, in the spirit of "crankiness seeks company," I thought I'd share my list of annoyances with you.

Wanted: a better organized iPhone Home. Here's my vote for what should be #1 on the list of new iPhone features coming in the next OS upgrade: A better way to organize the apps on the Home screen. Enough with having to depend on jiggling icons.

For example, I'd like to place all my game apps on consecutive Home screens. Instead, I now have games spread out over 5 of my 7 Home screens. The prospect of rearranging them, without unintentionally disrupting the order of anything else, has been too daunting for me to want to think about. Maybe after drinking several cups of coffee balanced out with a tranquilizer; otherwise, no.

Suggested OS improvement: Allow users to order the apps in iTunes on a Mac/PC, and have that arrangement sync to the iPhone. Even better, how about folders for the Home screen?

Wanted: An iPhone Undo. Forget about about the long-lamented copy-and-paste for the iPhone. Sure I look forward to having that option some day, but a much more critical and immediate need is an Undo command. The other day, I was back-space deleting text and I accidentally kept going past the the desired deletion point. I wound up deleting a name and address that I did not have memorized and had no quick way to recall. A simple Undo would have saved the day. Instead, the data are now lost forever in iPhone limbo.

Wanted: more convenient app installing. Okay, I know I'm nit-picking here. But here goes.

How about a preference option that, if selected, would result in all updates to apps in your iTunes Library automatically downloaded to iTunes on launch? Then, on the next sync of an iPhone, iTunes would list all available updated apps and ask if you wanted them installed. One click and it's done. No need to keep checking to see if and when updates are available.

Actually, I would prefer iTunes to similarly ask before installing newly downloaded apps onto a device. This would be especially helpful for me because I sync two iPhones and two iPod touches to my Mac. Sometimes, I download an app that I only want on one of the four devices. Yet, the way it works now, unless I remember to unselect an unwanted app from the Applications list of each device at the time of its next sync, the app automatically gets transfered. To avoid this, I have to scroll though the list of apps and hope I can recall and find the ones I want to uncheck.

Wanted: Consistent audiobook labeling. This one can't be remedied by Apple. Instead, it requires the creators of audiobooks to make an infinitesimal effort, one they appear unwilling or unable to do.

My wife regularly gets audiobooks on CD and copies them to iTunes, so she can listen to the book from her iPhone. Almost inevitably, she finds that each CD of a book uses a different naming scheme. For example, the book's title on the first CD might be listed as "Mystery of the Missing iPhone (Disc 1)" while the second CD lists the title as "The Mystery of the Missing iPhone - 2." Is this a deliberate conspiracy to make it hard to organize a book into a sequential playlist? Or is it just sloppiness on the part of the audiobook's creators? I hope it's the former. I'd rather believe the manufacturers are devious than incompetent.

Wanted: Less ratings Why does everything on the Internet need to have a rating? Really, there are things that don't seem to cry out "Rate me." Case in point, articles in the AP Mobile News Network app on my iPhone. At the conclusion of each article, you can enter a rating -- as well as view the average of all submitted ratings. Assuming I hoped to use the rating as an aid to decide whether to read the article, what's the point of posting the rating at the very end (where I typically see it only after I've already read the article)? At a minimum, if you're going to have ratings, display them along with the headlines.

Even if the ratings are properly located, there's still the larger question: what does a rating mean here? Does it represent how interesting an article is, how newsworthy an article is, how well an article is written or what? Without knowing anything about the basis for the ratings, they are pretty much worthless.

But it's all part of the trend to rate everything. Coming soon: An option to rate email messages? I can imagine a Web site where you could find postings like this: "Jack Brown's February 7, 2009 email to Sally Jones, titled "Re: our meeting yesterday" was rated only two stars. The email was poorly composed, filled with spelling errors, several paragraphs too long and so boring that Sally fell asleep midway through reading it."

Tip: Want to know how to obtain iTunes Store URLs, such as the one for the Mobile News Network app cited above? Just go to an app's page in the iTunes Store, access the contextual menu of the app's name and select "Copy iTunes Store URL."

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“...access the contextual menu of the app’s name”

In other words, right-click (or two-finger click). I’m not sure how many would realise that “accessing the contextual menu” is actually right-clicking (even amongh the long-time ordinary Mac users).


Wanted: Consistent audiobook labeling. This falls into the realm of CDDB or Gracenote. It is the same problem that I run into on multiple CD collections. The easiest way I’ve found to get around it is to look at the title of the CD as I’m importing it and change it if needed to keep it consistant.


I want them to support real app data synchronization.
Remember HotSync?

Boy, I would just drop my Palm in the cradle, press the button, and know that everything got all sync’d up.

With the iPhone, the apps all have to play funny little games with doing their own synchronization over the wireless LAN (1Password does this). User intervention is required for each individual app that uses this technique.

I just want to plug my phone in and know that everything is in sync.

And if it would sync over bluetooth I would even be happier!


Tad, isn’t that one of Palm’s patented features?


If that is all you have to complain about then you definitely woke up in a cranky mood because it doesn’t amount to anything. Count your blessings, instead.


“Forget about about the long-lamented copy-and-paste for the iPhone.”

Right, ok, let’s whine about the social scourge of ratings and not-Apple’s-problem Audiobooks naming problem.  But lack of copy/paste.. that one’s no big deal.


Copy/Paste.  Top of the list.  NOW.  (Well, maybe right after killing Safari crashes for real.)

Ted Landau


When I said “forget about the long-lamented copy-and-paste…”, it was only meant to be in comparison to Undo, which I believe is a more critically needed feature.

I tried to make clear from the outset that the items in this column are by no means the biggest complaints or missing features one could list about the iPhone. Such features (such as copy-and-paste) have been cited many times and I didn’t feel a need to iterate the whole list again.

This was meant to be a look at more minor sources of irritability, less often cited but hopefully still of interest. They weren’t intended as big deals.

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Thanks for the great article, do you have any additional resources you can point us to learn more?

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