With today’s release of iOS 4.2, i would like to comment on a few basic features that are missing from the iPhone experience.
Voice text entry. Anywhere there is a text entry field, I should have the option to press a microphone icon to enter text via voice. I think this feature could actually save lives, and lots of dollars’ worth of car repairs, for people who just can’t seem to stop texting while driving*, even though it’s illegal in many states now. It seems silly to me that iPhones already have voice recognition for spoken commands (like calling someone, playing a certain song, etc.), but not for general text entry. This would be useful for other things too, like getting directions while you’re already on the road — I actually use Bing’s navigation app sometimes, specifically because I can search and enter addresses via my voice.
Text to speech. Likewise, I would like built-in functionality to have text messages, or other simple things (like emails), read to me. Not necessarily web pages or anything complex like that, though — I know that would be nearly impossible to do well for anything other than very simple web pages.
If this were Android, there could be an app to do both of these things, but apps don’t have access to text messages on the iPhone. Well, actually Android already has voice transcription for most places where you can enter text, from what I’ve seen. Maybe I should install Android on my iPhone. However, come to think of it, the Google Voice app could fairly easily add both of these things (for text messages), if Google wanted.
Better photo management/organization. I would also like the ability to save pictures to something other than the default album, and the ability to move items between albums. I’m not sure why this wasn’t possible from the initial version of the iPhone.
I fully expect all three of these things to be implemented by Apple… eventually. Sooner rather than later would be nice, though. And the speech-to-text feature may indeed be sooner, since there are rumors that Apple recently purchased Nuance, the makers of the voice recognition software Dragon Naturally Speaking (and also the makers of a free voice recognition app for the iPhone).
* Yes, I realize this is still distracted driving, which is also very dangerous, but it’s not quite so dangerous as actually taking your eyes off the road for a few seconds at a time.