Apple Needs To Steal These 11 Android Features For The Next iPhone

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We still think the iPhone is the best phone you can buy right now.

But we test a ton of other phones that we like a lot too. And many of them, especially the high-end Android phones, have proven the iPhone is far from a perfect device.

Apple is hard at work on its next version of the iPhone’s software, iOS 6. We probably won’t know all the details until this summer, but in the meantime we came up with a quick wish list of Android features we hope Apple adopts for the iPhone.

Multitasking needs a makeover on iPhone

Multitasking has been on the iPhone since iOS 4 arrived in 2009.

But it's still far from perfect.

In order to manage your apps, you have to double tap your iPhone's home button to bring up a tray of currently running apps. Then you have to swipe right to find the app you want to launch. If you want to close an app, you have to hold down the icon for a second, then tap the red dot.

Sound complicated? It's way more complicated than it needs to be.

Take a look at multitasking on the latest version of Android. All you have to do is tap the multitasking function key and a handy list of running apps pops up in an overlay on your screen. Tap the app you want to reopen, or swipe it to close.

Android's multitasking solution is much more elegant and easy to use than what Apple came up for the iPhone.

Spotlight should search the web and your phone

Spotlight is a handy tool on iPhones that lets you search everything stored on your device: apps, music, contacts, emails, text messages, you name it.

But Android takes that a step further.

Using the built-in search on your Android phone lets you search the web in addition to the stuff stored directly on your phone. There's no need to launch your web browser or any other app.

iPhones do provide a link in Spotlight to search the web, but it'd be better if the results showed up right away like they do on Android.

Apps should update automatically

If you have a lot of out of date apps on your iPhone, it can take an eternity to get them all updated.

Android gives you the option to have your apps update automatically without opening up the Google Play store and entering your password. It saves time, and it's just easier.

Add widgets to the home screen

Widgets are mini apps that live on your home screen and provide live updates with news, weather, sports, email messages, and just about anything else you can imagine. They give you the benefit of getting information at a glance without opening up the app.

Widgets are one of Android's best features. It would be great to see them come to iPhone too.

Update Google maps to the same one used on Android

The native Google Maps app on iPhone hasn't been changed much since about 2008. Meanwhile, the Android version has a ton of new and useful features like 3D maps and turn-by-turn navigation.

Things are pretty dicey between Apple and Google right now, but it'd be nice for the iPhone to get the same slick new Google Maps features that Android does.

Ultimately, this may not be an issue. Apple bought a digital mapping company called C3 Technologies last fall. C3 could help Apple wean itself off its Google Maps dependency starting with iOS 6.

Make notifications easier to manage

Apple did a great job finally bringing a solid notifications system to iOS 5 last year.

Now it's time to take that a step further.

Android still does notifications better than iOS, and that's never been more apparent than in Ice Cream Sandwich. Ice Cream Sandwich's notifications centre lets you close items with a simple swipe. It takes two separate taps to do that in iOS.

Integration with services like Evernote, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc.

Twitter is already a part of iOS from the moment you boot up your iPhone. But what about other popular services like LinkedIn, Dropbox, Evernote, and Facebook?

You still need to launch each individual app if you want to share anything on those services.

With Android, as long as you have the app installed on your phone, you can share stuff on each respective service without opening it up. Want to upload a photo to Dropbox? You can do it straight from Android's photo gallery.

And that's just one example. Just about all your favourite online services integrate directly with Android. Apple should adopt a similar strategy for the iPhone and iPad.

Store contacts as shortcuts on the home screen

Yes, people still make calls on their smartphones.

On iPhone, it's kind of a pain to add new people to your favourites. And it's even more of a pain to quickly access those contacts.

On Android, you can add your favourite contacts directly to your home screen so you can call them with just one tap. It would be great to be able to do that on the iPhone too.

Create a control panel for basic functions like Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and aeroplane mode

What do you do if you need to switch on Bluetooth on your iPhone? You have to open Settings, then the general tab, then the Bluetooth tab, and finally switch it on.


Most Android phones include a handy control panel that lets you toggle basic stuff like Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, 4G, etc. Apple should make it that simple in the iPhone too.

Add a panoramic mode and reduce the shutter lag in the camera app

The hardware behind the iPhone's camera may be impressive, but several Android phones outdo Apple when it comes to camera software.

Shutter lag on the iPhone is still a huge problem. There's a very noticeable delay from when you tap to snap the photo and when the iPhone's camera actually takes it.

Android phones like the Galaxy Nexus and HTC's upcoming One X don't have that problem. They take photos with almost no recognisable shutter lag, like a real point-and-shoot camera.

Add voice dictation to all iPhones

Right now, only the iPhone 4S allows you to write using voice dictation. Meanwhile, just about every single recent Android phone lets you talk to type. And it's just as accurate as Apple's solution.

Even if Apple doesn't bring Siri to the iPhone 4, there's no reason the phone's hardware couldn't handle simple voice dictation.

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