iPhone: Which Missing Features Will We Download Later?

Why doesn’t the iPhone have chat, voice dialing, or MMS?

In a time where chatting is as important as the phone feature itself, why would Apple omit it? Given that Apple has iChat, why not have that installed on the iPhone by default? Why wouldn’t a phone that has no physical dial pad lack voice dialing? Since the iPhone has a camera, why can’t I take a picture and send it via MMS (picture message) when virtually every other camera phone can?

The answer: they ran out of time.

There’s a reason Apple doesn’t talk about their products before shipping, and that is because they can miss their targets and nobody would ever know. From the very beginning, icons have been moving around on that ever-famous iPhone interface. It seems there is now still room for four more icons on the final version coming out tomorrow (June 29, 6pm local time).

So which of these features should we see arrive in the coming months via iTunes sync update? Not chat or MSS. Apple may save those features for version 2 of the iPhone (which would come out late 2008 by my guess). Picture messaging and chat isn’t a big deal. You still have email, which replaces MMS, and chat can be done using text messages or web based chat programs like Meebo.

But I think voice dialing will come out later in a software patch. There are numerous problems with not having voice dialing on a touch screen device, most of all because dialing while driving becomes impossible — or extremely dangerous. At least with a physical keypad, most people can get to the call without looking down, but on an iPhone, it’s impossible to do without looking. This is one of the biggest usability requirements that has not been met on the iPhone, and because it involves the safety of the public at large, I’m pretty sure it will not be a feature they hold until version 2.

As an addendum, I also expect to see games come out perhaps in January. We probably won’t see songs as ringtones soon since that is a “political” issue (as in, carriers will hate the iPhone if it starts chewing up one of their cash cows). And flash support will likely continue to evade the iPhone since it was omitted for power consumption reasons — that is, until Adobe works something out with Apple, which they will.

  • mick

    I was talking about this in the pub earlier; my friend made the valid point that Apple most likely just want to get a solid, working model out now and build on it in future. The important thing is that the hype isn’t *utterly* deflated.