It's just amazing how integrated cellular phones (aka: mobile devices) have become over the last decade. It's now the "must-have" accessory for, well, literally everyone.
As such, the mobile device is a love-hate, bell-bowl-type, relationship for most of it's owners. You either love your device, squeal with joy every single time you get to lovingly turn on the radiant screen, or you grind your molars into a fine grit, counting the days until you can escape your contract and get rid of the piece of sh*t. There really is no middle ground for the serious user.
I'm, once again, shopping for a new device. As of now, I am eagerly awaiting the release of the new Turing phone. After asking myself why such a device would so violently catapult me into the "decadent fanboi love" category, I started mentally compiling a list of absolute must-haves for a device in order for me to even seriously consider it for purchase.
Some of these items fall into the category of "Snicker... good luck!" levels of wishful thinking. Most are options available today. Regardless, here's my take on what would make a most-awesome mobile device.
- Android or Linux OS
Not a fan of the Apple iOS. Even though my current phone is an iPhone4S, I am eagerly awaiting the day that I can dump this phone for a device who's operating system is less monolithic and controlling.
My biggest complaint about iOS is that it doesn't integrate outside of Apple-land. Try to sync, and keep sync'd, your calendar and contacts with Google and you'll see what I mean. I can't count the number of times I've updated something in either Address Book (on my iMac), or in Google Calendars, and I never, ever, see the update propagate to the iPhone.
If Apple wants to win with iOS, get the integration down with other services. Accept the fact that not every OSX or iOS user lives in iCloud but, rather, instead in Google-land, and you'll piss-off substantially fewer users.
The other reason why I prefer Android over iOS is that I can do more to customize my Android screens than I can with iOS. At least without having to jailbreak iOS - which leads to an entirely new set of long-term issues. With iOS, you're pretty much stuck with the McDonalds-like screen, icons, and experience. You can pretty much borrow anyone else's iPhone and whiz through the screens without pause. Boring. Should be called the mcPhone.
- Uninstallable Crapware
Every single phone make and OS vendor installs their own bloatware on the devices. What's frustrating to users is the inability to remove the bloatware from the device. There the application sits, like a teenager stuck to your couch, forever consuming space and CPU resources.
And yet, you've never opened or launched the app except for the first day you got the phone. You tried out the app, perhaps, decided it was crap, and then tried to remove it from the device. Once you found out you couldn't, you did you best to isolate it, (Don't we all have that app folder called "crapware"?), but you can't delete it.
And you're pretty much OK with that until you arrive at the day where you can no longer take another photo, or download another video or song, or install a new application, because the device is full. And there's that bloatware app - never launched - sitting there. Eating up gigabytes of storage that could be replaced with something useful.
Want bucket-loads of user-loyalty? Allow us users to remove crap we don't ever use off our phones.
- End-to-End Encryption
There needs to be a new RFC written for all mobile protocols that implements encryption, by default, in the device. When starting a hangout, or chat session, or sending an email, the devices negotiate the encryption and all communication is sent encrypted over the wire directly to the other device. No man-in-the-middle service.
This type of hand-shaking can literally be applied to every single protocol used by your phone and yet, we still don't have. (All though, thank you Turing phone, it's coming!)
- No More Text Message Limits
Most carriers would shudder at the though of voluntarily dropping text-messaging pricing from their plans. After all, texting is the cash cow for all phone carriers and yet they literally cost your carrier nothing.
Most of the more technically-astute users quickly learn that there's a ton of applications out there that allow you to bypass texting limits by sending messages over the internet. (Which, too, in my perfect world, would be e2e encrypted!) But most apps require that the recipient have the same program installed on their side before you're able to communicate with them.
Think how much money a carrier could make, how much customer loyalty they could generate, by being the first to offer unlimited texting for free!
- No More Roaming
Our entry in the wishful-thinking/never-happen category is to eliminate roaming.
For example, on my iPhone using AT&T as my carrier, when I leave the US and cross into MX, I automatically join TelMex or iUSACell or whatever subsidiary it is that AT&T owns. They now charge me $19/Kb (that's not mis-type: kilobyte) of data, $4.99 per text message, and something like $0.89 per minute on cellular.
And this is basically the same company collecting your money. You crossed an invisible line on a map and your phone rates jumped by a factor requiring a deal-with-the-devil to avoid.
I keep hoping Sir Richard Branson will use Virgin Mobile to announce a new "World Phone" where there is no roaming charges - you pay the same rate wherever you go.
- Stop the Hating
Looking at you, Bezos.
I refuse to buy an Amazon-anything. (Fire, Kindle, whatever) because Amazon refuses to play nice with other providers. Like, say, Google.
Apple refuses to allow you to de-install their software because they're herding you cows towards a single, cloud-based, "experience". You can't de-install Messages and replace it with Hangouts. At least you can install Hangouts on an iPhone. On an Amazon device, you can't even download Hangouts. And who-the-fuck even uses Compass? (Go ahead, try to remove it...)
How did we allow company's get away with this buggery? "The Customer is Always Right as Long as They're Tethered to Our EcoSystem" business philosophy?
- Longer Suport
I bought an iPad 1st-generation. I love(d) my iPad. I quit smoking and saved the money I would have spent on cigarettes and used that to but my iPad. For which, at the time, I enjoyed it for about three more years before Apple dropped all support for the device.
Which cost me as much as a decent PC - about $800. I got three years of supported-use.
Now, I can't even download the latest version of YouTube and install it because the first-gen iPad isn't supported.
Will this make me run out and buy another iPad and drop another $600-$800?
How do you think I got introduced to the Android OS?
If you don't offer you users longer support, in a move which I can only assume is designed as type of planned obsolescence, then most users will probably move-on to another platform. Or not. Lot of cows out there with their retina iPads.
Either way, Apple: thanks for introducing me to Android!
- Smart Software Updates
This is a biggie. If you release a new version of the core OS, please wake-up someone in QA and ask them to test it on ALL supported devices.
Android Lollipop basically bricked Google's Nexus 7 devices. Something in the OS, interacting with the Nexus 7 hardware, brings the device whimpering down to it's knees. I can't believe no one QA didn't notice or test this.
I'm avoiding the latest iOS release because I don't want Apple's stupid watch application perma-installed on my iPhone. (See item #2) It's bad enough I have their health app installed and can't remove it.
- Speech to Text
This is niche, I know. But the technology exists - every phone OS has it. Siri, Cortana, whatever Google calls it's voice-assist... the ability to recognize speech.
Apple got huge praise from the Deaf/HoH community for promoting FaceTime app for ASL use.
Why can't you expand the use of the existing technology and give us speech-to-text capability?
I would love to be able to take phone calls on my phone if I could see what the other person was saying. I would love to be able to go into "transcribe" mode and capture what was said at a meeting.
Bonus points for integrating language translations.
Come on, Google - you CAN do this!
- Replaceable Screens
Allow us users the ability to easily, and cheaply, replace our screens. Especially for the lower-end phone that use plastic.
Your investment in R&D in making that vibrant, brilliant, 200-zillion colored pixel screen goes straight down the crapper once that screen becomes scratched or, worse, shattered or cracked.
Is there any parent out there who doesn't use their phone as a baby-sitting device? Kids are tough on devices. Who hasn't cracked a screen by dropping the phone, or having it bend in their pocket?
Making it easier to change screens on the phone would prolong the life of the phone and probably up the renewal rates for contracts. After all, we do get emotionally invested in our phones.
I have high hopes that, as the device industry matures, customers will become smarted with regards to the technology and feature-sets. They'll be less accepting of decisions made that can't be undone, or done without consideration. And, hopefully, customers will do as they always do - vote with their wallets and leave the vendors wondering "Why the sales decline?" forcing product innovation.
I have no issues being tethered to a single device for years if that device is usable, extensible, and flexible. Until that day, I'll keep on searching for my perfect device.