An iPhone Tweak I Would Love – Easy On/Off Radios

On April 2, 2009

One of the things that Apple has taught me is that small design features both in hardware and software make a huge difference in comfort, easy of use, and overall enjoyment of using Apple’s products.

For example, the fact that all of Apple’s notebooks now have an ability to close and to remain shut without the need for a physical latch makes a huge difference in ease of use. I hadn’t thought about it until my wife complained that her last generation Macbook Pro is an absolute pain to open since each time it requires her to push the latch/button in and it is a pain. That’s no longer the case. All MacBooks now close without any physical device locking the two parts together. The lack of a latch is a really nice upgrade. A small thing but something that significantly increases the enjoyment of using their notebooks. No, it isn’t reason enough to upgrade but it is a minor tweak that goes noticed by few but appreciated by all.

Along similar lines, it recently struck me that Apple could easily make one small software tweak that could truly increase the ease of use and run-time of the iPhone. Like the MacBook latch, it isn’t a necessary upgrade or change but it’s one that would have a significant impact for those of us who are heavy users of the device.

Let me explain-

I love my iPhone 3G. I like so much about it but one thing I don’t like, however, is the fact that the battery life is significantly reduced from the first generation iPhone. It’s not a surprise that this is the case. 3G radios suck a lot of energy and, as a result, the battery life on the iPhone 3G is anything but stellar.

Since I like my iPhone I work around it. I use two strategies.

First, I constantly find ways to recharge it. I plug it in in the car. I cradle it at my desk. And I always carry an additional battery. )Fortunately, I have a number of choices including the Mophie Juice Pack, The Mili Suite and the Richard Solo 1800 charger. All of them extend the battery life by at least double.

Second, I shut down radios when I don’t need them. Increasingly, when I’m not in a Wi Fi area I turn off the WiFi. And when I’m not in need of Bluetooth I turn it off, as well. These two small actions add up to seriously extended battery life.

But THAT is where the issue comes in.

In order to turn off the WiFi I need to go to the "Settings" icon on the home screen, tap it and then turn off the WiFi. That’s easy enough. THEN, however, I need to go BACK to the main part of the "Settings" screen, select "General", then select "Bluetooth" and then turn it off. Then back out to the main screen. That’s a lot of steps to take EACH AND EVERY TIME and it is annoying!

It is also a nuisance that is easily solved by the ability to create an icon that takes you directly to a number of user-specified settings. That would allow you to tap once, and turn on or off any of the radios you choose. Simple, quick and convenient. A small thing? Yup. But those small things are part of what makes Apple Apple.