Coming Soon: iPhone Software Updates

Posted by: Olga Kharif on July 10, 2007

This blog is a collaboration between writer Aaron Ricadela and I:

Ever since the iPhone’s debut, users have been compiling wish lists of how Apple’s first cell phone should be improved. Well, some of these wishes might come true soon, BusinessWeek.com has learned.

Apple and its partner and exclusive U.S. iPhone service provider, AT&T, are preparing to unleash a slew of software updates. Among them is an iChat Instant Messaging application, says Richard Doherty, director for consultancy The Envisioneering Group. The iChat function should be announced this summer, says Doherty, citing conversations with Apple executives.

Representatives of the company decline to discuss planned iPhone applications, but copies of an iPhone-related training manual produced by AT&T and a survey AT&T sent to its iPhone users have made their way onto the Web recently. Both mention iChat, currently not supported on the iPhone.

Besides instant messaging, iChat for the iPhone will also support audio chat among as many as five people, Doherty says. Unlike iChat for Macintosh computers, the software won’t support video conferencing, as the current version of iPhone lacks a video camera. It’s possible iPhone’s chat function will also let users dictate messages. “We are working closely with Apple to provide a more robust experience in the future,” says AT&T spokesman Mark Siegel. He declined to address the prospect that iChat will be added to the iPhone.

Indeed, iChat is likely only one of several applications and software upgrades likely to be added to the iPhone in the coming weeks. That doesn’t include more than 150 applications that independent developers have announced for the iPhone, which went on sale in the U.S. on June 29. These third-party applications, available through various Web sites, allow for such features as news, weather, games and even cookbook recipes. An early July iPhoneDevCamp had resulted in 58 more applications, including software turning the phone into a dictation device and an iPhone counter, keeping track of the total number of iPhones in the world.

Apple may also be considering introducing support for Adobe’s (ADBE) Flash software, which lets users view crisp online video and graphics on the Web, says a software developer familiar with the matter. Adobe’s Flash Player would make iPhone users’ Web browsing experience more seamless by supporting Flash-based Web sites and applications. The Flash Player, used for viewing rich content such as video, is more widely used than any other, including Java and RealOne Player. Adobe declined to comment.

But Bill Perry, who manages global developer relations for mobile and devices IS at Adobe, has recently posted a long article on his blog, flashdevices.net, urging developers to ask Apple for Flash support. “We suggest that developers speak to Apple directly about what technologies the iPhone will support and integrate,” he wrote. “It's important to note that our relationship with Apple continues to be strong. Naturally we believe that support for Flash is essential for any mobile device that wants to deliver a great experience for customers.”

More applications from Google and Yahoo could be forthcoming as well. The phone already wirelessly streams YouTube videos, supports Google Maps, and features built-in Google and Yahoo search. More applications from Google in particular could be coming soon, Doherty reckons. Google, whose CEO Eric Schmidt sits on Apple’s board, may collaborate with Apple on a mobile voice search application, providing for search via voice commands and/or text messages. Google is currently testing what could be a prototype, Google Voice Local Search, which can be reached at 1-800-Goog-411.

Analysts also expect Apple to make a series of minor changes to existing applications to make the iPhone easier to use. One tweak that may come out soon would be availability of landscape mode for more iPhone applications, believes Shaw Wu, an analyst with American Technology Research. Today, the phone’s users can watch movies and surf the Web in a landscape mode, but they can only type e-mails in portrait. Meanwhile, typing in a landscape mode would be easier. “It’s something that a lot of users would welcome,” he says.

The users may also welcome a cheaper version of the iPhone, an iPhone Nano that a recent J.P. Morgan report claims is in the works for release later this year. The phone, likely to be operated with a scroll wheel, is expected to retail for less than $300, according to the report, and to sell as many as 40 million units next year.

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Reader Comments

PXLated

July 11, 2007 01:29 AM

You're a little late with the Nano, J.P. Morgan is distancing themselves from their own analyst's statements.

Stef

July 28, 2007 09:24 PM

This story seemed to be all about iChat coming to the phone.
Who cares? The texting portion is pretty damn good as is. I want to see Office added, I want to be able to open a jpg from an email, I want to open flash based webpages, I want the speaker to be a hell of a lot louder than it is. It's horribly low when using speaker phone. And ringtones? Don't even get me started!
Man those are just as bad if not down right cruel! Why can't we
use our music on iTunes for ringtones? Because somewhere
someone or some big company will lose tons of money right?
Ain't that always the case? Ugh! Give me a break. I just paid
700 dollars for the phone! I should be able to do whatever I
want with it! Not the case but it's still a damn nice phone.

SkullnBones

August 2, 2007 03:27 PM

agree with PXLated, The article sucks, seems like the author got some info that was 2 lines and turned it into a long article saying the samething different ways.:P

My Iphone story is that I put my backyard deck work off for a while to get my wife a iPhone surprise.. guess what.. to this day i keep hearing complaints everyday. basically legit complains for most of the reasons that PXLated mentioned, for example she misses the picture messaging.. and the lousey speakerphone.. To this day I have not been able to a justify why i put off the deck and spent 500 on a phone.. lol. I hope apple saves my ass soon.

ropedartman

August 3, 2007 03:55 PM

I love my iphone and do not question what it doesn't do. People will always want more... I have used Treos, Blackberries and TMo's MDA, they all sucked to use. Personally I found the speaker to be great, I play music while walking around and can hear it just fine. Loss of picture messaging is unfortunate, but I am sure Apple will fix that shortly, I have faith in the company to address basic issues. But for now, iphone is an amazing product!

john D

August 5, 2007 12:49 AM

you want ring tones you just have to do your home work. I put my own ringtones already.

August 5, 2007 02:27 AM

I just wanna be able to send a text to multiple ppl at the same time. And the speakers DO suck! Still love myPhone though

hex

August 6, 2007 01:55 AM

I live by my appointment book, and to see iCal with no multiple colors support simply sux. Even the Palm Zire 72 has it. With all the other colors being displayed, i.e. Notepad, Safari and Duh, iPod, you'd think the software development team wouldn't have missed this helpful neccessity.

steve garrison

August 8, 2007 05:23 PM

I do love my iphone but its definitely a love hate relationship. There's a lot to love and plenty to hate. The speaker phone sucks, there is NO picture text which is hard to believe, no video cam, no ring tones, and it doesn't have flash player which is on a lot of internet sights. Other tan those faults...I love it...Oh one more negative...no insurance is available. Anyone with any knowledge on how to eliminate any of these problems can e mail me at stevegpix@yahoo.com

k mill$

August 16, 2007 08:49 PM

i agree with every one. I miss sending text to multiple people and i cant even foward a text if i wanted to. No picture messages and no video. That sucks... If you know how to add your own ring tones please let me know kanyne21@yahoo.com. Other than that this phone is the best. Can't wait for the updates...

jamesr

August 20, 2007 03:31 PM

just let me save webpages in safari for offline viewing! Give it an interface like the photos app, make it sync with iTunes, and let's get on with the most exciting aspect of a any where computer that fits in your pocket-- always having the information you need (music, video, phone numbers, notes, pictures) when you want it.

I have four GIGS of storage on this device, an amount unthinkable just a short while ago. The amount of space needed to store a webpage is vastly less then a song, or sometimes, even a picture.

Please, please, apple, let us unlock a new age where i just dont have "a thousand songs in my pocket" but an entire library, a slice of the world -- in a word, knowledge -- on my device, available to me, whether or not i'm on the cellular network (and lets be honest, the network is not gonna cut it all the ti
e!)

Lets say it a different way, currently, if i load a webpage on how to do a plumbing task and go to my basement to apply it, i have no signal and Cant Use It Because Its Not Cached, and not Saved. On a 2007 best of breed device with four gigs of space

Please? If you, the reader, believe in what im saying, feel free to copy and repost this anywhere you like.

pizzel

August 20, 2007 04:08 PM

i know how to add ringtones its real simple and great if need wmail me i'll give url.

B.Cherry

August 20, 2007 10:57 PM

iJust wanna know why you can't highlight, copy, and paste text? iHope Apple iS workin' on iT. i'M not goin' to repeat the other stuff said before me, but all those other features already said should be added too. Hackers will find out sooner or later (thanks for everything), so Apple just need to give use the power and software to mod our iNterface and add custom ringtones iN which iAlready have. iPaid $1,200 messin' around with a $500 dollar security deposit enough said. Apple, do your job and quit bullshittin' us!!!

-sent from my iPhone

rob

August 21, 2007 10:08 PM

I'm desperate to jailbreak my iPhone but I have v.1.01 can anyone help me?

mdaly

August 23, 2007 09:02 AM

How about a search function in the contacts? I have 1800 contacts and sometimes I can't remember the last name so I'm hosed. Why can't we search by company? In my SmartPhone I can type in anything and it searched the entire DB for that text string. For instance, I can't remember the name or the company where I got my firewood last year but I do remember that I wrote "firewood" in the notes section. It's an easy one to find in my SmartPhone and in the Apple address book ap but it's lost on my iPhone.

Ampulex

September 14, 2007 10:01 AM

"This blog is a collaboration between writer Aaron Ricadela and I." You and your editors must have missed class the days the teach covered that pronouns and object of preposition junk, otherwise you would have used "me."

From there, your writing goes down hill. Must be nice to get paid for being a know-nothing, illiterate journalist. I assume that's what you claim to be.

Brad Miller

September 18, 2007 03:51 PM

I have Palm, WM5, and BB devices. I am sadly disappointed with the iphone. For the amount of money they charge you they don't give you very much. Yes, you can view YouTube with Wifi and download movies. But...

-- Cannot attach pdf or word docs to email
-- No MMS
-- No A2DP Bluetooth
-- No cut and Paste
-- No sending SMS to multiple users
-- No 'delete all' function for email
-- No landscape keyboard for sending email or text

The iphone was suppose to revolutionize cell phones? Am I missing something here? Where is all the bells and whistles to help business people get things done faster. I hope Apple hears the cries coming from those who bought this, because right now it isn't an Iphone... it's just an Ipod with a phone.


DDooBrown

September 21, 2007 05:22 PM

From a corporate email perspective: please support .eml attachments (basic!). Should be able to recognize a phone number in an email or text message so you can just click on it (add to contact, copy, or dial). Of course Copy and Paste functions are needed.

Finally why is it that when I add a contact and take their picture the picture doesn't get saved to my photos...just the contact (lazy code)?

Great breakthrough in technology. Makes me want to buy Apple stock

king pop'p

September 27, 2007 09:47 PM

ilove the iPhone but no revolutionary product the way they advertised it to be.I just wish we can "Copy and Paste" man!Flash player is needed,and portrait text is definitly a Must!And don't forget the istant messeger applications!!!!!!!!!

neil

October 18, 2007 10:02 AM

No has yet mentioned the contact phone book. Why cant I search for "fred" and bring up all the freds in my phone book or "fred meyer" or fredrick. The phone book blows people and it seems like such an easy thing to add.

george

October 29, 2007 06:14 AM

We can all find some fault in the I phone....but isnt it a great little item??? and the support is great....bring on the updates...i am sure its going to give us some goodies...

Juan Pena

November 16, 2007 03:16 AM

I just received my Iphone which I traded for my TREO 700W. A)the calculator is to simple and doesn't even calculate percentages or square roots.B)Cannot beam business card or information through Bluetooth C)Adding a new contact after receiving a call should be asked by the phone if not it is very hard to locate to be added D)The battery use is too short!E)The speaker is terrible!F)You cannot create an Excel or Word new file G)It should have voice command recognition to dial automaticly H)Ringtones shouldn't have to be paid and should be beamed like the ones in all competitors phones I)The contact should be registered by types like suppliers, family,personal, business, utilities and more.I must say it is a nice looking phone, but I believe that the lack in technology comparison against other phones should worry anyone who wants to buy this phone, it seems Apple made a mistake launching this phone without analyzing its competitors. I myself will only use it for six more months until I see an upgrade of these problems because if not I will have to go back to my Treo Palm 700 whcih eventhough it doesnot comes with wi-fi I would then buy the wi-fi card to connect to the internet.I am on my trial period and hope to see many things fixed in the software of iphone upgrades.

unknown

November 16, 2007 07:59 PM

i was thinking to get an iphone tomorrow bas thank god i did some researches online , from wat i read , i wont get an iphone anytime soon unless a new software is announced improving all the issue ppl talk about , just cant undestand why the hell we cant put any song as a ringtone it make non sense , and what about the 18 months battery issue ? is t true it need to be replace ?

till now i found iphone sucks i prefere nokia or SE

karthika

November 28, 2007 01:18 PM

can we keep a song as a ringtone in iphone?

mo

November 29, 2007 07:54 PM

guys/girls, this is pretty sad, the iphone is not function, it's about a cool device. by revolutionizing they meant things like touch screen which everyone is now trying to copy (aka verizon voyager). apple prides itself in simplicity and stability instead of lots of buttons, flashy lights, and functions that are completely unnecessary. does your phone ring? yes, then quit your whining about how you can't get your latest kelli clarkson song on the phone, how pathetic are we when there are people on this planet that don't have food to eat and we're sitting here complaining about how a phone won't play a song for a ringtone, it's pretty, it's sexy, and it's marketed at being cool (not corporate), when you think corporate you think of the dorky coke bottle glasses dude in the cube next to you, not a hip youngster in a bmw convertible that started a company like yahoo or google or apple, do you?
if you like your wm5 device so much, go back to it, it's a free country :)
mo

Rooster

December 9, 2007 02:09 AM

Word Mo!!! Well said. Sexy has out weighed nerdy since the dawn of time. Take it for what it is and be happy.

Jeff

July 26, 2008 08:34 PM

@Juan - turn the phone sideways to get a scientific calculator

mike jr.

October 11, 2008 03:09 AM

what apple need to do to make the iphone more enjoyable for customers is 1 video camrecorder 2 send text messages that people sent you 3 watch any video over the Internet 4 able to single edited dial & missed called deleted 5 make audio louder for speaker phone 6 delete all bulk mail messages at once 7 text wide in text messaging 8 make internet faster 9 make navagation system talkable or at lease moveable 10 a shut off time switch setter to enable to turn off iPhone. If y'all need help I'm a computer software programmer you could hire me or work with me on this. I have 8 year & going. Email me at m17707@yahoo.com make I can help you more than you think. Mike Jr.

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BusinessWeek writers Peter Burrows, Cliff Edwards, Olga Kharif, Aaron Ricadela, Douglas MacMillan, and Spencer Ante dig behind the headlines to analyze what’s really happening throughout the world of technology. One of the first mainstream media tech blogs, Tech Beat covers everything from tech bellwethers like Apple, Google, and Intel and emerging new leaders such as Facebook to new technologies, trends, and controversies.

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