Join the ‘iWant a Better iPhone’ Challenge & Win Free iPhone Gear for the Holidays!

Update: The contest is over. Thanks to those who participated. Feel free to add to the discussion below, though prizes have already been awarded.

iPhone holidays

For all its majesty, the iPhone has its flaws. That’s why this Christmas, I want a better iPhone!

The iPhone is a remarkable device, but a strict App Store, privacy concerns, and a “closed” operating system prevent iPhone from reaching its full potential. That’s my opinion, now I want to hear yours.

The “iWant a Better iPhone” Challenge

Tell me what one iPhone improvement would make you most happy this holiday for a chance to win 1 of 6 first-rate iPhone accessories.

The companies below have been kind enough to donate their iPhone accessories as prizes for the ‘iWant a Better iPhone’ challenge. If you’re slacking on holiday shopping, this gear makes a great gift for an iPhone owner in your life.

  1. miCradle & UltiMount iPhone Car Mount Solution

    miCradle iPhone car mount
    Who makes it: Pro-Fit International
    My review: iPhone Car Mount Review: Pro-Fit miCradle UltiMount V2, Jan 30, 2008

  2. iON Mobile Power Bank Backup Battery for iPhone

    iON Mobile Backup Battery for iPhone
    Who makes it: FSP Group
    My review: iON Mobile Power Bank: Backup Battery for iPhone [Video Review], Jul 13, 2009

  3. GoRide iPhone Bike Mount

    Bicio iPhone bike mount
    Who makes it: Bicio
    I have not yet reviewed this product.

  4. Defender Series iPhone Case

    Defender iPhone case
    Who makes it: Otterbox
    My review: Otterbox Defender iPhone Case Review, Oct 12, 2009

  5. Pogo Stylus for iPhone

    Pogo Stylus for iPhone
    Who makes it: Ten One Design
    My review: Pogo Stylus for iPhone [Video Review], Feb 15, 2008

  6. Xtand for iPhone

    Xtand for iPhone
    Who makes it: Just Mobile
    My review: iPhone Xtand [Review], Feb 1, 2009

Six of you will get these accessories for free!

How to win

To enter, leave a thoughtful comment (one sentence to one paragraph) on this blog post telling me:

  • The one iPhone improvement that would make you most happy this holiday.
  • Your top 3 preferred prizes, numbered from 1 (most preferred) to 3.

I will randomly select the winner of each accessory and notify you by email.

Don’t wait!

Update: The contest is now over, but feel free to comment anyway and tell me how you think the iPhone could be improved.

Disclaimer: Comments that do not answer the question, or those that include profanity or personal insults, will not be considered. I reserve the right to give your prize to someone else if I don’t hear back from you within 3 days after emailing you, or for any other reason.

Why do YOU want a better iPhone? Let me know!

iPhone Auto-Correct FAIL: “WhiteHouse” to “Wh*rehouse”

I was watching the White House Youth Clean Energy Economy Forum on yesterday, and as I was sending a text message to my sister about the event, I was set back by my iPhone’s recommended correction:

iPhone white house to whorehouse

I laughed and clicked X, of course.

But it got past my friend, an employee of Campus Progress who was actually at the event when he shared this with his thousands of followers on Twitter AND Facebook:

iPhone autocorrection for whitehouse: whorehouse

Embarrassing, I’m sure, but hilarious.

7 Reasons NOT to Buy an iPhone This Holiday

iPhone for Christmas

You don’t need me to convince you the iPhone is a good holiday gift. You’ve heard from Apple about the iPhone’s many supernatural capabilities. Some of them are TRUE — I know first-hand, I’m an iPhone owner. But be not fooled, the iPhone is not all fun & games.

Consider these 7 reasons NOT to buy an iPhone this holiday season:

  1. At&TAT&T. Enough said. This is without a doubt the least-liked iPhone feature among iPhone owners. Bad connectivity, bad customer service, bad privacy policies define this communications giant in the minds of many iPhone owners. If you live in the US, AT&T is the #1 reason not to buy an iPhone.
  2. iPhone keyboardNo hardware keyboard. This was the largest point of debate leading up to the iPhone’s release. The Wall Street Journal said the iPhone keyboard is a non-issue, but in my experience it can be an issue in some cases. Whereas you can type on hardware keyboards without looking at the keys, the iPhone’s flat touchscreen offers no tactile response, which requires you to look at the screen more often. The lacking keyboard can be dangerous while walking, or worse, driving.
  3. iPhone App StoreStrict App Store regulations. Apple has ridiculous App Store approval policies that are bad for developers, and bad for you. While developers may waste hours creating apps that are rejected for inane reasons, users will suffer by being denied innovative capabilities on their devices. For example, the Facebook app has been so scrutinized by Apple that it caused the Facebook app developer to quit, thus delaying improvement of the Facebook app, which needs many improvements.
  4. AppleApple = Proprietary. I use Linux on a PC and it annoys me to no end that Apple will not release an iTunes for Linux. It’s not because they can’t or because there’s no demand. It’s because they want you to buy a Mac and stay locked into the Apple circle. Think about it. Why does no other MP3 player work on iTunes? Yes, I understand, Apple can do whatever it wants with its products, but you don’t have to support them with your money.
  5. Privacy concerns. In August I named 6 iPhone privacy issues, among them the fact that you can’t password-protect individual apps, and the fact that AT&T has a history of violating user privacy.
  6. Google Android ArmyGoogle Android. Google is unleashing an army of Android phones that will offer a diversity of features, some more compelling than iPhone’s. What’s more, Google is not proprietary like Apple. In fact, Android is open source, so anyone can create apps and there is no ridiculous approval process like Apple’s.
  7. SleepPeace of mind. Never has my mind been more crowded than in the time I’ve been an iPhone owner. Yes, the iPhone is a great productivity tool, but it can also be an on-demand distraction.

Buyer beware.

What Do You Think?

Is the iPhone all its cut out to be? Would you recommend it as a holiday gift? Let us know what you think.

4 Ways for Apple to Fix the App Store Approval Process

Mashable reports that Apple is fixing the App Store approval process by adding “the ability to track the status of apps submitted to Apple’s store.”

It’s good to know Apple is giving developers some insight into the App Store approval process by providing status updates, but Apple needs to do more to embrace developers, who have been a crucial part of the iPhone’s success.

Here are 4 changes we need to see in the App Store approval process:

  1. Shorten the approval time for trusted developers. I remember waiting weeks between when Facebook submitted their Facebook 3.0 app to the App Store and its actual arrival to the App Store. Must Apple continue to make trusted companies wait weeks before their apps are approved (or rejected) in the App Store? If anything, Apple could appoint more employees to the approval committee to make it a more pleasant process for the people who keep the App Store afloat, developers. Update: Facebook’s iPhone app developer has quit, citing his discomfort over the App Store approval process.
  2. Stop rejecting apps that criticize public figures. Apple recently rejected Bobble Tap because it contained caricatures of politicians that were not even objectionable. The developer said the app was in good taste, just an informational database. Judging by the screenshots of the app, I agree. Apple, lighten up and let people express themselves however they want. If apps are threatening or illegal, we have the government to deal with that. We don’t need you to police the App Store. Update: Apple has reversed its decision about the Bobble Tap app.

    Bobble Tap iPhone app

  3. Don’t diss Google. Apple rejected the Google Voice app, claiming that the app “duplicates features that come with the iPhone.” But plenty of apps duplicate native iPhone features. Look at how many apps in the App Store record voice, display weather and even send text messages. Apple, if you continue to ignore Google they are going to ignore you, and you don’t want that, especially considering the Android army that is about to be unleashed. Play nice, boys.
  4. Allow adult content. It’s called “Parental Controls,” Apple. It changed television by allowing parents to block objectionable content from children. It could change the iPhone, too. Just add an “18+” Restriction to the Settings and we’re all set. Apple, stop trying to play Mom and Pop and let adults be adults.

These solutions are good for Apple, these solutions are good for developers. As far as I’m concerned, if it places Apple in a good light with iPhone developers, it’s a smart business decision. You don’t want all your App Store developers flocking to Android, do you Apple?

6 iPhone Privacy Issues You Should Be Concerned About

Have you noticed the iPhone gradually embedding itself into every facet of your life? I use my iPhone to:

  • plan out my days
  • track my personal budget
  • exchange emails, phone calls, text messages, photos, videos, voice recordings, etc., with anyone
  • broadcast my location via Google Latitude and other location sharing services

Yet considering how much we use the iPhone to map out our personal lives, the unfortunate truth is that Apple’s iPhone is weak on privacy.

Some Improvements

Yes, Apple has addressed a couple of our privacy concerns with the iPhone.

  1. You now have the option to turn off SMS preview, a feature that displays an excerpt of incoming text messages, causing potentially humiliating situations.
  2. Also, you can now delete individual text messages on iPhone, whereas originally your only choice was to delete all messages from any given contact.

Top 6 iPhone Privacy Issues

While the above are certainly improvements, there is still a lot left to be desired in terms of privacy on the iPhone. Below are 6 iPhone privacy issues that you may not be aware of, but should be. Give them a look and decide whether it is still worth it for you to own or buy an iPhone.


  1. iPhone Passcode Lock

    iPhone’s Passcode Lock can be hacked. In September of 2008, Jonathan Zdziarski broadcast a webcast showing the world how to hack into an iPhone that is guarded by a Passcode Lock (which you can toggle in Settings >> General >> Passcode Lock).

    The webcast on how to break a Passcode Lock was intended in part for law enforcement officers, but it can also teach thieves how to mine the data from iPhones they have stolen. If you have information in your iPhone that you consider absolutely private, you should know that intruders can easily crack your iPhone’s Passcode Lock.

    Besides the Passcode Lock preventing people from entering your iPhone, individual apps from the App Store sometimes have Passcode Locks, like the Balance app, which I use to track my budget.

  2. iPhone screenshot

    iPhone stores screenshots of your activities. To produce that shrinking effect that happens to your window whenever you press the home button, your iPhone takes a picture of your screen. It stores a copy of the most recent screenshot and then supposedly deletes it. But according to Wired, “anyone who understands data is aware that in most cases, deletion does not permanently remove files from a storage device. Therefore, forensics experts have used this security flaw to gather evidence against criminals convicted of rape, murder or drug deals, Zdziarski said.”

    The knowledge on how to dig up the screenshots from someone’s iPhone can certainly be used by law enforcement in the interests of society, but intruders with malicious intent can see your activity just as easily.

  3. AT&T does not protect your privacy. The sole authorized iPhone carrier in the United States assisted the National Security Agency in its illegal wiretapping scheme and was granted immunity from prosecution after the scandal was exposed.

    Yes, many mobile phones other than iPhone run on AT&T, but with iPhone you are transmitting much more personal data than you would on a more basic phone. If you’re an iPhone user in the US, it’s worth considering that AT&T cooperated with the NSA’s widespread wiretapping… some AT&T customers have left because of it.

    iPhone wiretapping

  4. iPhone embeds your location into photos. By default, photos you take on an iPhone 3G or 3G S are “geotagged” with the location where they were taken. Your latitude and longitude are recorded in your photos’ EXIF data based on a signal from iPhone’s GPS or possibly from cellular and WiFi triangulation.

    iPhone geotag in EXIF data

    My iPhone 3G used to ask me if it could use my “Current Location” when I would turn on the camera. Now my 3G S geotags my photos by default. To change how the iPhone uses your location, go to Settings >> General and toggle Location Services.

  5. iPhone does not let you lock down individual apps. Although the iPhone’s Passcode Lock can be hacked, as mentioned above, it would still be nice to be able to set a Passcode for just certain apps, like Messages, Email, and Notes, for example.
  6. iPhone text message preview

    iPhone has no option to hide the names of people who send you text messages. This concern was noted in the comments of my post How Has iPhone’s SMS Preview Gotten You Into Trouble?. There’s a big debate in that thread about whether people who care about text message privacy are just a bunch of adulterers, but I tend to believe people’s privacy motivations are their own business and if you want the option to hide names of text message senders, you should have it.

Worried About Your Privacy on iPhone?

There’s no question Apple needs to increase security on the iPhone. Some of these privacy issues require taking a hard look at the iPhone’s core software, but others are options that could simply be added to iPhone’s Restrictions in Settings >> General >> Restrictions.

What do you think? What are your privacy concerns about the iPhone? Please sound off in the comments and tell Apple why you want the iPhone to be more secure.

iPhone 3.0: Now With Text Message Privacy

iPhone 3.0 SMS privacy

One of the problems I used to complain about most was iPhone’s “SMS Preview” feature, which prompted you with an excerpt of any incoming text message you received. You can imagine — or maybe you’ve actually experienced — the awkwardness when a raunchy text message from your significant other pops up on your screen while a relative or coworker is using your iPhone.

SMS Preview and the lack of text message privacy on the iPhone caused embarrassment for a lot of my readers, who left comments about inappropriate text messages popping up on their screens at the worst times — pretty funny, you should go read them.

After TWO YEARS of complaining about this extremely irritating issue, Apple has finally heard our pleas and given us the option in iPhone 3.0 to turn off SMS Preview for incoming text messages.

Just go to Settings >> Messages to turn SMS Preview on or off. That’s it, no more unnecessary text message drama.

Update: Mark writes,

I do not agree that this solves the problem. I actually think Apple needed one more SMS privacy preferences option to completely suppress pop ups for text messages, don’t you? Complete suppression of text messages would be I don’t get any popups about any text messages if desired.

I agree. I noted this as a concern in my post 6 iPhone Privacy Issues You Should Be Concerned About.