One could argue that the entire modern smartphone market has been largely built around aping Apple's revolutionary iPhone, which first appeared in 2007. Indeed, that phone still looks remarkably "current" in some ways: the minimalist rectangular design, the no-keyboard glass touchscreen, and tap and swipe interface are all mainstays of the marketplace now.
Apple, of course, is deadly serious when it comes to protecting its intellectual property -- just ask Samsung. But the iPhone maker has borrowed good ideas from competitors, too -- plenty of things in iOS 7 and the forthcoming iOS 8 first appeared in competing Android and Windows Phone models.
In my book, that's a good thing -- consumers are getting better features across the board, regardless of their OS. To that end, I'm hoping that the iPhone 6 has picked up a few of its rivals' other tricks as well.
We already know we're getting home screen widgets (of a sort) and swappable keyboards, courtesy of iOS 8. Beyond those, rumors of NFC (near-field communication that pairs devices in a tap) and a larger screen make that spec almost a given, not to mention the undeniable industry shift in these directions, supported by consumer demand.
Want, want, want
- Smart lock screen tricks: Talk about intuitive. I love the simple way that the LG G2 and LG G3's lock screen turns on and off with a simple, elegant, and totally natural double-tap.
- Waterproofing: Rugged water-resistant phones have been around for a long time, but Sony's high-end Xperia line (like the Xperia Z2) and Samsung's Galaxy S5 are making the idea of inherent "waterproofing" less of a luxury and more of a given. If these companies can bolster an everyday handset against ordinary splashes and accidental soakings, Apple can too.
- Sapphire screen: Kyocera's Brigadier proves that lab-grown sapphire doesn't have to make a handset expensive, and Huawei is also purportedly working on a sapphire phone. Apple already uses the hard material as a camera lens cover. It would be terrific to see the durable materials also cover a mainstream phone's display, though analysts don't think it'll happen.
- Biometric sensors: It's true that the heart-rate monitor in Samsung's Galaxy S5 is a niche feature that many don't even use, but it's also true that device-makers' interest in fitness and personal data sensors is high. We've also found that of all Samsung's heartbeat readers, the fingertip sensor on the phone is more accurate than the wrist-worn watches.
Even if Apple does offload a similar heart-rate monitor onto an iWatch or other wearable, it isn't a long shot to think that the company could also integrate a similar sensor into Touch ID on the home button.
- Surround speakers: The iPhone's audio quality through the external speakers on the phone's bottom edge isn't bad, but it's pretty average, especially when compared with the HTC One M8's standards-bearing audio. Apple could easily follow HTC's lead here.
- Wireless charging: Nokia (now Microsoft-owned) has experimented the most visibly with wireless charging, down to accessories that use NFC to pair phones to, say an external speaker, while also charging the device. Apple's premium on design and functionality could give the wireless charging industry the juice it needs to bring on the next generation of more powerful and efficient cord-free top-ups.
Icing on the cake
- Physical camera button: Apple's minimalist approach to buttons means we probably won't see a dedicated camera button anywhere on the iPhone 6, but it's at least conceivable that the power/lock button's move to the side of the phone (as it's rumored) could maybe -- maybe? -- let it double as a camera shutter. Regardless, it's still one of my all-time favorite hardware features on any phone.
- Settings shortcuts: This is more the cherry on the icing on the cake, but it would be terrific if Apple could close the loop on this feature seen on Android phones: long-pressing the Wi-Fi and Bluetooth toggles in the Control Center to open each individual setting, not just to turn the functionality on and off. This would be especially useful for selecting a new Wi-Fi network.
Do you have a wish list of your own? Share with us which specific hardware or software features you'd like to see carried over from other phones, in the comments below.