The smartphone market makes the Space Race and Cold War look like cavemen having a pointless rock-throwing competition, especially since both sides have now forgotten why rock-throwing was so important and are busily building McDonald’s instead. But while America has forgotten that sending man into space is meant to be more exciting than tweeted senator-genitals, smartphone makers are locked in a brutal conflict where the latest feature means hundreds of millions of pounds. Unfortunately, most of those latest features are also less impressive than said genitals, which is why we’re offering some for them.
1. Screen-centered Cameras
Video chat is the greatest victory of technology over human instinct since microwave “meals.” Being able to see someone communicates far more than mere text or audio, with their body language speaking volumes, but unfortunately all this extra data is communicating “distrust and alienation” because like newspaper moguls under parliamentary review, camera phones are incapable of genuine eye-contact.
You’re always looking above, below, or off to the side of the camera (depending on your phone or webcam setup), so you look shiftier than a teenager with noserings and a proximity to your recently stolen wallet. While poor reception or fuzzy video are obvious problems and would make you disconnect, a subtle sense of unease and distrust won’t, which says a lot about how we value shiny toys over other people. The first phone company to work out how to put a camera dead-centre in the screen behind some one-way pixels will make millions. There are horrible hardware difficulties in doing so, but it doesn’t matter. PR people have been telling the tech boffins what to make possible since the iPhone ate the smartphone market, and as soon as Steve Jobs decides this is necessary, it’s exactly what will happen. The only reason he hasn’t done it already is he gets to sell the regular camera first, then the FaceTime double-camera, then probably another iteration or two before having to actually use a feature that’s good.
2. Voice Mail Transcription
Leaving someone a voicemail is now the most annoying thing you can do to someone with your phone, including throwing it at their head. At least then they have your phone. A voicemail means they have to enter a numerical sequence, wait, listen to a computerised voice, and navigate another computer menu – James Bond doesn’t have to do that much to disarm a nuclear bomb, and your stuttering mail about how you couldn’t get through is not that important. We know you tried to call, our phones tell us that already!
Voice Mail Transcription would use voice-recognition technology to translate your voicemail into a text and send it to the target’s phone. Voice technology doesn’t actually work that well yet, but if you can’t be bothered to write a message instead then you deserve to have half your words scrambled. And if the machine detects that your entire voicemail is just “I tried to call but you didn’t answer, please call me back,” the smartphone just deletes you from the contact list.
3. Call Me Mode
You might wonder why we’re giving away market-dominating ideas for free. It’s because even if other people making millions from these, as long as they happen, we still win, and the most important idea is “Call Me Mode.” With this, phone companies offer a new plan where they save bandwidth on their networks and money on your bill by never, ever connecting a call on the first attempt. Instead, dialling someone pops up as a “So-and-so wants to talk to you” alert on their phone. They don’t have to say anything, leave a message, type anything, not word one. They dial your number and it sends that message, vibrating your phone in the process. If you want to talk to them you hit “connect” and your phone dials them back.
This will revolutionise the world. Right now people calling you expect you to drop everything the second they declare you should. This new system means you only talk to people when you’re both ready for it (they must have been ready or they wouldn’t call), and if they’re not prepared to wait for your return call then it clearly wasn’t important enough for them to bother you in the first place. This simple system will increase text-messaging, e-mail, happiness and productivity of one million per cent.