Published Aug 16, 2009

OK, love letters to technology are fun, but the downside of any new thing is that it’s not entirely identical to old things. Here are four things that I’ve had on past cell phones that I really miss — or at least haven’t found — for my iPhone.

Profile Change Based on Calendar

Back in the old days of my Nokia 3650 running the Symbian Series 60 OS, I had a clever program that automatically changed my phone’s profile based on things on my calendar. Interrupt a meeting with a loud ringer? Never, since the phone automatically changed my profile to “silent” when it found the word “meeting” in the current calendar event. Clever!

Canned Text Responses to Rejected Calls

Virtually every phone lets you send a text to the caller when you reject their call, but, back when that was a brilliant idea, I had a program on my Treo that had canned responses that you could send too. “I’m in a meeting, please call right back if it’s so urgent that I need to break out” is too much to type when you’re supposed to be paying attention to someone else, but not much to select from a menu.

Bright, Over-Saturated Photos

Let’s face it, with the exception of a few phones, cell phone cameras are at best decent. Thanks to autofocus, the iPhone can give you some pretty clear, crisp lines. But the best way to hide a flawed photo is to give the eye something else to look at! The 3650 took awful, fuzzy, color-shifted photos that were nonetheless oversaturated and high-contrast. And that made them fun to look at, even if they were tiny and low-resolution.

App Categories

The iPhone interface is actually very similar to the old Palm interface, except, rather than giving you just a few screens to keep programs on, the Palm let you assign categories to your applications and display one category at a time. The best part of this was how easy it was to match an app and a category. Selecting the Category menu item brought up a list of all of your apps, each with a category pop-up next to it. Select the desired category in the pop-up and you were done. You could categorize a single app in a second or re-categorize everything in just a minute or two. On the iPhone, shifting things around means dragging icon after icon past screen after screen — disorganization’s easier.