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6 easy steps to make the iPhone relevant again

Apple's new iPhones aren't generating much interest. Here's what Apple can do to fix that problem.

Last week, Apple released a new iPhone. Two of them, actually: the 5s and 5c. I've been trying, unsuccessfully, to think of something worthwhile to say about that.

I could talk about how I don't particularly care for the design. But, gauging from the reaction of every other nerd on the internet, you all feel the same way, and you probably aren't terribly excited about hearing about it for the 18 thousandth time today.

I could talk about how these new iPhones don't really provide any significant new capability over previous models, or how they're still lagging behind so many Android devices from a feature and tech perspective. Again. That's probably been written about almost as often as how ugly the design is.

It's not as though Apple is alone in the "not terribly good-looking devices that don't seem like much of an improvement over previous models or other similar devices" world. There are plenty of Android- and Windows-powered phones in that prestigious club. I could fill multiple pages with nothing but the names of smartphones that I'm simply not at all interested in writing about. Or, for that matter, thinking about. Or noticing out of the corner of my eye.

So I've been adequately negative about the new, hideous-looking iPhones. Let's change gears and talk about things that would be worthy of our interest and attention. What could Apple add or change in a new iPhone that would get someone like me interested?

Industry-standard ports. Notice how nearly every other device on the planet uses those awesome little tiny USB ports for connecting and charging? Notice how convenient and obviously handy that is? Yeah. Get on that, Apple. If you could stop annoying iPhone owners by requiring them to buy new dongles and adaptors every two days, that'd be super. And it'd probably be cheaper for Apple in the long run, too.

Dramatically improved camera. The camera in the iPhone 5 isn't bad. It really isn't. But it's also not the best, which means, if I'm interested in having a phone with a great camera, I'm not going to be interested in an iPhone.

Waterproof, hard-to-break design. Wouldn't it be nice to take underwater photos? Of course it would. And there are phones out there that that are submergible. Make an iOS device that's capable of that, and you're going to turn some heads.

Full Mac Desktop in an iPhone. You may have noticed the amazing attention that Canonical got with the Ubuntu Edge, a phone that, when plugged into an HDMI monitor (or TV set) becomes a full desktop computer. Apple has full control over the hardware and software. iOS is built on the same core technology as MacOS. So... get to it. I know a lot of nerds - even those who have, historically, despised MacOS – who would jump all over an iPhone that pulled double duty as a desktop replacement.

Reduce restrictions on the App Store. Let's be clear about this. Android is absolutely dominating iOS right now. One of the (many) reasons for that is that Android doesn't try to dictate what people can and can't do with their device. Want to install an application just by downloading it from a website? No problem. Want to build an app - and release it in the Play Store - that allows you to edit and run code right from your device? No problem there either. That's the beauty of Android. iOS could use to loosen up a bit.

Themeable UI. The new iOS look makes my eyes bleed. If Apple wants me to even consider using their stuff, they're going to need to focus on design. I know. That sounds weird. But Apple just absolutely stinks at design lately. If they simply made things a bit more themeable, that would solve the problem. Let the community create new skins and themes for you. Just take a look at some of the amazing design work being done in the Linux world lately for a good idea of what is possible.

Better screen. Remember when the "retina display" was awesome? Well... it's not anymore. In fact, damn near every high-end Android phone as both higher resolutions and higher pixel density, which is mildly astounding considering most of those devices are substantially less expensive than even the "low-end, all-plastic, toy-looking" iPhone 5c.

There. I just told Apple how to fix the iPhone and make it interesting and relevant again. Now go do it, Apple. In the meantime, I'm going to continue enjoying my Android devices.

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