With iOS 4.2 in its late beta stages, I’m sure there will be a slew of articles predicting what’s in it, and the latest new this or that. One of the “leaks” currently doing the rounds is new SMS tones and wallpapers. “Groundbreaking” as this is, it would be nice if Apple stood back, and took a look at what’s in the Cydia repos, they might find some inspiration there. Happily for those who have jailbroken there iPhones, there are a number of tools and tweaks on Cydia that have now become what I would consider essential to my happy phone usage. These are all things that I would now consider should come with the standard iOS.
You will read on the internet a number of articles which set out what their authors consider to be the best Cydia apps. This article looks a bit deeper and looks at what I use to tweak my phone, so that I have at my fingertips some of the basic features I would expect from a quality smartphone.
Auto-3G is a fantastic little app that helps to save your battery life. As I am constantly battling with a short battery life on my phone, any little tweak that can help can often be a lifesaver. Auto-3G is a simple concept. It toggles 3G on and off depending on the state your iPhone is in at the time. I have mine set so that 3G is off when my phone is asleep, when it’s connected to WiFi. 3G is off when I’m plugged in, and when the phone is actually active. This has had a noticeable effect on my battery life and works flawlessly.
This app turns your phone into a mobile WiFi hotspot, which allows other computers to connect to it and use it’s 3G connection to connect to the internet. This is a feature that the latest Android OS has as standard, and would be a great addition to iOS, rather than having to tether via USB cable only.
This application allows you to move multiple icons in the SpringBoard at once. Have you ever had the frustration of trying to move multiple apps to a new folder? This application takes the pain away by allowing you to select multiple applications to move, and then simply tapping where you want them, and they all move at once.
SBSettings – AutoLock
SBSettings is a fantastic way of getting to settings fast. There are some key settings that I use all the time, and having access to them from anywhere without having to dig down into multiple levels of the Settings app. One of these is turning Auto-Lock on and off. I’m often doing something on my phone that would be interrupted if my phone goes to sleep. Being able to toggle Auto-Lock on and off from SpringBoard is a big time and hassle saver.
SBSettings – RemoveBG
RemoveBG is another time saving toggle. It allows me to kill all of the apps that are backgrounded by iOS’s “multi-tasking”. Rather than closing these slowly one by one, a simple swipe brings up the SBSettigs menu and I can remove them all with a single press.
Custom SMS/Mail Tones
Despite the fact that Apple is graciously expanding the number of SMS alerts in iOS4.2, the tones that come standard are pretty bad, and the only decent one seems to be Tri-Tone, which means everyone has it, and if your in a room with a whole bunch of iPhones, you have no idea whose phone has gone off. The same thing applies for the email tone. Here there is no choice of tone at all in stock iOS.
This app shows your contact pictures in your contacts list. This improves the usability of the contacts app by giving better visual clues in a long list of text, and would seem to be an obvious enhancement that would not be very tricky to add as default.
The SMS application on iOS is extremely basic. There are a number of features that could and should be added that would bring this up to speed with other much cheaper phones. There are a number of third party SMS apps on Cydia. I use iRealSMS, but I understand BiteSMS is also quite good. These apps give you all sorts of features that make SMS easier, including:
- Quick reply to SMS direct from the alert pop-up, no need to close the app you’re using to respond to a new text;
- Pictures of senders in the list of texts;
- Searching texts;
- Cancel Sending;
- Folders, including for Drafts;
- Display smileys as smileys.
These features make SMS far more usable and are features you would expect as standard in any SMS app.
I’m not sure why a number of these features haven’t made it into iOS yet. Cydia and these features have been around for a long time. To date, a number of features that were only available to jailbroken phones have found their way into iOS. Let’s hope that iPhone chooses to look to the needs of its customers, rather than its own ego in upcoming iOS releases and implement some of these features.