It seems as though Apple is experimenting with some of those things as well: the company recently filed a patent for including a contact, with picture, on the iPhone's home screen as an icon. Rather than navigate through the system to find your aunt that you call all the time, you could save auntie's picture on the home screen, and then hit one icon to call her up.
Unfortunately for Apple, as Engadget points out, the Android OS actually lets you do this already, so the chances of their getting this patent approved are low. But it does tell us that Apple is at least thinking about how they could make the homescreen a little more useful. They may still be tied to the icon scheme, but at least they're looking at adding a little more functionality.