I think that your complaint may be less about Asterisk and more about SIP.
Asterisk is largely developed around the SIP protocol, which was not originally designed to carry voice over IP. H.323 was designed to do that, but that belongs in the realm of the ITU, and tends to be a top-heavy protocol with LOTS to write code around to make it really work well.
When you want open standards you look to the IETF. The protocol in their basket of tricks (that most closely matched for audio transport) was SIP.
Sadly, SIP isn’t as developed or complete when it comes to PBX functions as H.323, and so the things it’s able to support, (like shared call appearences) are somewhat limited. It will do most things that people need it to do, but not everything.
Even more discouraging are the competing solutions to many of the shortcomings. For SCA, a quick google check brings up SIP2, SIMPLE, and many other “enhancements”, only one of which will ultimately be chosen to be part of the protocol.
Until the SIP protocol becomes more developed, you should expect that there will be holes in the functionality, and for product manufacturers to sit back and wait for standards to shake out and be adopted before they produce phones that can do the things we all want to do.
As far as the list of new features in Asterisk is concerned, you may not figure a different parsing scheme to be a feature, but a developer who’s building solutions around the Asterisk code might think it’s just what they needed… I suppose when it comes to labeling something a “feature”, it’s all point of view.
I always assert that it’s better to think of Asterisk as a development platform, rather than a finished product that has this or that functionality. If it’s not doing what you want it to do, change it. You have access to the code. If you’re unwilling to dive into the code, or pay someone else to do it for you, then you really wanted a standard PBX. Not Asterisk.