iPhone 3.1 Beta 1 has just been released, and unlike the major new version that was iPhone 3.0, it's still unclear how many features -- compared with bug fixes -- will be added. However, enterprising developers have already discovered at least a few things we can all look forward too.
So, here's TiPb's iPhone 3.1 Beta Walkthrough, and we'll keep it updated as/if Apple releases future betas.
The jigglies -- what Dieter lovingly calls the little dance icons do when you hold them down long enough to make them moveable and rearrangeable -- now make the iPhone vibrate once to further indicate the change of state. Whether or not this will somehow factor in to the iPhone 3GS accessibility features is uncertain.
Voice Control, after holding down the Home button for several seconds, let you speak simple commands to place calls and control music. In iPhone 3.1, it will also work over Bluetooth.
The exact process isn't clear yet, but it's hard to imagine anything other than holding down the call button on a Bluetooth headset function similarly to how the Home button currently works.
After being present in iPhone 3.0 Beta 1 through Beta 4, before being stripped out in Beta 5, AT&T users will again find MMS functionality restored to the interface. However, it's not functional without hacking the carrier file, and it's unknown if it will survive until release or be stripped out again if AT&T still isn't ready for the feature to go live.
Calendar gets a minor tweak in iPhone 3.1. Now event alerts also display the location of the event in the popup. Presumably, this is now considered important glance-able information.
Video trimming is now non-destructive. Previously, if you trimmed a video, it was automatically saved over the original, meaning you could never undo or go back to the full clip. Now, a Save As... dialog gives you the option of preserving the original and creating as many version copies as you want (an short clip to email, a longer one to share to YouTube, and the full clip to sync and bring into iMovie, for example).
Copy and Paste comes to the Phone Keypad. Just tap and hold and the input area will change from dark blue to light blue, and the Copy Paste menu will pop up.
Reportedly, the iPhone Paste feature is "smart" enough to change alphanumeric phone numbers to pure numbers (i.e. 1-800-FLOWERS to 1-800-356-9377).
When Will it Ship?
If history is any indication, iPhone 2.0 was released on July 11, 2008, and iPhone 2.1 followed some two months and 4 betas later on September 12, 2008 hot on the heels of Apple's Let's Rock introduction of the 2nd generation iPod touch. Will we have to wait for another new iPod and music event before we see 3.1?
Our guess is Apple will try to get 3.1 out earlier to fix a few of the more onerous bugs, but as always, only Jobs knows for sure...
Note on Using Beta Software
Unlike iPhone 2.0 Betas, where access seemed much more limited and leaks were few and far between, 3.1 like 3.0 seems to be on every iPhone users want-now list. Also, unlike 2.0 when many devs were seasoned pros, now Apple is touting thousands upon thousands in the program, some seemingly happy enough to enable 3.0 access for the general user base.
However, betas are intended for developers to test and report back on. They're not as stable, not as snappy, not as feature-complete and anyone trying to use them as a production OS on their main (or worse, only) device is likely to have something less than an ideal experience. People trying to use it as such may wish they could go back to iPhone 3.0 almost as much as they wished for 3.1. Think thrice before taking the plunge.