iPhone OS 3.0 review
Complete review of Apple's iPhone OS 3.0 software for iPhone and iPod touch
Waiting to download iPhone 3.0? Trying to figure out exactly what's included in the new OS? Wondering what's changed since iPhone 2.2.1? Need a handy link to send your friends who may have questions? TiPb's got your back with our complete iPhone 3.0 Software Walkthrough.
Previously, we took you through all five beta versions, now we'll take you through the final GM (gold master) seed. (And when it goes live on iTunes for one and all, we'll update any changes we find as well, so consider this your one-stop-shop for everything iPhone 3.0).
And we'll get started, right after the break.
iPhone 3.0 software offers a host of new features (100 according to Apple). However, not all of these are available on every hardware generation. Here's a list of the differences, and we'll mention them again, as appropriate, below.
- 2009 iPhone 3GS: All features
- 2008 iPhone 3G: no video camera, voice control, compass, or related features.
- 2007 iPhone 2G: no video camera, voice control, compass, stereo Bluetooth, MMS, or related features.
Also note: iPhone 3.0 launches 2 days before iPhone 3GS, so until we can get our hands on the new hardware and take proper screenshots, we've included captures from Apple's video. We apologize for the lower quality and will swap them out as soon as we can.
What Hasn't Changed
As has become our custom, we'll start off by listing what hasn't changed in iPhone 3.0. It's amazingly short this time:
- Weather: Still unchanged from iPhone 1.0. Still no HTC TouchFlo 3D-style animations, and no landscape mode with more/different information. Nada.
- Calculator: Previously upgraded for iPhone 2.0 with landscape-activated scientific mode, calculator doesn't sport any additions this time around.
- That's it!
At first glance the SpringBoard app behind the iPhone 3.0 Home Screen seems identical to earlier versions. Sure, SMS is now labeled Messages, the Stocks icon has had a make-over, there's a new Voice Memos icon and app and -- exclusively for iPhone 3GS owners -- a new Compass icon and app.
With iPhone 2.x, Apple introduced 9 Home Screen pages, allowing 148 apps total. iPhone 3.0 expands that to 11 pages, allowing 180 apps total (11 built in, leaving 159 for 3rd party apps and WebClip Safari bookmark shortcuts -- rumor has it you can load more, but their icons won't be visible).
Not much else looks different. There are still tiny dots above the dock that signify your additional app screen. However, there's now an equally tiny magnifying glass icon to the left of them...
On the Mac, Spotlight is the system-wide indexing and search feature that allows you to find files by scouring through metadata and text strings. Apple re-purposes the name and icon here for a new, system-wide iPhone search feature that serves up Contact names, App names, iPod media file names, Email headers (from, to, and subject), and Calendar event names.
You can access Spotlight from the main/primary Home Screen by swiping from left to right, or by clicking the Home Button. When on the Spotlight Screen, you can return the main/primary Home Screen by swiping back from right to left, or clicking the Home Button again. (Yes, clicking Home will toggle you back and forth between those two screens).
Spotlight starts with a blacked-out screen with a search box on top and the portrait keyboard on the bottom (no landscape mode for Spotlight thus far). As you type, results begin to populate the screen, narrowing as you refine your search term. At any point, you can tap on a Spotlight search result to launch the app and/or take you to the resulting content within an app.
Hitting the blue Search button at the bottom right will slide the virtual keyboard away and give you full screen results. Or almost full screen. Since Spotlight is integrated into the Home Screen, the Dock is revealed along with the results so you can quickly launch any of your four docked apps (Phone, Mail, Safari, and iPod if you've kept the defaults).
With iPhone 3.0 when used in conjunction with iPhone 3GS, holding down the Home button (or the center button on earphones) sounds a tone and launches Voice Control, which takes the VoiceOver feature introduced in the iPod shuffle to the next level by allowing you to talk to the iPhone.
Voice Control's interface is simply a wave form with the various commands floating by, and a cancel button. Currently, supported commands include: call/dial [contact name], call [contact telephone number], play [playlist name, album name, artist name, song name], what [song, group] is this, play more songs like this (creates Genius playlist), shuffle.
A second tone is followed by VoiceOver (which is computer generated) repeating back your command and then your corresponding call or music starts.
(It's not hard to see this eventually expanded to include things like: email Bob at work, launch app Peggle, take voice memo, etc. now is it?)
One of the most impressive aspects is how many languages will be supported by Voice Control at launch:
Chinese (Mainland), Chinese (Taiwan), Czech, Danish, Dutch (Belgian), Dutch (Netherlands), English (Australian), English (UK), English (U.S.), Finnish, French (Canada), French (France), German, Greek, Hungarian, Indonesian, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Norwegian, Polish, Portuguese (Brazil), Portuguese (Portugal), Romanian, Russian, Slovak, Spanish (Mexico), Spanish (Spain), Swedish, Thai, Turkish
Under iPhone OS 1.x and 2.x, holding the Home button down allowed you to force a frozen application to quit, clear the RAM, and return to the Home Screen. Since, as mentioned above, holding down the Home button now launches Voice Control on the iPhone 3GS -- and does nothing on the iPhone 2G or iPhone 3G, Force Quit has be reassigned.
Now, to Force Quit an app you hold down the sleep button until the the red "slide to power off" control appears. Then hold the Home button down (it can take a while so keep holding!) and -- presto! -- the current process will be terminated, memory cleared, and you'll be taken back to the Home Screen.
Messages is the new SMS, and is renamed to signify the addition of MMS (multi-media messaging service). It allows, in the case of the new iPhone OS 3.0 software, for you to receive, vCards (contacts), audio, location, and -- for iPhone 3GS only -- video to be sent using the Messages interface to any other smartphone or feature-phone that supports MMS and those file types.
Once you receive an MMS, you can tap the icon in the message bubble to get a better look at it. In the case of a contact, you'll see a page similar to what you get when you call up a contact in Phone, except at the very bottom you'll have extra, saving and sharing related options that we'll cover later in the Phone app section.
Location opens in Google Maps as you'd expect, audio and video in iPod, and images pop up full screen where you can tap the share icon to Save Image -- but strangely not re-share it...
Note: The details of MMS vary carrier to carrier. While many international carriers do have MMS enabled with the iPhone 3.0 launch, AT&T is the largest and most notable exception.
When it comes to sending MMS, only picture sending can be initiated from within the Messages app itself. Everything else starts a "share" function from another app (i.e. Share Contact is in Contacts, Share Location is in Google Maps, Share Audio is in Voice Recorder, etc.)
There are two ways to insert a picture into MMS. The first is to tap the camera icon, bottom right. A requester will ask if you want to Take Photo or Choose Existing. Take Photo will call up an embedded version of the Camera app. Frame your picture, tap the camera icon, look at the preview and either hit Retake to try again or Use to insert the picture into your MMS window. (If you want to erase it later, just backspace over it like you would a text character you want to delete)
Choose Existing will call up an image picker (like the Photo App). Pick an Album, pick a picture, and tap Choose to confirm.
The second way to insert a picture into MMS is to paste it...
The new, system-wide Cut, Copy, and Paste service has also been introduced into Messages. It works in a similar way to the implementation in the Notes app, and we'll cover it more fully there. One difference is that double tapping a previous SMS will give you the Copy popup allowing you to duplicate the entire contents of the SMS to the clipboard. Tapping on an empty entry box will launch the Paste popup, so you can stick the contents back down in an message of your own. If the entry box already contains text, double tapping will select the closest word, and double tapping an holding will select the closet word and popup the loupe.
Again, we'll cover this more fully in the section for the Notes app.
Messages also now includes line-item deletion and forwarding. Tap the Edit button at the top right, select the messages you want -- as many of them as you want -- and then hit the red Delete button at the bottom, or the blue Forward button beside it. Edit still isn't the most elegant name for the combination of deletion and forwarding, mind you, but the functionality is consistent with the Mass Edit feature introduced for Mail in iPhone 2.0.
Lastly, Apple has also answered the call for pervasive landscape-style keyboards, and Messages is one of the text-entry apps that received it. For those who want a Cadillac-wide typing experience, enjoy!
(Note to Apple: a way to "lock" the iPhone in portrait or landscape mode would be appreciated, especially when typing while reclining and every little angle change sends the UI spinning.)
Calendar appears largely unchanged from the perspective of the app itself. No landscape rotation for week view -- still no week view of any kind.
There are, however, two very welcome new features for Exchange users. You can now add Invitees and set Availability when adding a new event.
Tap Invitees to open the Add Invitees pane, then start typing to search for contacts or hit the blue + icon to pull up the embedded Contacts picker. You can add more than one invitee.
Tap Availability to choose between Busy, Free, Tentative, and Out of office.
The other changes occur in the plumbing and are -- somewhat counter-intuitively for us at least -- hidden almost entirely away inside the Preferences app (see that section for more details). That's a shame because they're rather significant: support for CalDAV and Subscribed Calendars (i.e. holidays, sports schedules, etc.).
Once added via Preferences, however, here's an example of how Subscribed Calendars look:
The Photo app receives an update in the form of integration into the Copy (no Cut or Paste here!), MMS, and -- for the iPhone 3GS -- video camera systems.
For iPhone 3GS users, the Camera Roll now also includes any videos you've shot with the device. Similar to how iPhoto on the Mac handles video thumbnails, they're shown intermingled with still pictures, a transparent black bar along the bottom showing the video icon and the run time of the video. Tabs along the top let you switch from the All view to Photos only or Videos only as well.
When in the Gallery view mode (where pictures are tiled in four columns of thumbnails), tapping on the Action button at the bottom left corner will no longer slide up a menu, but will place two or three buttons along the bottom. For Camera Roll, these are Share, Copy, and Delete. For any other galleries, you'll still get Copy and Share, but not Delete (yes, you still can't delete synced photos, only ones you've taken with the camera itself).
Tapping on a thumbnail will select it (or de-select it if it has already been selected). Selected photos are labeled with a red check mark icon in the lower right corner, and number of photos selected is reported in parenthesis and continuously updated beside each of the buttons. However, if you select more than 5 images, Share will no longer be enabled (you can still copy them and paste them into Mail, however.)
Tapping on Share button will let you send the photos via Email or MMS, Copy will place them on the clipboard, and Delete (Camera Roll only) will trash them.
In single photo viewing mode, you can Copy an image to the clipboard by touching and holding. A Copy button will pop up just above you finger. Tap it and the image is copied.
Also in single photo viewing mode, the Action button now brings up a longer list of options: Email Photo, MMS, Send to MobileMe, Assign to Contact, Use as Wallpaper.
iPhone 3.0 also now presents the Action button in Landscape mode, though the list view isn't as attractive for some reason. When in Landscape mode, f you choose to share via Email or MMS, for example, the Email or Messages app pops up in Landscape mode as well. Expected, but we don't always get what we expect so it's still nice to see.
Sharing to MobileMe now does double duty, publishing photos and video alike. For photos, you can choose any existing MobileMe gallery, but can't create a new one. Video is similar, though adds YouTube to the list of supported targets. We'll cover that at the end of this section.
For iPhone 3GS users, you can view and share videos in much the same way as photos. Tapping on a video in the gallery bring it up full screen, portrait or landscape, along with a big Play button in the center. Hitting the play button, of course, plays the video.
If the controls are up (tap the screen to reveal or hide the controls), you'll see similar options to photos, though the play button here will play the video, not start a slide show. The biggest difference is the Trimming control along the top. Similar to how Voice Memo works (we'll cover that later), you can drag to select a point you want to see in the video, or you can drag either end -- at which point the outline turns yellow -- to cut off part of the beginning or end of the video. Tapping the yellow Trim button will re-save just the selected part of the video.
Note: trimming video is current destructive -- you save over the full clip with the trimmed clip, and can't go back. iPhone 3.1 Beta, however, looks to provide a Save As function for non-destructive video editing.
Options for sharing video include Email Video, MMS, Send to MobileMe, and Send to YouTube, though video will be highly compressed for sharing, and file size limits may not let all videos be shared via all options.
For iPhone 2G and iPhone 3G, the Camera app gets a minor tweak. Now, after you take a picture, instead of the Camera Roll icon at the bottom right, you see a tiny thumbnail of the last photo taken. (Even if there are additional items in the Camera Roll, like screen-captures, only the last actual camera photo taken is shown).
iPhone 3GS gets the above tweak, and a major upgrade thanks to the new auto-focus lens. Now, Camera will try to focus on what it thinks is the most important element of your photo -- even macro! If, however, you want to focus on something else instead, just tap the iPhone screen to re-focus. A handy square overlays the sweet spot, so you can make sure the lens is set exactly where you want it to be.
Perhaps the biggest addition for iPhone 3GS is the ability to shoot not only still pictures... but video as well. To switch from still picture to video capture mode, simply toggle the slider at the bottom right of the screen. When you do, the camera icon, used to take a still picture, is replaced with a red recording icon that stays dark when in standby mode but blinks when video is being taken (keeping the common vidcam metaphor alive and well). Like with still pictures, video can be taken in portrait or landscape mode.
The big news for the YouTube app in iPhone 3.0 is account integration. You can now enter your YouTube login information for access to your Subscriptions and Playlists.
The Stocks widget is still powered by Yahoo, and still lists your favorite stocks on top and a handy graph at the bottom. You can now swipe across that handy, however, to change it into a news feed or a more detailed set of information including opening price, high, low, volume, P/E, market cap, 52 week high, 52 week low, average volume, and yield.
Rotating Stocks to landscape mode now expands the graph to full, wide screen mode. But there's more: youch a point on the graph and you get the exact price for that day, touch a second finger somewhere else on the graph and you get the difference in value between those two days (delta).
For iPhone 2G and iPhone 3G owners, Maps is the same as 2.1. Sure, under iPhone 3.0 developers can now embed the maps in their App Store apps, but from the built-in point of view -- nothing. (Google Latitude will, apparently get support via the browser, go figure?)
For iPhone 3GS owners, however, Maps will now leverage the new digital Compass hardware. Tap the Get Location button to find your coordinates via GPS, then tap it again to get your directional heading via the Compass (shown as an expanding white spotlight effect extending out ahead of you).
Following iTunes and App Store, Apple's third new built in app since launching the iPhone is also it's first new, non-Storefront app. Voice Memos is also the first new app to shove its way into the middle of the existing apps (iTunes and App Store were added to the end).
(Note to sticklers: Remote and Keynote, though from Apple, aren't built in to the software and require download or purchase separately from the App Store.)
Voice Memos, from icon to main screen, pays homage to an old-style microphone (though, unlike Calculator, we don't believe it's one ever manufactured by Braun...). The bottom has buttons for Record and (a rather non-intuitive-looking stack of three horizontal lines) to access Voice Memos that have previously been recorded. In the middle is a sound level meter.
Tap Record to begin and the Record button becomes Pause, the More button becomes Stop, and the top of the screen flashes red to show you you're recording and the duration of the recording.
When you're finished recording, the More page shows Voice Memos in a similar fashion to Visual Voice Mail in the Phone app. Tap a Voice Memo to play or pause it, toggle Speaker on or off, or use the buttons along the bottom to Share (via email or MMS) or Delete.
You can also tap the blue circles at the far right of each recording to slide into an Info screen where you can further tap to slide across to a Label screen pre-populated with tags including None, Podcast, Interview, Lecture, Idea, Meeting, Memo, and Custom. Choosing Custom slides another screen over where you can input your own Label names.
Back on the Info screen, tapping on Trim Memo slides up a bare-bones editing interface for taking off any unwanted content from the beginning and/or end of your recording. Interestingly, Apple chose yellow for trim slider and Trim Voice Memo action button.
Share on the Info screen does the same thing as the Share button on the Voice Memos screen. Convenience through repetition?
First up, you can now "swipe to delete" notes from the main contents screen, just as you could "swipe to delete" email all the way back to the original iPhone OS. Consistency points!
Next, like messages, Notes benefits from the several system-wide -- or at least multi-app-wide -- improvements in iPhone 3.0. The first is the pervasive landscape keyboard. Just rotate and the accelerometer does the rest.
The big thing, of course, is Cut, Copy and Paste. It works similarly for text -- though not identically -- across all supported applications, so we'll do the heavy lifting here.
To start, double tap on some text. That will highlight the word and pop-up buttons for Cut, Copy, and Paste (the last of which only appears if there's already text in the clipboard). You can also tap on an empty area to pop-up buttons for Select, Select All, and Paste. (Select highlight the closest word to the current cursor position, and again you need text already in the clipboard for Paste to appear).
If you want to change the length of your selection, grab one of the blue dot's that form the handles on the top left or bottom right of your current selection and drag them in or out to add or subtract text. As you move the handles, a magnifying loupe will appear, similar in function to the round curser placement loupe that dates back to iPhone 1.0. This loupe, however, is a wide, horizontal, rounded rectangle and lets you more precisely adjust your text selection.
Selected text can then be Cut or Copied to the clipboard, or replaced by Pasting over it with text from the clipboard.
Text can also be pasted at the current cursor location by double tapping to bring up the Select, Select All, and Paste pop up.
If at any time you either type or paste something in by mistake, Apple has added a gimmicky yet semi-cool undo feature -- just shake your iPhone to call up an Undo, Redo, and Cancel dialog.
(Note: While the Mail app, discussed below, gets similar Cut, Copy and Paste functionality, so do most 3rd part App Store application that use standard text input controls. Awesome).
Finally implementing functionality that Steve Jobs listed off during his iPhone 1.0 introduction at Macworld 2007, Notes now sync via iTunes back to your Windows PC or Mac.
Lastly, predictive text in general seems to have been improved as of Beta 3. Or rather, the dictionary that tries to guess and replace words as you type seems to have been updated.
The Clock app gets a minor tweak -- you get a lap display in the upper right hand corner of the Stop Watch. While the main stopwatch shows total time as always, the lap counter shows only the time passed since you last hit the lap button.
Apple typically tucks numerous changes, large and small, neatly away inside the Settings app, and iPhone 3.0 is no exception. Due to the volume of changes, we'll break them down by category.
Auto-login increases the ease of logging into commercial-style Wi-Fi services (the kind that typically present a web-based password form for authentication, like at hotels or coffee shops). In Settings, you now have the option to toggle on Auto-Join, which saves passwords and then automatically uses it next time to return to the same network.
Also, when you login, you get a special slide-up window with some new controls and an embeded web-view — no more inconvenient app-jump to Safari.
An added benefit for fans fans of super-strong, pseudo-random passwords -- the kind almost impossible to type by hand -- paste works in the password field. This means you can copy it from an email or text file of any kind and paste it right in. Very welcome!
Push Notifications gets its own top level button in Beta 3 and as of Beta 5 and Apple beginning Push Notification testing, not only can users globally or individually enable or disable Sounds, Alerts (text boxes), and/or Badges, but each app gets its own sub-screen to do likewise. (i.e. if you want Twitter to badge but not alert, IM to sound but not badge, etc. you can have it your way).
As with GPS on iPhone 3G under OS 2.0, Push Notification-enabled apps will ask permission on launch, and give you a chance to choose "Don't Allow" or "Okay" on a per-app basis as well.
General Settings: Network
New to Network Settings is Internet Tethering. On supported carriers (and no, AT&T isn't supporting it yet and there's no word on when they will) Internet Tethering will display current status, Off or On.
Tap the button to go to the Internet Tethering Settings, then toggle the switch to On. If Bluetooth isn't currently enabled, an alert will pop up asking you if you want to enable it, or to leave it off and tether via USB.
When tethering is on, a blue bar appears at the top of the screen, similar to the green bar that appears when a phone call is in progress. Unfortunately, unlike the green phone bar, it tapping the blue tethering bar doesn't seem to send you back to the tethering Settings to quickly toggle it off.
General Settings: Restrictions
iPhone 3.0 now provide more in the way of Parental Controls. First off, iPod has been removed from the top menu and Location has been added. A secondary menu has now been added below to provide more granular control over iPod content, allowing you to select which country/region ratings you use, and then set Music & Podcasts, Movies, and TV Shows. Control for Apps is at the very bottom.
App Restrictions can be based on age-ratings. Currently supported options are:
- Don’t Allow Apps
- Allow All Apps
General Settings: Home
Additional options are now available for you to assign to a double-click of the Home button. They've grown from Home (i.e. same as single click), Phone Favorites, and iPod to now include Search (epic win for mobile accomplishers) and Camera.
A sub-menu for Search Results allows you to check on or off the exact types of information you want called up in a Spotlight Search. Options include Contacts, Applications, Music, Podcasts, Video, Audiobooks, Notes, Mail, and Calendar.
You can also tap and hold down the line icons on the right side of any category and drag them to change the order of how search results are presented (i.e. you could move Applications on top of Contacts, and Spotlight will then list Apps first).
Courtesy of BGR, it looks like Voice Control's languages settings will be found here when iPhone 3.0 is running on iPhone 3GS hardware.
General: Keyboard: International Keyboards and General: International, Keyboards
Even more international language keyboards are now available in iPhone 3.0: Arabic, Greek, Hebrew, Indonesian, Malay, and Thai. Good news for people in those regions eager to get their iPhone on. (And let's see a hardware keyboard do that!)
Settings: Mail, Contacts, Calendar
You can add a MobileMe account, just like before, but now if you already have bookmarks, contacts, or other data on your iPhone (for example, if you synced it over via iTunes) and you enable MobileMe, a menu will slide up asking if you want to Merge the data, Not merge (i.e. replace), or Cancel.
Once you've added a MobileMe account, there's now a new option called Find My iPhone. Turn it on, then go to www.me.com, login to your Account tab, and choose Find My iPhone from the sidebar. A map will show you the current, approximate GPS coordinates for your iPhone. There are also options to send a text and/or sound alert to your iPhone (e.g. a number where you can be reached if someone finds it), and to remote wipe your device if you think it's been stolen or permanently lost and you want to protect your data.
As mentioned previously, also hidden here are the new LDAP (contacts directory), CalDAV, and Calendar Subscription, features under Add Account, Other.
Options can be found here for the new AutoFill feature, and a submenu for choosing who's Contact Info you want to use for the fill, as well as an option to allow Names & Passwords to be stored and AutoFilled, and a button for Clear All to wipe the AutoFill database clean. This, at least, gives us some control as to whether we want the security of not storing and filling our passwords on a device that could be lost or accessed without our approval, or the convenience of saving us a lot of typing.
Likewise, the new anti-Phishing Fraud Warning can be toggled on and off. Keeping it on, of course, provides some level of safety when encountering malicious websites made to look like ones we trust, intent on stealing our login info and/or credit card data. Of course, no list of Phishing sites is ever complete or completely up to date, so keep surfing safely.
With the addition of MMS in iPhone 3.0, now, of course, Settings follow to includes an MMS Messaging On/Off toggle.
New to the iPod Setting is a toggle to enable the Shake to Shuffle option that Apple debuted with the latest generation iPod shuffle.
Not as elegant as it looks in iTunes or App Store apps, but Settings give you a third, convenient point for on-device switching between iTunes store accounts. You can sign in, view account details, and sign out. Then you can sign in under a different account (i.e. spouse's account, different country's store, etc.)
Note: There was some confusion about whether or not Apple would let you re-download paid apps if you enabled multiple accounts (so you couldn't log in as your buddy, for example, and get all his or her apps for free) but the restrictions that were in place during the beta period seem to be gone (for now?)
As mentioned above, iTunes Store now allows management of multiple iTunes accounts. Scroll down to the bottom of a main page (i.e. before you’ve selected a specific piece of content to look at) and you’ll find a button containing your account username.
Tap on the button and you’ll be given options to View Account, Sign Out, or Cancel. Much more convenient than having to exit, launch Settings, navigate, switch accounts, go back, etc.
iTunes also adds to the previous music and podcast on-device download capability with support for Movie, TV Show, Music Video, Audio Book, and iTunes U content.
To make room, the tabs at the bottom lose Top Tens and Downloads and now include Videos (movies, TV, music video) and a standard More icon, which gives access to a screen offering Audio Books and iTunes U, as well as the displaced Downloads and relocated Redeem (for gift certificate codes).
Like with the iPod App, an Edit button lets you drag around tab icons to lay things out just the way you want them.
When you find a video you want to learn more about, tap on it and you get a detailed description. Like with music, you can sample before you buy. Tap the Preview button to see a short clip or trailer. Instead of just playing like music, however, iTunes opens an embedded iPod video player.
Also, like with video podcasts, music, and App Store apps, 3G isn't an option for anything over 10MB -- which for video we imagine will be almost everything -- so have your Wi-Fi standing by.
App Store gets the same iTunes account management functionality as the iTunes store, above.
Also, Apple has also and again changed the way screen shots appear in the App Store. Now, you get full screen shots, side by side, with the ability to swipe through them. You can see additional screenshots on each side when more are available backward or forwards. (Similar to how you swipe through multiple Safari tab pages).
In-App Purchases and Subscriptions
Two other changes coming to the app store, in-app purchases and subscriptions, are more difficult to document right now because no apps that make use of them have currently been released in the App Store. So, we'll base this for now on what Apple has presented and update it as soon as real-world examples go wide.
By way of example, if you previously wanted commercial E-Books, a developer had to wrap a reader app around each E-Book, and then sell each E-Book as a separate app on the App Store. This led to dozens upon dozens of apps that were just more books, or otherwise variations on the same functionality with different content.
With iPhone 3.0, a developer can now sell you an E-Book Reader app, and inside that app, they can sell you the individual E-Books. If you choose to buy another E-Book, the same type of iTunes confirmation and password requester will pop up as when you buy a stand-alone app, and the same iTunes-side billing and processing happen.
This can also work to buy additional levels or extra content in games, and theoretically map packs for navigation apps, etc.
Yes, Apple just invented the $0.99 "scaleware" model. Buy the low-price, entry-level version of an App, and if you like it, buy more. It's not a demo, it's not shareware, but it does let developers a way to create a cheap evaluation model for users to try before they buy... more of it.
Why $0.99? To avoid user confusion, Apple won't let developers sell additional content to apps they gave away for free. If you want to charge more later, you have to charge at least something up front. Otherwise, "free apps stay free."
Subscriptions, for their part, seem to work just like In-App Purchases, with the pop-up advising you are purchasing X issues of Y content for Z dollars. (e.g. 6 months of iPhone Monthly for $1.99).
Perhaps the highest profile addition to third party apps, if not the App Store proper, is the release of the-anticipated Push Notification service (PNS).
This service is supposed to replace some forms of background multi-tasking support, which Apple allows for their own apps like Mail, Phone, and iPod, but sites battery life, stability, and complexity of management as reasons not to grant third party (App Store) apps the same privilege.
So, under iPhone 2.0, if you exit an Instant Messenger (IM) app, you no longer have anyway of knowing when a new IM comes in unless and until you deliberately relaunch the app. (Sure, there are work around over SMS and Email, but the app itself is dead).
Under iPhone 3.0, if you exit an IM that supports PNS, the developer's servers will alert Apple's PNS which then "push" an alert to your iPhone. (Similar to how MobileMe already pushes alerts for email).
If you have IM, Twitter, a news app, etc. Apple's servers will handle all of them, so theoretically your iPhone only has to listen to PNS instead of each one separately. One instead of many is supposed to save battery life.
PNS currently supports 3 kinds of alerts: badges (like Mail uses to show you unread messages), custom sounds (like a beep or bell or anything already built into the app by the developer), or modal text alerts (like the kind that pop up to tell you about a new SMS).
With the text alerts, if an alert comes in, it will stay up until you dismiss it or act upon it (e.g view an IM). If a second (or third, or more) text alert comes in, however, it replaces the previous one, and that previous alert is gone forever. In other words, if nine alerts come in, you'll only ever see the ninth one and dealing with it gives you a blank screen, not the eighth -- or previous -- alert. (Badges, if used and enabled, would still show you 9 messages had come in).
If your iPhone is in sleep mode, alerts will still pop up, but the "swipe to unlock" will dismiss them, but not send you to the alerting app. Less than ideal, but perhaps the best solution given the limited notification handling the iPhone currently employs.
Dock and Bluetooth Accessory Connection
Potentially the biggest and most exciting development for iPhone 3.0, if not the iPhone in general, is the ability of developers to make apps that directly communicate with accessories/peripherals via the USB dock connector or Bluetooth radio.
This means, in short, the iPhone will be able to connect with, display data for, and/or control medical equipment like glucose readers, production equipment like cameras, barcode readers, game controllers, keyboards -- almost anything developers care to create protocols for.
Peer-to-Peer connectivity leverages Bonjour networking and the Bluetooth radio to create an easy way for apps to join together and exchange data. It's clearly directed at multi-player gaming, but Apple points out that any app can take advantage of it to share business cards, photos, or almost anything. Yes, it's the return of "beaming".
Finally, Apple grants developers access to your iPod library. Now, third party apps can let you play, switch, and otherwise listen and control your music right from inside the app, without having to exit, launch the iPod app, exit, and re-launch the original app.
The Compass app is exclusive to the iPhone 3GS hardware, because that hardware is the only current device with a built-in magnetometer. The app shows a stylized compass that will spin to show either true north or magnetic north, depending on which one you've chose from the Info screen. Via the GPS, coordinates are also shown along the bottom.
If magnetic fields or something else prevent clear readings, an interface comes up asking you to rotate the iphone in an figure-8 patter to reacquire compass headings.
With iPhone 3.0, the Phone app's Recents tab, when you tap the arrow to get more information, now shows you incoming calls from that contact, the time, and the duration. If you spoke to that contact repeatedly without any other contacts in between, multiple entries will show you the information for each one of those calls.
Also, the Contacts tab (and the stand alone Contacts app) now integrate the "swipe to delete" functionality we all know and love from Email and other, previous apps going all the way back to iPhone 1.x. Simply pick a name, and then swipe to call up the red “Delete” button.
Email still hasn't gotten a unified inbox or threaded messaging or unified messaging, but iPhone 3.0 does give the Email app a few improvements by way of the new system-wide changes.
Landscape keyboard lovers rejoice, Email now gives you the wide treatment when to rotate to that orientation. Like with other apps, if you're already in landscape when you share, link to, or otherwise launch Email, it comes up the very same way.
You also get the same Cut, Copy and Paste functionality as Notes with a couple notable exceptions. First, you get support to copy rich text formatting (bold, italic, html). Second you can also paste pictures you may have copied from the Photo or Safari apps. We're not sure if there's a limit to the amount of pictures you can send via 3G from the iPhone in a single mail yet, but we've received 9 in one shot so far. If anyone has reached a hard limit, let us know.
Spotlight lives inside Mail to, just like it did inside Contacts with OS 2.0. Scroll up slightly inside a mail box and you get the search input and buttons letting you choose between From/To/Subject/All. As an added bonus, you can also go beyond the local store and "Continue Search on Server..." on Exchange 2007 or later, MobileMe, or IMAP installations that support it.
Much like Mac OS 10.5 Leopard, Apple has expanded "data detectors" in iPhone 3.0 as well. While previous iPhone version would identify phone numbers and link them to the Phone App (just as web and email addresses link to Safari and Mail respectively), now 3.0 will try to identify address location to link to Google Maps as well.
As mentioned in the section on Settings, if you choose to enable it, Safari will AutoFill form fields based on your Contact info, or the Contact info of your choosing. As a separate option, passwords you've previously entered as well.
Also mentioned in Settings, Safari will try to protect you from Phishing sites if you enable it, presumably consulting an continuously updated blacklist of sites, presumably the same as recently implemented on the desktop Safari 4 Beta.
In addition, when you go to a site with an enhanced security certificate, the text on top of the browser turns green (like the green bar, we get it!), with little green lock icon beside it, and the name of the certificate's trusted organization. For example, the below screenshots show how Apple's order status page looks on iPhone 2.2.1 (top right) and iPhone 3.0.
What does this mean for users? In an age of increased phishing attacks, where bad sites try to trick you into thinking they're your bank or shop and steak your login or credit card info, this is one more visual cue in your assessment process for determining if you can trust that the website is what it says it is.
Updates to Safari don't end there, however, as Apple has also (yes!) given us the option now to open links in new pages (the iPhone equivalent of tabs). Tap and hold on a link, and a menu pops up with the link path listed on top, and the option to Open the link (in the current page), Open in a New Page, or Copy to the clip board. As this is the same gesture used to allow Image Save in iPhone 2.0, if the link happens to be a picture, Image Save is rolled right into the same menu as a an additional option.
(This is also a handy way to check which URL exactly is behind a link before you click on it)
The big news, however, is that Mobile Safari gets the Cut, Copy, and Paste love from Apple as well, although it works a little differently here than it does in Mail or Notes.
Perhaps because double-tap is already used for zooming, in Safari you hold your finger down on some text (as you would in other apps to trigger the magnifying loupe) and the entire paragraph of text is selected (everything within the P, and perhaps DIV and other similar containers).
Sites that don't properly format (i.e., use several BR, or line-break tags to simulate paragraphs) are now exposed for their shenanigans by confusing the Copy mechanic, resulting in entire reams, or even pages of text being selected. (For shame!)
The blue dot handles at the top/beginning and bottom/end of the selection are used in Safari, but if you drag them enough, the whole block will become selected and you'll get blue dots centered on all sides, and they can be pulled up or down to select previous or following blocks respectively. Again, lack of proper HTML formatting can reduce the reliability (so coders, fix your stuff!)
Both text and/or images can be selected.
Paste works in form fields the same way it does in Notes and other apps.
New in iPhone 3.0, the formerly useless Repeat and Shuffle Option for when listening to a podcast has been replaced with an email icon on the left hand side, and a speed counter on the right hand side.
The email icon allows you to send an iTunes Link for the podcast (similar to how you could previously email YouTube video links).
The speed indicator on the other side shows x1 during regular playback, and we presume it might show x2 etc. as Apple has previously allowed you to “speed up” talk-heavy content like Audio Books.
Where the Genius button would be on music tracks, we now have a circular backwards arrow with a 30 in the middle, which allows you to jump back in 30 second intervals.
Variable media scrubbing now lets you put your finger on the position indicator at the top, and the buttons change to a text message reading “Slide your finger down to adjust the scrubbing rate.” Do so and the speed that you scrub though the file changes. Displayed in place of the track info, options so far include half speed, quarter speed, and a fine grain speed.
While these controls would also be much appreciated in video, right now implementation is not there. Movies and TV shows have the same Done and Full/Fit to Screen controls as previous OS, as do video podcasts in landscape view. In portrait view, video podcasts gain the mail link and media scrubber, but retain the shuffle control.
Spotlight search comes to the iPod app. Just like Mail, scroll up in any list-view (like Podcasts, Playlists, Songs, etc. and the search bar appears. Results populate as you type, and if you hit the blue Search button, the keyboard slides down and you can see all results organized by category.
As mentioned in the Settings section, Shake to Shuffle is also now available in the iPod app. Just remember, if you enable it and then start to dance with your iPhone, your music might jump around with you...
Another major check-box finally checked is support for Stereo Bluetooth. Paired to an A2DP device (similar to current blue tooth phone headset pairing), a Bluetooth icon appears to the right of the volume slider, and an Audio Source selector will let you choose from available devices.
(Note: this seems to work in apps like Pandora as well, bonus screen shot included below!)
Game Center (Preview)
Game Center is Apple's new social gaming network (think Xbox Live or Play Station Network) complete with invitations, matchmaking, leaderboards,
This is not a review -- our full rundown of the pros and cons will come soon -- so our conclusion only goes so far as to say that, after going through everything above, anyone who claims iPhone 3.0 is really more fittingly iPhone 2.3 deserves a swift kick in the apps. This is a hefty release and we're again impressed not only by Apple's continuing ability to evolve the iPhone platform and provide software updates (again, free of charge to iPhone users, $9.95 to non-subscription accounted iPod touch users), but for the easy and consistent way in which they're doing it.
Kudos to the iPhone team at Apple. Can't wait for 4.0!
[Thanks to everyone who contributed screenshots and descriptions for this walkthrough. If you noticed we missed anything, drop us a note in the comments and we'll update as needed.]