iOS 4 (previously iPhone OS 4.0) continues Apple's relentless yearly mobile OS update cycle. If 2007 was the mainstreaming of the multitouch user interface, 2008 all about the App Store, and 2009 was filling in the feature list, then iOS 4 promises to be... well, that's why we're here.
(And yes, iOS. That's the new name Apple has licensed from trademark-holders Cisco to represent the iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch -- and maybe soon the Apple TV and who knows what else -- family.)
Back on April 8 at the sneak preview event, Apple promised 7 "tent-pole" features and 100+ general user features overall, along with 1500 major new API for developers. We're going to walk you through the ones that matter most.
Note: iOS 4.1 is now available. See our complete iOS 4.1 walkthrough for the latest on Game Center, HDR photography, Ping social music network, and the other new features.
See also our iPhone 4 review for more on hardware specific features.
iOS 4 in 10 minutes: video quick-start guide
If you don't have time (yet) to read this massive iOS 4 walkthrough and are eager to get the basics down now, here's a quick 10 minute video guide to get your started.
We're showing it off on an iPhone 3GS, which should be similar to how it will work on an iPod touch G3. If you're using the iPhone 3G or iPod touch 2G you won't get the multitasking and wallpapers. You'll blame Apple. Apple will blame the hardware. The hardware will try to frustrate you into upgrading to an iPhone 4. You've been warned.
Note: If you haven't updated yet, save yourself some time and potential hassles and go read our getting ready for iOS 4 post first first. Then once you're good to go, sit back, relax, and hit play on the video below.
What Hasn't Changed
As always, we'll start off by telling you what hasn't change so we can clear the deck for what has. For more information on any functionality that's pretty much identical to past versions, check out our previous walkthroughs:
And here's a quick list of the unchanged apps in iOS 4:
- Stocks: Similarly, Stocks got landscape and a slew of swipe-able data last time, so the update love gets skipped this time.
- Weather: Almost comedically at this point, it's still unchanged from iPhone 1.0. Still no HTC TouchFlo 3D style animations, no landscape mode with more/different information. Not even a Calendar-style icon update to show current local weather. Nada.
- Voice Memo: Introduced in iPhone 3.0, it looks pretty much the same in iOS 4.
- Clock: With nothing but a lap feature added last time, we lose the "but" and keep the "nothing" for iOS 4.
- Calculator: Upgraded back in 2.0 for landscape scientific mode, all Calculator gets this time is a slight icon tweak towards the red.
(We're not counting getting a resolution bump for iPhone 4 Retina Display as a functional change.)
Spell check, which debuted in iOS 3.2 for iPad, is a system-wide addition to iOS 4 now as well. Words the OS thinks you've misspelled will be underlined in red (familiar to any Microsoft Office or Mac OS X user). Tapping on them will give you a popup containing a recommended replacement. Tapping the popup replaces the misspelled word with the (hopefully!) correctly spelled one.(opens in new tab) (opens in new tab)
Combined with the iPhone's existing -- and industry leading -- predictive auto-correct, it's a powerful combination.
Cut, copy, and paste also gets an iPad-debuting feature with "replace" now added to the popup options.(opens in new tab)
Additionally, if iOS 4 autocorrects a word and you immediately backspace, a popup will appear offering to replace the correction with the originally typed word.
We haven't found any specific documentation on this yet, and it doesn't seem to be listed as one of the options flying by on the on-screen suggestions, but per the comments below asking "what time is it" will now have VoiceControl speak the current time to you. It's possible other commands have been added as well. If you come across any, let us know.
iPod touch (and I believe iPhone) can now stay connected to Wi-Fi even when in sleep mode. This means background VoIP calls, push notifications, and other apps that require an active Wi-Fi connection can just keep working.
Instead of just hitting the globe key to cycle through languages on the virtual keyboard, you can now hold it down to get a popup showing all currently enabled international keyboards.(opens in new tab)
Bluetooth Keyboard Support
You're going to get tired of us saying "like the iPad" but remember when we told you spring's influx of iPad news would be important come summer's new iPhone news? You were warned for a reason. iPhone is getting iPad's Bluetooth keyboard support. Thank goodness for that.
Over-the-air Carrier Setting Updates
Based on reports from Rogers/Fido users in Canada, iOS 4 adds the ability for Carrier Setting Updates to be pushed out over-the-air (OTA) to iPhones and installed on-device. (In previous versions iTunes would handle the update and sync it over).(opens in new tab)
SpringBoard, the app behind the Home Screen gets an iOS 3.2 for iPad-style update to support custom wallpaper. Yes, the default background in iOS 4 is water drops on gray, which is not default but included in the iPad's wallpaper gallery. Also like iPad, the Mac OS X reflective Dock (buh-bye grid) and translucent top bar have been brought over.
(If you get a new iPhone 4, or do a clean install of iOS 4, you'll also note Clock, Compass, Calculator, and Voice Memos have been moved to a Utilities folder by default -- more on Folders later).(opens in new tab)
In addition to the iPad wallpapers, Apple has also introduced a few new ones, all seemingly focused on livening up the home screen without being too visually distracting. Natural textures and muted patterns get an obvious focus here with stones, rocks, and textiles front and center.
(See all of them in our iOS 4 wallpaper gallery)(opens in new tab)
In addition to previous status icons, the top bar will now show a north-east pointing arrow to alert you that location-based services (GPS) are being used. (So you'll see this in Maps and when using navigation, location-based social networks or games, etc.) An orientation lock icon will also show if you've enabled the widget to lock your screen in portrait mode (see below).(opens in new tab)
The color bands indicators across the top of the screen that highlight running voice or data connections (green for Phone, red for Voice Memo, blue for tethering) get expanded. Red now serves double-duty to indicate a VoIP app (like Skype) is active in the background.(opens in new tab)
How the SpringBoard has been once again extended to visualize new, core-level OS changes is where things get more interesting...
First, and strangely least, the Spotlight Home Screen introduced in iPhone 3.0 now gets to look beyond on-device data and reach for the clouds. Literally. Well, insomuch as the cloud here is Google and Wikipedia, which are very welcome additions. (Hopefully Twitter will be added in as well at some point). Tapping either will launch you into Mobile Safari and the appropriate search result page.(opens in new tab)
While Apple's built-in apps (like iPod, Mail, etc.) have had background multitasking since 1.0. four years, many gripes, and stiffer Google Android competition than later, background multitasking comes to App Store apps. (At least for iPhone 4 and last year's iPhone 3GS).
Why no iPhone 3G? Apple abjectly refuses to put their name on an implementation where hardware constrains software -- see video recording last year -- and that means iPhone 3G isn't up to their multitasking standards.
As to how it works, instead of a traditional "leave full apps running in the background" approach, Apple instead chose to implement a more restricted but, they felt, better performing and power friendly solution involving 7 specific background API (application programming interfaces.)
In addition to the existing push notification service from Apple's servers, which provide sound, badges, and alert popups for everything from IM to game challenges, iOS 4 adds local notifications so something like an alarm-clock app could register an alert that would sit in the iPhone in the background until the proper time, then activate. That takes the online server out of the equation which is good for tasks that don't need additional information from the cloud, and so don't have to activate the radios.(opens in new tab)
There's another API for task completion so that, for example, if you're uploading a picture to Twitter and leave the app, it can register a thread to keep uploading the picture in the background while you do something else. That means the entire app doesn't have to keep running, freeing up memory and lightening battery load, and even the thread will terminate when the upload is done.
Fast task switching and saved state
Fast task switching deals with the perceptive speed that multitasking offers. With previous versions of iOS, if you left an App Store app it would shut down completely. If you went back -- regardless if it was a second or a week or later -- it would usually restart not from where you left off but from the beginning. A few developers tried to add persistence on their own, saving your place when you came back as best as previous OS versions allowed, but most didn't -- especially games which was aggravating when phone calls pulled you unexpectedly out of them. Also, if you closed one app and went to another, you could theoretically be stuck swiping back or forth between 11 home screen pages.
Saved state is now built into iOS 4. If you switch out, Apps have their currents state saved to memory and if/when you go back, the app checks the memory save and resumes from that state. [Thanks Aaron]
To enable fast app switching, Apple's created a new UI mechanic. Now, when you double tap the home button, the screen turns translucent and slides up, allowing you to peek at the apps running "under the hood". (Technically frozen with state saved and threads registered with the background API).
Apps in the fast switcher UI are sorted in order of last usage. That means, if you're moving between a set of commonly used apps, they're most likely right next to each other and not screens and screens away. These two elements combine together to make launching apps perceptively much faster, even though the apps don't have to be running in the background consuming resources just for that convenience.
Positionally the fast task switcher apps take up the space traditionally reserved for the Dock, so while it's a tad confusing the concept of apps at the bottom of the screen being more permanent and easily accessible remains. Behaviorally, while they look like a secret dock, they function like the Home Screen itself in that you can swipe from right to left to scroll through a several 4-icon sets of multitasking apps.
Given even the iPhone 3GS has only 256MB of RAM, we assume Apple will discretely kill off the least-used app in the stack when things get tight. Whether or not that means the icon disappears from the multitasking UI we don't know, but worst case you just have to go to the home screen, re-launch it (hopefully from saved state) and all you notice is a slightly longer start up time. iPhone 4 is supposed to have 512MB of RAM which should allow for significantly more threads to run in background without slowdown or other problems.
iOS 4 helps users visualize what's going on when switching tasks by introducing a new, carousel-like animation. The new animation occurs when you switch between two apps either via the new, double-click-Home to trigger to launch the multitasking UI, or when one app calls another app (i.e. when you're in Contacts and you tap to send a contact an SMS).
Launching or leaving an app retains the same, zoom-based effect as always (though the wallpaper in iOS zooms slightly as well, like on the iPad).
Interlude: Task Killing
At the iOS 4 event, Steve Jobs likened task managers (in the multitasking, not to-do sense) to styluses -- if you need them there's something wrong. Initially this created confusion in iOS 4 when it was noted, if you hold your finger down on multitasking apps, they'd jiggle and bring up a delete icon that, if tapped, removed them.
It appears like there's a couple things going on. First, with built-in Apple apps, like Mail, if you "delete" it from the fast task switcher, you will still receive Mail (it doesn't kill the background thread that checks, sounds/vibrates, and updates the badge) but the app seems to do some sort of data cache refresh at times.
For App Store apps, if you "delete" them it does appear to force a reset when next you launch them, i.e. they won't resume from the previously saved state and their threads seem to be restarted. [Thanks Justin!]
Just like to the left of the main home screen is a special Spotlight screen, to the left of the fast app switcher is a special widget dock containing an software version of the iPad's hardware orientation lock control (though it currently only locks in portrait mode). More over, there are three circular controls to skip back, play/pause, or skip forward any music (including streaming music) -- and rewind or fast forward if you hold them down. Lastly, whichever app is currently playing the music, be it iPod, iTunes (streaming podcasts, for example), or an App Store app (like Pandora or Slacker) is shown at the right so you can jump back to it and access further controls.(opens in new tab)
The presentation may not be as visually slick as Palm webOS' Card view (which looks like iPhone Safari's Page view) or Mac OS X Expose mode, but it keeps tens of millions of existing iPhone and iPod touch users grounded in the interface they're familiar with and that's what Apple is prioritizing.
Note: Previously you could assign the double-click home button action to trigger Phone Favorites, Camera, or Spotlight. On iPhone 3G under iOS those options remain. On iPhone 3GS under iOS, in early betas you could double-click-and-hold the home button to trigger Phone Favorites, but this function doesn't appear to have survive to the final release. Hopefully something will replace it and soon.
Background music, location, and VoIP
Speaking of streaming music, perhaps most famously, Apple is allowing apps to register three specific types of the threads for persistent backgrounding (they can just keep running until you close them). Again, this isn't the whole app running, just one thread from the app, so the idea is it won't slow down performance, use up memory, or drain battery to the same degree. These API are for streaming music, location, and VoIP (voice over IP).
This means you can listen to Pandora, Slacker, etc. while surfing the web. Navigon, TeleNav,TomTom, etc. can keep using the GPS and alert you to directions while you're on the phone, and to further save resources, non-critical location apps like FourSquare, Gowalla, Loopt, etc. can be alerted when you change cell towers. Fring, Skype, Line2, etc. can answer calls and receive messages when you're not in the app, making them more equal telephony citizens.
What's still missing are background API for timeline updates, so that IM, Twitter, RSS, etc. could update like Mail does and have new messages ready and waiting when you return to the app. Also, there's no API to let internet sessions like SSH, RDP/VNC remain active when you exit an app making it more onerous for network administrators and others to manage remote machines. Hopefully these can be added in future revisions.
There are over 200,000 apps in the App Store and likely a ton more by the time I finish writing the sentence. Literally. iPhone 1.0 had one Home Screen but with only the built-in apps available back then, it wasn't even a limitation. With WebApps, it grew to 9 pages for a 148 app limit. With iPhone 3.0 we were given 11 pages, for 180 apps viewable, but you could eventually install many more and use Spotlight as a way of finding and launching them. Organizing them still wasn't a real option.
Enter Folders. A Folder is simply a grouped icon that holds up to 12 other icons inside it. (And for those keeping count at home, the new math means a whopping 2160 apps can be kept available at once. Shudder).
The way it works is you tap a Folder icon and once again the Home Screen fades and splits open, this time below the Folder. Inside the split are all the apps contained in the group.(opens in new tab)
To create a Folder, you begin by tapping and holding an icon to put it in jiggly mode, just like you did before to delete or move it. Then, drag it over and drop it on top of another icon to create a Folder. (This works better when icons aren't at the right edge of the screen, as the move behavior seems to supersede the Folder behavior, causing the icon to wrap to the next line before you can drop on top of it.) Once created, iOS reads the apps' category data and tries to name the folder for you, but you can easily edit it and change it to anything you want.
To remove apps from a Folder, put them in jiggly mode inside the Folder and drag them out (or just delete them if you don't want the app anymore at all). You can also move them around within the Folder to customize their order.(opens in new tab)
Folders can be put in jiggly mode and moved as well, but not deleted (they can only be deleted by removing all the apps from within them, and which point they self-destruct for you). You can even move them to the Dock, which means you could have 48 apps readily available at any time for quick launching.
And while you still can't delete Apple's built-in apps, you can take the ones you're not using and hide them away inside a folder so they waste as little Home Screen space as possible (as Apple now does by default with the Utilities folder mentioned previously).
Again, not as visually exciting perhaps as Mac OS X's Stacks, but it keeps current iPhone users in a familiar interface while adding much-needed functionality.
The ability to manage Folders has also been added to iTunes 9.2, mirroring the creation, editing, and removal features found on-device.(opens in new tab)
Messages in iOS 4 gets the same built-in Spotlight search that Mail and other apps got with iPhone 3.0. It appears at the top of the main messages screen. (There's no search within an individual Messages thread). [@justin_horn](opens in new tab)
Messages (finally) gets a character counter so you'll know when you're getting close to, or going past, the SMS limit (which would cause a second message to be sent). It kicks in after you've typed 50 characters or so. [@iMuggle](opens in new tab)
iOS 4 will now put an exclamation badge on the Messages app as a way to inform you when an SMS text or MMS multimedia message fails to send.(opens in new tab)
There's also a new API to allow in-app SMS for developers who want to include the functionality in their own apps. While this might be similar to the iPhone 3.0 embedded email option, and whether or not it will let users reply to SMS without leaving an app, it doesn't seem as elegant a solution as a global background messaging system.
Calendar removes two long-standing gripes and adds something pretty much invisible from the interface but awesome in terms of functionality.
First, you can now show all or hide all calendars or individually check/uncheck just the calendars you want to see.(opens in new tab)
Birthday calendars have also been added to the option, something that was previously only possible to see under certain setup conditions.(opens in new tab)
Lastly (and most excitingly), Apple has finally added Calendar access for developers. What this means is you may soon see apps where you can buy tickets for a local movie and have the show time automatically added to your Calendar.
Photos, at least for Mac users, gets the same iPhoto '09-based organizational features introduced with the iPad: Events, Faces, and Places.
If you have a Mac with iPhoto '09 and you've let it automatically file your photos by time stamp (Events), through facial-recognition algorithms (Faces), and via geo-location (Places). All these join the previous Albums view to form the bottom tab bar.(opens in new tab) (opens in new tab) (opens in new tab)
Landscape mode is also now supported in album and gallery views [@antonioj].(opens in new tab) (opens in new tab)
Previous betas included a Rotate function under the action button that would turn a photo 90 degrees, but this doesn't seem to have made it into the final. Hopefully it will return.
If you Email Photo, you now get the option of sending a small, medium, or large version (shrunken pixel dimensions and hence file size), or at actual size.(opens in new tab)
Lastly, developers have been given access to the photo and video library (not just the image picker as in previous OS versions).
Tap to focus, introduced in iPhone 3.0 for still photography, now gets expanded to video recording for the iPhone 3GS and iPhone 4.(opens in new tab)
Still photography maintains its leg up, however, via a new 5x digital zoom. When you tap the screen, a slider pops up allowing you to swipe to the right to increase magnification and swipe left to decrease.(opens in new tab) (opens in new tab) (opens in new tab)
With iPhone 4, there's an additional control to swap between the beefed up 5mp back-facing camera, and the all new front-facing VGA camera (if you want to take a self-portrait/profile picture). There's also an icon to show the new rear-mounted LED flash. This feature sounds like it's automatic for still but can be turned on and left on for night-time video shooting, but we'll have to wait and see when iPhone 4 ships.(opens in new tab)
Developers also get full access to and control of video playback and recording.
You can now watch YouTube videos in portrait mode if you really want to. They'll still default in landscape, so you may have to rock the accelerometer back and forth to get them to switch.
A minor tweak, but the current location/current direction button changes from the previous crosshairs to a north-east pointer to match the new location services icon used in the title bar. (No iOS 3.2 for iPad-style terrain mode, at least not yet).(opens in new tab)
For developers, overlays can now be added to embedded maps to show extra data like routes or annotations.
When you first enter notes it looks unchanged from previous versions of the iPhone OS. However, there is now an Accounts button at the top left of the list page and tapping it takes you to a new screen where you can choose to view All Notes, just the notes on your iPhone, or just the notes that are synced via IMAP to your email account(s). Yes, that means over the air (OTA) notes sync is finally here -- with the caveat that Exchange doesn't seem supported yet.
(UI-wise this is similar to how you back out/left in Calendar or Contacts to toggle data sources.)(opens in new tab)
The way these show up in Mac OS X is via the built-in Mail.app client in the Notes tab.(opens in new tab)
On Gmail they show up as a generic label. In other IMAP clients, regardless of OS, they'll show up as generic IMAP folders.(opens in new tab)
The iTunes store itself is the same, however, audio streaming from the app has taken a huge leap forward. Since iPhone OS 2.2 you've been able to tap the title of a podcast to begin streaming (rather than downloading) the audio, even in the background while using other apps, but it was sometimes hit or miss. It would drop out, it would time out, you couldn't really scrub through it, and if you left it for a while it would lose its place and start over.
In iOS 4 it's rock solid. You can scrub and it re-buffers and keeps playing flawlessly. You can stop it and come back hours or even days later -- even after using the iTunes app to search for other things or the iPod app to play different audio -- and it still knows where you left off and starts playing again instantly without missing a beat.(opens in new tab)
As mentioned previously in the multitasking section, when iTunes is using the background music streaming API (I'm assuming thats' what it's using) it gets the widget position in the fast task switcher interface, complete with widget controls.
This year, like every year, some of the more numerous and interesting changes Apple delivers in their new OS are tucked neatly away in the Settings app.
You can now choose to not only turn off 3G data or roaming data, but all cellular data.(opens in new tab)
General: Location Services
At the iOS event, Apple made a big deal about user privacy when it came to location (like a shot at Google). That manifests here with far more granular controls over which apps are allowed to access your location data (GPS, Wi-Fi mapping, and cell tower triangulation) and the aforementioned north-east pointing arrow that shows up when any app has used your location in the last 24 hours.(opens in new tab)
General: Spotlight Search
Since double clicking the home button is now a hard-wired to launch the fast-task switcher for iPhone 3GS and iPhone 4, the Home Button setting is gone and replaced by direct access to Spotlight Search preferences.(opens in new tab)
Since iPhone 3G won't be getting multitasking those options remain under iOS 4 for that device.
General: Passcode Lock
Previously available only through an Enterprise profile, iOS 4 brings stronger, alphanumeric passcodes to all iPhone users. That means you're no longer stuck with only a 4 digit pin, but can now create longer passcodes with far greater variation. Of course, longer, more varied passcodes are more of a hassle to remember and enter, but that's the cost of good security.(opens in new tab) (opens in new tab)
Mail, Contacts, Calendars
As previously mentioned, Notes will now sync over IMAP and the settings for that appear here. First, all the way at the bottom, you can choose which account to use as the default for note sync.(opens in new tab)
Inside MobileMe, Gmail, or other IMAP accounts, you can choose whether or not to enable sync. Again, there's no support for Exchange ActiveSync accounts yet (including Gmail via GoogleSync).(opens in new tab) (opens in new tab)
When you tap into the Safari's URL bar in iOS 4 and start typing, Safari starts to do a "keyword search", i.e. display predictive results based on your bookmarks and history. Anything that contains the text you're inputing either in the URL or history is listed below the URL field so the moment you see what you want you can just tap it and go.
This makes it easier to find something if you don't remember the exact web page address or if you know you recently saw a site, and know what it was about, but don't remember where exactly it was. Just start typing a few words you do remember and let Safari do the heavy lifting. Highly convenient and certainly "awesome". [To misappropriate the term from Mozilla (opens in new tab)](opens in new tab)
Also, welcome to iOS search options, Microsoft Bing.(opens in new tab)
Here's where you can turn on that new character count option.(opens in new tab)
The iPod app now has an overlay that shows you information about songs and podcasts. While functional it's not terribly attractive so it's nice to be able to toggle it off right here.(opens in new tab)
iPhone 2.0 brought us the iTunes App Store, iPhone 3.0 added in-app purchases, and now iOS raises the mercantile stakes once again with...
iAd will provide developers with an easy-as-Xcode way to place advertising in their apps, both paid and free. Apple is setting a high bar for their ads, however. No simple Google-style text, annoying punch-the-monkey, or jarring transition out of the app and into the browser, they claim to want great looking, highly interactive, emotionally compelling content that will connect with rather than alienate users. Served every 3 minutes. Yeah...
Functionally these are built in HTML5 (no Flash need apply) and seem to work as apps-within-apps. Tapping on a banner brings up a full-screen ad-as-webapp and examples shown included plenty of animated UI effects and content that ranged from videos to freebies like wallpaper, to free and paid apps you could download from within the ad (no trip to the App Store needed). An exit button is persistent at the top left so users can quit the add at any time.
Apple will be selling and serving the ads, so all we can do is hope they're unobtrusive and actually reach the quality levels presented. For paid apps that also try to include in-app iAds, that bar will rightly be very, very high.(opens in new tab) (opens in new tab) (opens in new tab) (opens in new tab) (opens in new tab) (opens in new tab)
Just like Mail can preview documents, Quick Look will allow developers to present the same functionality in their apps.
2000 hardware accelerated math APIs probably won't be seen by users, but there's not doubt we'll feel them in the games. Zoom. Zoom.
Again it looks like the iPhone is finally getting in iOS what the iPad got in 3.2 with the file/document transfer feature now exposed in iTunes sync.(opens in new tab)
Now all we need is an elegant way to share and wirelessly sync those documents across multiple devices and users. MobileMe 2.0, souped up iWork.com 2.0, where are you?
The biggest addition to the iOS 4 Phone app is iPhone 4 exclusive -- FaceTime. When connected to Wi-Fi and making a call to another iPhone 4 user, the Hold button gets replaced with a FaceTime video icon. (Where the hold option goes under these circumstances is as yet unknown.)
Tapping that initiates a FaceTime video call. During the FaceTime video call, the person you're calling fill the screen, your own camera input is boxed in the lower left corner (you can touch and drag it to move it around), and mute, hang up, and switch camera buttons line the bottom of the screen. (Switch camera toggles between the rear-facing and front-facing cameras on the iPhone 4).
Mail gets a unified inbox. Let's write that again -- Mail gets a unified inbox. For those with multiple email accounts whose previous iPhone experience involved tapping into and out of those boxes many, many times a day this is a hugely welcome addition.
As with Calendars, Notes, etc. you can tap a button on the top left, in this case Mailboxes, to back into a selection screen where you can then go into All Inboxes, a specific account's inbox (which is considered fast inbox switching), or into the complete folder and sub-folder system of a given account (how Mail has worked from iPhone 1.0 to iPhone 3.0).(opens in new tab)
Once inside, All Inboxes is visually indistinguishable from an account-specific inbox, it simply contains all of their messages.
What is distinguishable are the small carets (technically greater-than symbols) to the right of replies that indicate a message is part of a thread. A number, typically 2 or 3, accompanies the caret to indicate how many replies are in the thread.
Tapping on a message that's part of a thread doesn't take you to the message but rather to a second list-view, similar to the inbox itself, but containing only the messages from the thread. Tapping on one of them then takes you to the message. A thread view contains a small vertical bar at the top with the subject of the thread and time of the most recent reply. A button to the top left of the message that's part of the thread also contains the subject of the thread and lets you back out and see the thread again. The button then switches to contain the name of the inbox so you can back out again, leave the thread completely, and see all your messages.
So yes, the tap, tap, tap of inbox navigation persists, albeit shifted from moving into and out of inboxes to moving into and out of threaded messages.(opens in new tab) (opens in new tab)
Like iOS 3.2 for iPad, you'll be able to open email attachments in apps. Now there's no iWork (Numbers, Pages, Keynote) for iPhone yet, but plenty of apps should support it as they push out the iOS 4 compatible versions.
Great news for heavy ActiveSync users, iOS 4 supports multiple accounts. So, for example, you can now have your work Exchange server and home Google account both set up to push through ActiveSync (which is what Google Sync users behind the scenes) at the same time. Win. Win.
Also for Gmail users, the Delete button has no been properly renamed as Archive (since Google really doesn't want you deleting anything if they can possibly help it).(opens in new tab)
Lastly, in previous versions of the iPhone OS, when you wanted to abandon an email, you would hit Cancel and get options to Save (store the email in Drafts), Don't Save (trash the email), and Cancel (go back to writing the email). The naming of these options was likely too confusing so in iPhone OS they've been replaced with a big red Delete button (to trash the email), Save as Draft, and Cancel. And yes, you can still cancel a cancel. (iPad, by contrast, still has Save and Don't Save, but no Cancel since it's in a popover rather than full-screen menu and you can just tap away to cancel).(opens in new tab)
More iPad to iPhone cross-polination means we get search auto-complete in iOS. As you type, suggestions appear in a list view below. And as with the iPad, while Google and Yahoo! branding remain in the search boxes (along with Bing now as well), they no longer get brand advertising on the keyboard -- it simply remains labeled Search now regardless of which engine is set and default.(opens in new tab) (opens in new tab)
While HTML5 video would work under iPhone 3.1.3, it would launch the full screen QuickTime player to do so. Under iOS, it seems to play in-line as well [MobileGeekdom], like it does on the iPad.(opens in new tab)
When you have a song playing in the iPod app and you tap the album art, in addition to all the previous controls that popped up, you now get a dark overlay with white text giving you the info metadata of the song or podcast. This is another iPad bring-over, though not the most attractive one by a long shot. (Remember, it can be turned off in Settings).(opens in new tab)
Album art has been added to album views, jazzing up the track lists.(opens in new tab)
And in yet another iPad-like update, on-the-go playlists are dead, long live... just regular old playlists. You can add them via an item in the playlists list, at which point you get a popup that asks you for a name. Next, you tap on any songs you want to add, and when you're done, you have a new playlist. If you're not happy with it, or any playlist, just swipe to bring up the usual red Delete button and annihilate it.(opens in new tab) (opens in new tab) (opens in new tab)
When you sync contacts from more than one source (i.e. Exchange and MobileMe, on-device and Google Sync, etc.), and there are duplicates, rather than showing the same contact twice iOS 4 will instead create a single, linked contact. This works on any iOS 4 device, including iPhone 4, iPhone 3GS, recent iPod touch, etc.
If you look at a linked contact, the header will show Unified Info at the top so you know it's linked. At the very bottom of the contact it will show you the source of the links (i.e MobileMe, Google). Tapping on the source lets you see the original, non-unfied info from just that source.
If you don't like the idea of your contacts being linked, you can tap edit and hit Unlink. If iOS 4 missed linking a contact that ought be linked, tap edit, scroll down to the bottom, tap Link Contact and choose the contact you want linked.
Game Center (Preview)
Game Center is Apple's entry into the social gaming network space (think Xbox Live or Playstation Network for iOS devices). With Game Center you'll be able to invite friends to play, use matchmaking to challenge other players, gain achievements, and have your scores displayed on a leader board.
Game Center won't launch with iOS this summer, but is scheduled for release "later" this year.(opens in new tab) (opens in new tab) (opens in new tab) (opens in new tab) (opens in new tab)
Though not a built-in app (you'll need to go get it from the App Store when it becomes available), as part of iOS Apple announced they were bringing iBooks to the iPhone.
Apple has announced new features, including notes and bookmarks, and that those along with highlights will automatically be synced across all the iOS devices logged into your iTunes accounts. (So you can have the same book, at the same place, with the same annotations on your iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad).
Also, iBooks will be able to add PDFs to a second book shelf and open them in the same iBooks interface.(opens in new tab)
Due to the fracture and regionalism in books, it's going to take Apple a while to get deals in place with all publishers in all areas which means most countries won't have paid content at first, only public domain books from the Project Gutenberg library.
Apple really doesn't get enough credit for the outstanding accessibility features they build into their OS, both desktop and mobile. iOS 4 continues to lead the industry. VoiceOver supports 21 languages to read out loud whatever your finger touches on the screen, and a "rotor" gesture lets you temporarily change languages now on the fly.
Bluetooth support has been extended to more than 30 braille devices with tables for more than 25 languages.
Touch Typing lets you run your finger across the keyboard, hear the letter you're currently over, and release your finger to type it.
The basic rotor has been made visible so sighted users can see it in action, and you can now add custom settings to move through content.(opens in new tab) (opens in new tab)
iOS 4 pricing and availability
Apple has announced that iOS 4 will be coming to iPhone and iPod touch on June 21, and iPad later this fall. In a huge departure from previous years, Apple is also making it a free update to all users, iPhone and iPod touch alike. (If you have a compatible device, see directly below).(opens in new tab)
iOS 4 device compatibility
Before we begin it's important to note that not all iOS 4 features will be available for all iOS devices.
- iPhone 4 (2010): All features
- iPad (2010): Coming this fall
- iPhone 3GS and iPod touch G3 (2009): No features requiring iPhone 4-type hardware (i.e. FaceTime)
- iPhone 3G and iPod touch G2 (2008): No multitasking, custom wallpaper, and Bluetooth keyboard support.
- iPhone 2G and iPod touch G1 (2007): not compatible/no update
Yes, the original iPhone 2G and iPod touch G1 don't look to be getting iOS 4 at all -- Apple considers them outdated. Second generation iPhone 3G and iPod touch G2 are getting the update but no multitasking -- Apple doesn't consider them powerful enough (similar to video recording last year). And it should go without saying only iPhone 4 (and perhaps a forth generation iPod touch when it ships this fall) will be able to use hardware specific features like the Retina Display resolution or the front-facing camera.
Additionally, Apple's own iMovie for iPhone will only run on iPhone 4 -- apparently it needs the A4 chipset -- so there might be other apps that go 2010-only. Legacy, right?(opens in new tab)
Apple is again rounding out their offering with iOS 4, which is the sign of the maturity of the platform. Since they've stated several times now that they're using the iPhone to "educate" users about multitouch interfaces, they're going to continue keeping changes evolutionary for now, and the UI broadly consistent across devices. There won't be any huge, revolutionary changes again until they have to, and they don't have to yet. Restraint can be a virtue.
Some functionality is still not present, like non-interuptive notifications, widgets beyond the limited fast task switcher UI, wireless sync/sharing, less painful file round-tripping, etc. but Apple is no doubt working on this the way they worked on copy and paste and multitasking. The question is how and when, not if. After all, it's only 9 or 10 months until the iOS 5 sneak preview in spring 2011, right?
But this is not a review — our full rundown of the pros and cons will come after the official launch, when we've had a chance to spend some quality time with the final version on the new iPhone 4 hardware.
Congratulations to the iOS team at Apple, phenomenal work. Again.
[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.]
Rene Ritchie is one of the most respected Apple analysts in the business, reaching a combined audience of over 40 million readers a month. His YouTube channel, Vector, has over 90 thousand subscribers and 14 million views and his podcasts, including Debug, have been downloaded over 20 million times. He also regularly co-hosts MacBreak Weekly for the TWiT network and co-hosted CES Live! and Talk Mobile. Based in Montreal, Rene is a former director of product marketing, web developer, and graphic designer. He's authored several books and appeared on numerous television and radio segments to discuss Apple and the technology industry. When not working, he likes to cook, grapple, and spend time with his friends and family.
Question: if you receive a text while in an app and choose reply, does it do the "fast app switch" as if you were using the switcher, or the same exit app, launch messages, rinse/repeat as current?
Nobody has mentioned this before so I guess I have a good eye for UI. :P
I'm confused as to why they're not supporting custom wallpaper on 3G, as it easily handles custom wallpaper when jailbroken.
Oh well, the upgrade to iOS 4 will tide me over till I get an iPhone 4.
Can we change the appointment alarm from the "dying cricket" sound to something actually noticable?????
But nice walkthrough. What needs to be added or looked forward to in iOS 5? A global sms system, unobtrusive notifications, wifi hotspot, google nav or similar, more social integration (twitter, facebook), change settings on fly such as wifi, ichat or integrated sms/ichat. Personally, i wouldn't mind tweaks to the UI as that homebutton double tap is used up now.
As it is, a jailbreak is still necessary if you're an advanced user. Sbsettings, 3G Unrestrictor, SMS Quick reply, ifile and safari downloads, you tube downloader, MyWi, lock calendar to see calendar on lock screen, Music Controls if BT hasn't been fixed, safari tab closer...
That's still a lot of jailbreak functions or features. And i only listed my needs.
Looking ahead to the iOS update in fall (ipod time), i see game center and bug fixes.
Thanks for your clarification!
Why it matters: I sometimes travel internationally, and I like to use navigation apps that store the maps on the phone, so no data connection is required, which would cost too much. But when the old OS is put in Airplane Mode (to make sure nobody calls me, using expensive international minutes), the GPS gets turned off, too. I've been waiting for a way to turn everything off but the GPS. Hence my question.
look at the 3G iPhone.
@Nick: Your number 6 is incorrect. Reset keyboard dictionary was a previous option.
@Kyle - I don't see that group messaging option. Care to post a screenshot?
That image with the 3G is a mistake on Apple's part.
This is the first I've heard about being able to keep WiFi connected in while on standby...IS THIS TRUE?
I work in a place where there is zero AT&T reception, but WiFi coverage in 100% of the area.
Could I just get a skype landline number, stay connected to WiFi, and use my iPhone 4 at work through Skype?!
Agreed. I think this would be great, at least for Twitter and Facebook.
"Also, there no API to let internet sessions like SSH, RDP/VNC remain active when you exit an app making it more onerous for network administrators and others to manage remote machines. "
Ugh. I was hoping to be able to NOT have to quit my IRC app or SSH app just to check something in an email. :/
There is a video of Facetime on Engadget that shows you can drag around your own little thumbnail picture when using Facetime.
If you can't set it on the phone itself, will it honor it if it's set from the desktop?
Nobody has ever stated whether or not user-created images could be used as backgrounds on homescreens — only that Apple has some to choose from. If that's the case, fine. If not, then that's why I asked.
Actually the Apple website states
"Personalize your Home screen.
You can change the background wallpaper on both your Lock screen and your Home screen. Choose from a variety of backgrounds included with your iPhone or select any picture from your library. It’s a great way to make iPhone uniquely yours."
I believe I read your response where someone asked if you were in an app, and received a sms/mms does it do the fast app switch animation. I believe you answered yes to this, but my next question to that is does it put whatever app your in automatically into multitasking, or would that be to much to ask for.
Are there any changes in the calendar alerts? For example, being able to snooze them!! That's the most irritating thing about the i-devices.
You're stuck in two ways:
1) You're using the device and an alert pops up, giving you a choice of "Close" or "View Event", but no snooze!
2) The device is in sleep mode, the alert pops up, showing you 1 or many alerts, yet when you unlock the device, they VANISH!! How silly is that.
I really like my IPT, but Palm has this calendar and to-do biz nailed 15 years ago!
Seems that Apple hasn't changed the annoying SMS or MMS capabilities...
In 3.1.2 it's the same.
If I have the setting on SMS, then I can't receive MMS messages.
But if I have the setting on MMS, then people without MMS capabilities (simple phones) - can't receive the message.. Not to speak of the higher cost for MMS.
And I can't rename icons.
I can't remove all apps from inside a folder in just one option. I have to remove all, 1 at a time.
Apple's UI designers are so narrow minded.
So far the only app I have seen that has been updated to iOS4 is the dropbox app and when you get a SMS, it gives you the same close/reply options and when you choose reply it does the same damn thing! (takes you to the Messages app)
Can't wait for Monday, however my money says a lot of people won't get the update until later in the week (kind of like what happened with 3.0).
That's not actually how it works. That's the old way to do it, where the apps would constantly keep track of where you are so that next time they start they can put you back there.
Now, the apps don't remember where you are, or anything like that. It's not an automatic version of that either. Instead the app itself has its actual true state — in memory — copied someplace else, and then when you return to the app /execution continues/ from your pervious state. It's not the case that the app goes through a process of returning the user to where it thinks you were previously.
An analogy would be theis way is like the save-state feature from an emulator, compared to a save-game feature implemented inside of the game.
"Seems that Apple hasn’t changed the annoying SMS or MMS capabilities"
i don't see your problem:
the Messages app sends SMS by default, then if you add a picture to your message it switches over to being an MMS.
if you're sending to people you know have phones without MMS, don't send 'em pictures and you're fine.
On Photos, I'm not sure if the writer is aware (I can't tell from the article), but the extra options like Events, Faces and Places only appear if you've been using them, and as you use them. e.g. I don't use Faces, so I just get Events and Places at the bottom. Also, since the iPhone automatically geotags your photos, anything in your Camera Roll shows up in Places as if it had come from your Mac.
With Voice Control, this might be a bug, not a feature, but if asked, "What is the date?" or "What day is it?", it tells you the time, as if you'd asked, "What time is it?" Whether this means it can't distinguish between "day" and "time", or that these questions will soon be askable, I'm not sure.
@Mike, haven't found that yet.
@Ben, there are several different things you're asking. 1) If an app uses the in-app SMS API, there's no fast task switching, it just happens inside the app. 2) Whenever you're in one app (i.e. not in the home screen) and you switch to another app for any reason, you get the fast app switcher animation. 3) if an app has been updated for iOS 4, they'll save state and resume in the same place if you return; if they use VoIP, location, or streaming music, then that would keep going via the background API.
@Aaron, thanks, updated.
@WatersWest, when TomTom updates to iOS 4, they can keep getting GPS location and giving voice directions in the background, even if you hit home or start another app -- or answer the phone.
@Nick, awesome, huge thanks. Could the auto 3G/Wi-Fi connection be to ping Me.com for Find my iPhone users?
@Bshecko, not a chance. If they wrote the same thing, they no doubt used much better grammar and spelling than I did.
and you already can view lyrics in ipod.app using 3.x
As far as I know a few countries have got paid content in their respective iBookstore's. Not just the US, now.
This is due to their implementation of IMAP IDLE.
Open an email in Mail, then remove Mail from the task switcher. When you reopen Mail you'll find that it opens afresh at the inbox listing instead of returning to the email that had been previously opened. Other apps act similarly, so it seems safe to assume that it does act as a process killer.
Anyone know precisely what's going on?
(I'll update in the meantime to better reflect my current understanding).
At 2:55 in the iPhone 4 video ( http://www.apple.com/iphone/design/#design-video ), when zooming the girl's photo, notice how the fingers are moving slightly to the right while pinching out, and the zoomed area follows accordingly.
This subtle improvement is iPad-like (when zooming maps in the iPad promo video) and is not visible when I tried doing it with iOS 3.1, where no matter where you move your fingers while pinching out, the photo will only zoom the area at which you first placed your fingers.
The iPod app has supported "tap for lyrics" for quite a while now. What's new is that it now also displays Podcast info and can be turned off in the settings.
That said, the default iPhone ringtone (remix) music on the YouTube's is a bit overbearing.
Screen illustrations worked well with the text.
It is thus merely a convenience to allow going from task to task without having to visit the full Springboard first. But, if you wish, you can press Home once and launch your second app and it'll still come up in the same state as it would have if it had been launched from the Recents list.
Also, the more I use this feature, the more I think that the following is happening when deleting from the list. The deletion tells the OS to treat the app in the least-priority fashion, as though it were at the end of the Recents list. Thus, if it's an app that would normally clear from memory in a low-memory condition, that's what happens. If it's an app that remains backgrounded in some form even under low memory (one of Apple's own apps), the backgrounding remains. That is, the OS still decides, but deletion from the list tells the OS that you know longer care about the app. It's a subtle difference, but preserves the idea that the OS remains the sole arbiter of how to treat apps based on resources and priority of the app gauged by recent-ness or explict declaration of "don't care" by deleting from the list.
Currently, I wait to get back to my desk and delete the invite from within iCal :-(
Oddly enough spell-checking is not available in Danish. Mac OS X do have Danish spell-checking, so Apple do have the Danish dictionary at hand.
Spell-checking might be available in July for the launch of iPhone 4 in Denmark?
Another comment: As I understand the developer documentation, an application can alway risk to have its state deleted and start as normal - even on iPhone 4. I mean even with 512 MB RAM it is still a limited resource (as opposed to un-limited).
of new features and implementation of iOS 4.
I haven't found anything close to this detail on the web.
Great research, and work.
In calendar is it possibly to set an alarm for entries longer than 2 days in advance and can u snooze the alarm to 5mins later or 10mins etc?
There is no excuse for not having this feature and I'm surprised that essentially no tech reviewers/writers even mention it. Do a google search and all you find are people in the comments sections complaining about it being absent.
Nike+ is an app I use all of the time. Is there a new update with anything different or is Apple and Nike kind of abandoning this feature? Any info you know of?
Keep up the great podcast, and thank you.
thank you for your detailed reporting!
Thanks for your time..
Unfortunately there is a GREAT downside of upgrading my iPhone 3G to iOS 4 - the device is almost unresponsive now. Voice recorder launches for 12 seconds, SMS application about 10 seconds, Maps also around 10 seconds. After upgrade if I quit Safari, write a message and return to Safari I always see it reload my Page after 10 second delay (It means Safari was purged due to low-memory condition).
I cannot run several games now (they crash) until I switch Push Messaging off freeing some memory.
It is clear the 128MB memory of iPhone 3G is not enough for these new features. It's a pity, because I cannot boast my iPhone 3G to friends now. It's not cool at all that, if you use any application and you need to reply to a SMS you spend 30 seconds for that??? (3 seconds to type the message, 20 seconds waiting application launch and 7 seconds waiting to switch keyboard layout).
It seems to me the situation is the same as in Apple ads Mac OSX gets "faster and faster" with each update, until you compare your friend's with iBook G4 running Tiger and your Core 2 Duo MacBook Pro with Snow Leopard and you find that amazingly that ancient 5 year old machine does everything way faster! The secret is he did not update it. :)
Will it come for all Languages/ in all Countrys on 21th? Or does the Germans (and other Countrys) have to wait longer?
I already have version 3.1.3 3GS jailbreak iphone.If IOS4 appear,when i do the upgrade that i can do easily?can I see any error.Is the jailbreak still available or not?
1. I now have a Photo Library folder in addition to all my other folders--and it seems to have all my photos in it. Is this duplication?
2. Any existing photo I want to use as wallpaper shows up blurry--as if I were viewing it in low-res on an iPhone4. Except mine's a 3GS.
I'd like to see a phone that can literally reach for the clouds.
Also i'm a little upset that after all this time they still haven't added a feature in to the app store that will indicate if you've already purchased an app before you download it. Sometimes i'll delete an app because it sucks and then later i'll try to download it again to see if it's better. If I make a mistake and pick an app that I didn't buy before then I won't know until it's too late.
In Safari, screen orientation is no longer locked while typing. In previous OS releases, if you tapped a text box (for instance, the address box), whatever screen orientation you were in when you tapped it (be it portrait or landscape), you couldn't change it by turning the iPhone.
This was EXTREMELY irritating for me because I like looking at websites in portrait but I'm much more comfortable typing in landscape. I was very excited to see that Apple had fixed this frustrating function (or lack thereof).
I'm sure many people have discovered the same frustration so I'm sure people would be happy to hear about it!
This doesn't happen for me... Is it my 3GS or am I just doing something wrong. All notes syncs, with mail notes as well, but I don't see the Accounts button...
When connected to a Bluetooth device, you now have the ability to control the volume in iOS4. The volume slider is there and works. Previously, and still on my iPad, the name of the Bluetooth device would show up in the volume place without the ability to control the volume.
Sorry, no screenshot, forgot to take one when I was connected to my device at home.
I do want to point out: at least for me, if your gmail account is your "exchange/push" account, it will not have "archive" on it but still delete.
Also, there is a thing called "group messaging" on the messages settings now! :) What exactly is that function? I turned it on.
Anyone else with a 3G updated to iOS 4? And if so, did your response times slow down? If so, in which aps?
also i have no group messaging option or in page video still opens fs video. if anyone can comment on this it would be great
Is there any change to have meetings and templates to be shown on the lock screen.
Thanks in advance.
you need to do a reset network settings
settings >> general >> reset >> reset network settings
I had the same thing, massive battery drain and the phone running hot. This fixes it.
I've tried the map on google phone, theirs is perfect, pointing accurately on both map and satellite
Can you look into that, thanks.
signal problems may be solved...
I would to thank everyone involved in this great effort and keep it up :)
I think guys you'd better read this article "iOS4: Everything You Need to Know" located in ifunia iPhone column to get the details info about iOS before Multitasking.
After upgrading to iOS 4.0.0 and now iOS 4.0.2, my wife (3GS) and I (3G) have lost visual voicemail. AT&T informed me through mutliple conversations to try to fix it, that they are aware of the problem but have no idea why its happening. They stated that it is from the iOS4.0.x upgrade and is an Apple issue more than an AT&T issue. Has anyone else had this problem? Why isn't Tipb reporting anything about iOS4 on the 3G? It's horribly slow.
wipe out sorry 43
Try using two fingers and spinning them.
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Wow this is a really good phone! I'd love to learn more about it!