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Inside iPhone 2.0: the new iPhone 3G Software

Software Improvements in iPhone 2.0

Let's start with a look at what has improved in the new iPhone 2.0 release. In addition to support for downloading new iPhone apps from iTunes or directly via the App Store icon as well as push email messaging, calendar and contacts from Apple's MobileMe and Microsoft Exchange Server (both of which we will be considering separately in their own segment), the new iPhone 2.0 also includes a few other system-wide niceties, and some of Apple's bundled apps are also spruced up:

Airplane Mode now allows you to independently turn WiFi back on while leaving mobile service off (below).

iPhone 3G

Calculator now offers scientific functions when held in landscape view (below).

iPhone 3G

Calendar now supports viewing and using multiple calendars, just like the desktop iCal. Previously, iTunes would aggregate all your iCal calendars together. Now you can view, edit, and create new events in a specific calendar, such as one designated for work, home, or school.

Camera now “geotags” your photos with longitude and latitude metadata tags so that other applications can determine where they were taken. While neither the iPhone nor iPhoto currently do much with this data (iPhone will only display the coordinates), Preview will show the GPS metadata along with a crosshairs on a world map. Clicking the Locate button pulls up the coordinates from Google Maps within a browser, as shown below. This photo overlooking Berkeley and the San Francisco Bay was taken from Tilden Park on Grizzly Peak Boulevard.

iPhone 3G

Contacts are available directly from a home page icon just as they are on the iPod touch, rather than only being buried inside the Phone app. You can also now search for contacts rather than only scrolling through the list to find what you're looking for, and look up contacts from an Exchange Global Address List. Under Settings, you can now set sort order and display order to “first, last” name or “last, first.” You can also import any contacts stored on your SIM card.

Keyboard displays a globe icon to toggle between configured languages (there's also now 20 keyboard layouts to choose from). There's also a touch input system for Chinese. Additionally, the “.com” key, used to quickly complete a web URL, can now be held down to bring up alternative top level domains, such as .edu, .net, or .org in Safari (below). In other apps, such as Mail, you can bring up a domain suffix by holding the period key down.

iPhone 3G

Mailnow has an edit button that allows you to select multiple messages for mass deletion or moving to a mailbox folder. You can also now read PowerPoint and iWork (Numbers, Keynote, and Pages) files attached to emails, in addition to the existing doc, xls, text, HTML, TIFF, JPEG, GIF, and PDF support. Microsoft's new Office formats pptx, docx, and xlsx are also now viewable. Graphic file attachments can now be sent to your photo album by touching and holding for a moment. If you forward a draft email, you lose any attached files on the draft email. However, you can now forward an email (including an email from your sent items) with multiple graphics attached; you will be prompted to include or not include the attachments in your forwarded message. This finally enables you some mechanism for sending out a pre-formatted email message with multiple attachments from your phone.

Maps, when displaying your location, now shows you a wide area map of the general area first, then zooms the location crosshairs in to a local view. This is great if you're in an unfamiliar area, where you'd otherwise have to manually zoom out first to get some idea of where in the surrounding area you currently are. The flip side is that the two part location process requires more maps to be downloaded, a problem if you are roaming internationally at great expense or if you're stuck outside of 3G or WiFi coverage and have to drag in your maps over EDGE or, god forbid, the even slower GPRS. While viewing a map, you can double tap with one finger to zoom in, and double tap with two fingers to zoom out. With an iPhone 3G, you of course get the more accurate GPS location, marked with a blue dot. If it can't determine a precise location, you get a light blue circle drawn around your dot indicating the relative margin of accuracy.

Safari now allows you to save images from web pages to the photo album by touching and holding the graphic. This brings up the option to Save Image (below). Double tap near the top or bottom of the page to scroll up or down a page at a time.

iPhone 3G

Screen capture: hold down the home button and touch the screen lock button and the display will flash, sending the captured shot to your photo album. Screen captured are not geotagged however.

On page 3 of 4: Software Flaws and Limitations .