iPhone 3.0 – first impressions

So Apple have released the iPhone 3GS, and updated us poor souls with the 3G to version 3 of the operating system. I’ve had a few days to play around with it, and there some great features… and a few that seem to be “missing”!

First up: spotlight search
I found myself looking at my phone after the software update and thinking, “OK, so I’ve got this new operating system… I never read manuals… I wonder how I’ll find all the new features?” Well, I found spotlight by accident when I swiped the desktop left instead of right while it was on the default screen. There’s nothing much to see here really except a search box and a virtual keyboard. Type in the name of what you’re looking for and you get a list of items along with an icon telling you whether they’re contacts, music, pictures or e-mails. Not exactly revolutionary, but handy.

iPhone: Voice Memo RecorderVoice Recording
I wish this had been in from the start… then I wouldn’t have bought a 3rd party recording app! But now that it’s in it’s another thing that might prove handy. Sometimes it’s just easier to speak a memo rather than try and tap it out on the keyboard, and it’s good to be able to record, say, your children playing or music at a concert. The quality of recording seems pretty good, especially if you hold the mic fairly close like you would with a dictaphone. When the subject is quiet or far away there’s quite a hiss in the background which is, I assume, as a result of the iPhone trying to increase the gain on the recording.

The interface is nice and slick, and there’s an option to “share” your voice memos via MMS or e-mail. Be warned, however, that long files are not shareable in this way and will have to be downloaded from your phone via iTunes when you sync it with your computer.

One last thing is that I think the microphone is directional, so if it’s not pointing almost directly at you it may struggle to pick you up. I used it to record myself today but it was slightly behind and to the side of me… I wasn’t exactly speaking softly, but the recording is quiet. If you’re going to record yourself, make sure your phone is in front of you with the mic facing you.

Copy and PasteCopy ‘n’ Paste
Yes, yes, I know… ┬áthe “mighty iPhone” couldn’t even do copy and paste. Well, now it can so let’s move on with our lives :) The copy and paste is a bit odd because the iPhone uses a touch screen, but it turns out to be pretty intuitive. Previously you could hold your finger on the screen to see a magnified cursor. Now when you do that you get a little selection with dragable handles. Use the handles to select the text you want to copy and then press (wait for it) “copy”. To paste, hold your finger on a text area until you see the magnifier, then let go and a “paste” button will appear. Simple!

What else is there? There’s “shake to undo” which, unsurprisingly, means you shake the phone to undo your last action. The iPhone can now send and receive MMS texts, which means another 3rd party app is out the window. And the messages screen now rotates when you tip the phone on its side, giving you access to the wider keyboard (which suits my fat fingers better!)

But there are a few features that seem to be “missing” from the 3G upgrade for no other reason than to tempt me to buy a 3GS… Video, for instance. The 3G is more than capable of capturing very good quality video, as anyone who’s jailbroken their phone will tell you. So why is that only available on the 3GS? It’s not a hardware limitation, but a marketing decision. Voice control? If 3rd party developers can do it on the 3G, Apple can. Auto focus? I’m half willing to admit that there may be a hardware reason for this, but I’m not convinced. You can tap on the screen while taking a photo on the 3GS and the camera will focus on what you’ve tapped, but this feature is unavailable on the 3G. And I have no doubt that there are other things I’ve missed that could have been included in the OS upgrade but haven’t been.

Having said that, while there are some features that still tempt me to take the jailbreak route, the iPhone 3.0 upgrade has added some great new features and improved others. Ironically, there’s just enough there to mean that I’m not too tempted to get the 3GS until the proper time for my upgrade… not even for the promise of video.

Have you got an iPhone 3G or 3GS? What’s your favourite feature? And what do you think should have/could have been added? Let us know in the comments.

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