A guide to iOS 4

25 Jun 2010

Whether you’re waiting on the new iPhone 4 or you’re determined to stick it out with your current model, there are lots of new features to keep you busy and add a bit of extra oomph. Just don’t expect it to do anything for the first generation handset.

The iOS 4 update from Apple is the biggest OS update so far. There are over 100 hundred new features so beyond the obvious Folders, Multitasking and iBooks addition you’ll discover some useful additions, overhauls and updates as you make your way around the phone.

First we’ll look at the big ‘uns:


I thought this would be pretty boring and, well, blah but Folders has cleaned up my iPhone nicely. To create a folder you simply drag one app into another when you have it in ‘wobbly’ mode and iPhone will automatically suggest a category e.g. Business, Lifestyle, Music depending on what apps you’re trying to group together plus you can edit this and make you own folder names.

You can’t get more than 12 apps into one folder but this is plenty to clean up any app-clogged handset. When you touch a folder it pops out to reveal the apps inside, making the background screen semi-transparent.

Video and Camera

You can now zoom as you shoot and tap to focus on video.

There is now a 5x digital zoom (3Gs only, sorry folks) and tap to focus when you’re in video recording mode. The zoom is a pretty god feature but the tap to focus considerably improves the video experience. Not much to say except enjoy because this is as good as it gets without buying the new iPhone 4 or getting a smartphone with an LED flash.


iBooks on the iPhone iOS4

Yay, an eBook reader on the iPhone. Wait … aren’t there already loads of apps for that including the Kindle app? Well, yes, but this one is prettier.

If you look at the interface on the iBooks app versus the Amazon one the little virtual bookshelf makes it easier to browse through your collection and the layout of pages plus illustrations gives it an edge also. Plus it hooks up to your existing iTunes account (Kindle has you visit Amazon via the Safari browser) so there’s no excuses for not going straight to the iBooks Store and spending. Ahem.


Ho hum. Mail now allows you to mix in your various inboxes into one overarching ‘unified’ one. No big deal except I definitely didn’t want to mix my work mail with my personal Gmail. You can sort by conversation or threaded mail too but I already use this on the HTC Desire and Palm Pre Plus so I wasn’t blown away.

There is also the ability to open attachments in third party apps but I haven’t tried this out yet.

Aside from this, another small tweak is that the actual inbox of most recent messages is separated from the account details themselves, including folders, sent mail, junk etc. This gives the mail app a much more streamlined and neater look.

Oh, and now there is a character count when composing mail.

Wallpaper and icons

This is actually the most noticeable update to the new OS and something that I had been wanting for a while after having it on my original jail broken iPhone in the pre-App Store days.

It’s nice to have the choice of an image in the background behind your apps and it was because of this that I thought the screen looked sharper but it seems as though the iOS 4 has actually sharpened up many of the icons, freshening it up as it were.

The Calculator icon has been noticeably changed but the others are clearer, sharper and have more defined outlines and depth than those on the OS3. Meanwhile the dock has changed too – gone is the metallic finish and this has been replaced with a glass shelf that reflects the four main icons sitting upon it.


Notes, Mail and other apps now have spell check with a built-in dictionary. Handy but as you can see from the screenshot it is no replacement for atrociously bad spelling!


Other updates include wireless keyboard support, the ability to create custom playlists on your iPhone’s iPod app and Wi-Fi stays connected when in Sleep mode so apps requiring this kind of connection will keep on working.