Reviewed: iPhone OS 3.0

18 Jun 2009

Apple fans were almost as excited about yesterday’s release of the iPhone OS 3.0 as they are about the forthcoming 3G S handset, and with good reason – a few seemingly small changes has left the 3G (and indeed the iPhone) handset feeling like a whole new phone.

The first and most obvious thing you’ll notice about the OS 3.0 upgrade is a new application sitting on the home screen. This is the Voice Memos, and as the name suggests, you can record memos, conversations and other audio from the built-in microphone on the iPhone or through an external microphone.

The sound is decent enough and seems like a handy way to record voice notes at meetings, which you can then share by emailing.

The audio is stored in order of date recorded, and using a slider bar you can carry out basic editing by trimming the length of the recording.

The next, and arguably coolest, update to the OS 3.0 is the omnipresence of Apple’s Spotlight Search. This really is an indispensable feature and will search across your contacts, apps, songs, podcasts, audiobooks, notes, mail sent and received, and calendar, all organised into neat groups.

Spotlight is also embedded inside your mail, iTunes and contacts. After a short while, you’ll wonder what you did before you had it.

And what was most of the hype about? Copy, cut and paste! Forgive me for sounding like an Apple fangirl, but this is great functionality and gladly welcomed. On the other hand, where was this when the iPhone first came out?

It’s pretty easy to use and intuitive. You simply hold down your finger on or near the word(s) you wish to copy and a blue frame with the ability to scale in size appears. This is where you ‘catch’ your text and choose to cut or paste it. Holding down your finger on another space will give the option to paste this text.

This, along with landscape mode and the promise of MMS at some point soon, does change the nature of texting on the iPhone. Several people have told me they love the iPhone as a smartphone, but that as a mobile phone it sucks. I’ve put this down to two things – the lack of forwarding and MMS for text messaging, as well as the phone functionality itself.

Let me tell you, it’s not ideal to have to enter your address book to ferret out someone to call. I would prefer to type into the alphanumeric keypad and have them pop up – it is almost as though the phone and the address book are completely unlinked. The search bar should also be omnipresent as you scroll through contacts, but that’s another day’s work.

One slightly overlooked addition to the iPhone OS 3.0 is Stereo Bluetooth, which should make chatting on your Bluetooth headset a little better.

For my part, I am looking forward to trying out the Find My iPhone feature, and hope that I never have to use the Remote Wipe, However, as this is for MobileMe subscribers, until I sign up, I won’t know. The basic premise though is that you can remotely ask your iPhone to issue a sound alert if it is mislaid and on silent, and should you find that it is stolen or permanently lost, you can completely wipe all personal data through your MobileMe account.

Notes also got a little boost in this OS update with syncing to the PC and Mac, and there are parental controls added, so should you want to give an iPhone to your kids and make sure they’re not downloading inappropriate apps, video or music, this is your answer. (My answer is don’t give kids such an expensive, high-tech handset, keep it for yourself!)

Music-wise, the iPod has been given a little oomph with the iPod nano’s ‘shake to shuffle’ feature; handy if you don’t want to be bothered with actually touching your iPhone when you get sick of the current song.

Apart from this, you can log onto your iTunes Store account for settings and also log onto YouTube, so that videos you have watched, favourited and shared from the iPhone are in sync with your main account.

Okay, so there are other exciting features on the new iPhone OS 3.0 such as MMS and tethering, but these are not available on the O2 Ireland network yet. A spokesperson for O2 said that MMS will be available soon, and as for tethering, the company is in talks with Apple to make this happen.

The iPhone OS 3.0 update is available free, and once you upgrade to iTunes 8.2 and connect your iPhone, you will be given the option to upgrade your handset.

By Marie Boran