Instant Expert: Secrets & Features of iPhone OS 3.0
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iPhone OS 3.0 also brings a number of enhancements to the Safari browsing experience, with general speed and performance being the most noticeable improvements, as well as a few other new features.
An AutoFill feature is now available in Safari to automatically fill in web pages with information such as user and password logins and contact info. Safari will prompt the user when it detects AutoFill information that can be saved for future logins, and then automatically fill that information in when revisiting the page. An AutoFill button also appears on text entry screens in Safari to manually trigger the AutoFill process.
AutoFill settings can be adjusted from the Safari section in the iPhone or iPod touch Settings app. From here, you can choose to use AutoFill for contact info and/or names and passwords, and choose which address book entry you would like to use for your contact info.
Open in New Window
Tapping and holding a link in Safari will now provide the option to open that link in a new browser window, in addition to the options for copying the link to the clipboard or opening it normally.
Access to Location Information
iPhone OS 3.0 will now allow web-based applications to access the location services on your device to help provide relevant location-based information. Although Google demonstrated this a couple of weeks ago with their Google Latitude web app, there are not yet any iPhone web apps publicly available to take advantage of this. Presumably, Safari will prompt users for permission before using location information in the same way that the iPhone presently does for other applications.
Mail, Contacts, Calendars
In addition to the search features, widescreen view and landscape keyboard support that we discussed earlier in Mail and Contacts, iPhone OS 3.0 provides a few other changes in the mail, contacts, and calendar applications.
Disable Loading of Images in Mail
Other than landscape keyboard support and searching, the Mail app itself is largely unchanged from the prior iPhone OS release. A new Mail settings option, however, found under Mail, Contacts, Calendars in the Settings application, allows you to disable the loading of remote images in HTML e-mail messages.
When this setting is turned off, external images linked in e-mail messages will not be displayed when reading the message in the Mail app. Note that Mail does not provide any means to load these images on-the-fly—you must go back to Settings and re-enable the options to see the images in an e-mail message.
Fetch New Mail Settings
While nothing has changed in the push e-mail settings options, these have been moved from the top level in the Settings application to a sub-menu under the Mail, Contacts, Calendars section.
Quote Specific Text for Replying/Forwarding
If you select specific text in an e-mail message before selecting the reply or forward options, only that specific text will be quoted in the reply or forwarded e-mail message. This works for both plain text and rich-text e-mail messages, and can even be used to include specific images.
Contacts can now be shared via e-mail or MMS from within the Contacts or Phone apps. A “Share Contact” button appears when viewing a specific contact record, allowing the displayed contact to be send out via e-mail or MMS (if enabled) as a vCard file attachment.
Importing of vCard attachments into your contact list works in much the same manner as it did in previous iPhone OS versions, although it’s worth noting that vCards can now be received via MMS and imported directly from the Messages app.
Address Book and Calendar Subscriptions
Users can now set up links to external LDAP address books, CalDAV calendars and subscribed iCal (.ics) calendars directly from the iPhone or iPod touch. These are added by selecting “Other” from the “Add Account…” option in the Mail, Contacts, Calendars settings.
Multiple Calendars and Address Books
iPhone OS 3.0 now supports multiple distinct calendar and address book sources, and separates these out within the Contact and Calendar applications. Calendars and Contacts can be synchronized from MobileMe, Exchange and from a local data source via iTunes, and you can subscribe to LDAP address books and CalDAV or iCal calendars, as noted above. Each address book or calendar source is listed separately within the Contact and Calendar applications.
Further, since iPhone OS 3.0 stores each set of calendar and contact data separately, deleting a contact/calendar source or configuring a new one no longer erases any of the data from the other sources. Further, when disabling a calendar or contact source for an existing MobileMe or Exchange account, you’re given the option to keep the data or remove it from your device.
Note that you can still only have one of each type of data source. You are still limited to one Exchange account, and only one MobileMe account can configured for calendar and contact syncing, although secondary MobileMe accounts can still be created for Mail only.
Users with more than one contact source can choose their default from the Mail, Contacts, Calendars settings to be used by default. You will also be prompted for which contact store you want to use when importing SIM contacts or vCard files.
Exchange Meeting Requests
Expanding upon the Microsoft Exchange support introduced in last year’s iPhone OS 2.0 release, iPhone OS 3.0 has added the ability to schedule appointments from within the Calendar app and invite other attendees. Creating a new appointment while viewing your Microsoft Exchange calendar now provides an Invitation field that can be filled in to send invitations to other attendees, as well as an Availability field to set your status for the new appointment to Busy, Free, Tentative or Out of Office.
When entering attendees, your on-device contacts and your Exchange Global Address List on the server are searched for name completion as you type.
Find My iPhone (or iPod touch)
iPhone OS 3.0 introduces a new feature for MobileMe subscribers that has been mostly limited to corporate smartphone users in the past—the ability to locate and/or remotely erase your iPhone or iPod touch device.
If you’re a MobileMe user, you can enable the “Find my iPhone” or “Find my iPod touch” feature on your device simply by toggling it on under your MobileMe account settings, found in Mail, Contacts, Calendars under the Settings application.
Once enabled, simply log on to your MobileMe Account page with your browser of choice and select the “Find My iPhone” tab from the left-hand menu. The last known location of your iPhone or iPod touch will be shown on an active Google Map applet which can be zoomed and panned like any other Google Map page. Satellite and Hybrid views are also available from here.
From here, you can send a request for the device to update its location, display a message and optionally play a sound on the device, or send a command to remotely wipe the device entirely. These options only work, of course, if your device is still connected to the Internet.
The Display a Message option will bring up another window in which you can enter a message you would like displayed on the device screen and optionally play a sound for two minutes. Your display message will appear as a pop-up message in the same way as new text messages and push notifications are shown, and if requested, the sound will play regardless of whether the ringer is turned off or not.
The Remote Wipe command will permanently delete all of the data on your device, returning it to factory settings. This option performs a secure erase in the same manner as the “Erase All Content and Settings” option does in the device’s setting app, so you can be assured that your data will be gone for good, but also that the device will be rendered inaccessible for at least a couple of hours while the secure wipe completes.
Although the feature is called “Find my iPhone” it works on iPod touch devices as well, but will be of more limited usefulness due the Wi-Fi only Internet connection.
Phone (iPhone only)
The Phone app in iPhone OS 3.0 remains mostly the same as in prior versions, although there are a few small changes.
The recent calls listing now includes additional text for each entry, displaying an icon indicating whether the call was outgoing or incoming and the specific phone number from which the call was received for existing contacts (ie, mobile/work/home/etc) or the general geographic location for non-contact numbers.
Call history is now more clearly broken down within recent call records, particularly those which represent more than a single call. In addition to the date and time, the duration of the call is displayed, and incoming and outgoing calls are displayed separately for multiple-call records.
As an added bonus, contact records can now be edited directly from the Favorites or Recent views - an “Edit” button appears prominently in the top-right corner when viewing a contact record, allowing it to be edited in the same way as it would be from the normal Contacts listing. Previous iPhone versions did not allow editing from these views, requiring the user to locate the contact within the actual Contacts application if they wanted to update or change any information.
Except for the addition of the in-app search bar at the top and support for landscape mode, the Notes app on the iPhone and iPod touch remains largely identical to the version found back in iPhone OS 1.0. One significant improvement, however, is that Notes can now be synchronized with your computer via iTunes. The setting for this can be found within iTunes 8.2 on the “Info” tab; there are no specific settings for Notes on the device itself.
Notes synchronize with Apple Mail for Mac users and Microsoft Outlook for Windows users. Mac users require OS X 10.5.7 to enable Notes sync, while Windows users need Outlook 2003 or later installed on their computers. As highlighted in our review of iTunes 8.2, the ability to select alternate sources for Notes sync in iTunes 8.2 for Windows implies that other sync sources may be coming in the future.
Notes can only be synced via iTunes over a USB connection—there is presently no wireless sync option for Notes, despite the fact that these may be stored on the server side by Apple Mail or Microsoft Outlook.
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