Instant Expert: Secrets & Features of iPhone OS 3.0
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Photos and Camera
For iPhone and iPhone 3G users, the Camera application remains unchanged from the previous iPhone OS, although new features are buried within the OS to provide support for new camera features in the iPhone 3G S. The only immediately noticeable change in the Camera app in iPhone 3.0 is a small thumbnail preview button in the bottom-left corner, which takes you to the camera roll in the Photos app. There appear to be small performance improvements in the application, as well.
The Photos app itself now adds support for selecting multiple photos from a given album to either delete from the device, share via e-mail or MMS (if enabled), or copy to the clipboard for pasting in another application. Note that the Delete option is available only in the Camera roll—photos synced via iTunes can only be shared or copied to the clipboard.
As elsewhere on the iPhone, the MMS option will only appear if MMS has been enabled by your carrier and is turned on in your iPhone’s Message Settings.
MobileMe subscribers can also send photos to any of their MobileMe albums. In previous iPhone OS versions, the Send to MobileMe option was simply a shortcut to submit the selected photo to your MobileMe album via e-mail as an attachment. This meant that your MobileMe album had to be configured to accept new photos via e-mail. Now in iPhone OS 3.0, the MobileMe submission process now provides direct uploads to any of your MobileMe albums, regardless of whether they are enabled for guest uploading or not, and submits your photos directly to the MobileMe service rather than relying on the Mail application.
Reports indicate that the iPhone 3G S may also allow for video clips to be submitted to MobileMe in a similar manner.
iPod and Media Playback
The iPhone OS 3.0 release also makes some small improvements to the iPod playback experience, adding some additional audiobook and podcast features and improving the scrubbing and navigation experience.
Audiobooks and Podcasts
New controls can now be found on the Now Playing screen when listening to audiobooks or podcasts. The normal Shuffle button is replaced by a variable-speed playback button allowing the user to select half-speed, normal speed, or double-speed playback, and the center button now provides the ability to immediately skip back 30 seconds.
Note that the audiobook playback speed option has been removed from the iPod Settings. The last selected playback speed on the Now Playing screen is retained as the default for all audiobooks until changed by the user.
When listening to or viewing podcasts, an e-mail envelope icon is now displayed at the top left corner of the Now Playing screen. Tapping on this will open the Mail application with a link to the current podcast so that you can share it with your friends via e-mail. Note that not all podcasts support this feature, as the URL must be embedded somewhere in the episode file for this to work. The envelope will be greyed out for those podcast episodes that do not support this.
One of the more frustrating experiences in prior versions of the iPhone OS when playing back long tracks, particularly movies, was the lack of precision with the touchscreen scrubbing controls. Happily, Apple has found a solution to this by allowing you to vary the speed of the scrubbing bar by moving your finger up or down while scrubbing.
To use variable-speed scrubbing, simply place your finger on the scrub slider as you normally would, and then drag down before dragging left or right. Dragging down slows down the scrubbing speed to allow for more precise selection, while dragging back up will scrub through the current track more quickly. The current speed is shown above the scrub bar, and ranges from Hi-Speed (the default) down through half-speed, quarter-speed and fine scrubbing.
Note that variable-speed scrubbing works for videos in both portrait and landscape mode, although the scrubbing speed will not be displayed when viewing videos in landscape mode.
Shake to Shuffle
With iPhone OS 3.0, the iPhone and iPod touch gain a feature that was introduced with the iPod nano 4G: Shake to Shuffle. Enabled by default, this allows you to engage Shuffle mode and switch to a new song when listening to music simply by shaking the iPhone or iPod touch. The option can be disable under the iPod Settings, found in the main Settings app.
Unlike the iPod nano, there are a few restrictions on this feature for the iPhone and the iPod touch: specifically, it will only work if you are currently playing music and either have the iPod application active or have the iPod controls active on the Home screen or lock screen.
iPod Library Access for Third-Party Apps
One important change under-the-hood in iPhone OS 3.0 is that third-party apps will now be allowed to access your iPod content. This will open the door for apps that allow you to play your own music, such as during certain types of games or for use as an alarm clock, particularly since the iPhone is still conspicuously missing the feature to wake to a playlist from its own built-in Clock application.
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