Instant Expert: Secrets & Features of iPhone OS 3.0 | iLounge Article

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Instant Expert: Secrets & Features of iPhone OS 3.0

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iTunes Store and App Store

The on-device iTunes Store and App Store experience has now been expanded to provide access to purchase and rent video content from the iTunes Store directly on the device, including movies, TV shows, and music videos. It is also possible to sign in and out of different iTunes Store accounts directly on the device, rather than relying on a synchronization with iTunes, and to directly access your iTunes Store account and user profile.

Video Content

The iTunes Store and iPhone OS 3.0 now provide the ability to purchase and download video content directly on the device. All of the content that would normally be available on the iTunes Store from your computer can also be purchased and downloaded directly from the iTunes Store application on your device. Movies can also be rented directly on the device.

 

High-definition content is available for purchase from the iTunes Store app, however when purchasing high-definition content, only the standard-definition version is downloaded to the iPhone or iPod touch, with the high-definition version queued up for later download directly into iTunes on your computer. High-definition rentals are not available in the on-device iTunes Store.

 

As with music content, videos can be previewed directly on your device. Individual TV Show episodes are listed in a manner similar to album tracks, and can be previewed with a single-tap or you can read the episode description by double-tapping on it.

 

Handling of purchased and rented video content works pretty much the way you would expect. Downloads are placed in the appropriate locations within the iPod application on the iPhone or the Videos application on the iPod touch. Purchased video content will automatically be transferred back to iTunes on your computer during the next synchronization, and rented content can be moved to your computer manually using the normal options in iTunes.

A couple of caveats about on-device video purchasing, however: first, the download speeds at this point seem unreasonably slow, even for a slower 802.11b Wi-Fi connection, and second, there seems to be no way to ensure that downloaded content leaves a reasonable amount of free space on your device—it is easily possible to fill your device almost to capacity with a single downloaded item, so it’s always advisable to check available space before downloading any large movie from the iTunes Store. Packed iPods and iPhones can experience performance hiccups.

iTunes Store Account Access

Both the iTunes Store and App Store now provide the ability to access and change your current iTunes Store account from within the applications themselves. You can also access this from the “Store” menu found in the iPhone or iPod touch Settings application. From here you can either sign in with a different account, create a new account or view and modify your current account information.

 

It is even possible to set up a new iTunes Store account directly from the iPhone or iPod touch, effectively eliminating the need to synchronize your device with iTunes on your computer just to set up your iTunes Store account information. Mind you, the need to actually back up your purchased content means that you’ll likely still want to synchronize your device with your computer at least somewhat regularly for that purpose alone, unless all you’re doing is renting movies.

iTunes Store

In addition to music and videos, The iTunes Store app now provides access to Audiobooks and iTunes U content. Default buttons for Music, Videos, Podcasts and Search are shown at the bottom of the iTunes Store screen, with a “More” button on the right-hand side that provides additional options. As with the iPod application, tapping “Edit” from the More screen will allow you to reorganize the buttons on the navigation bar.

 

Album reviews are also now available within the iTunes Store on the device, and can be found at the top of each album’s track listing. Scrolling down to the bottom of an album listing will also provide an option to display more tracks by the selected artist.

 

App Store

Some additional tweaks to the App Store have also been made, including showing version-specific reviews for individual listings and displaying multiple, scrollable screenshots for applications.

 

A “Redeem” button has now been added to the App Store for redeeming iTunes gift codes. With the addition of this extra button, a “More” menu now appears in the right-most position on the bottom navigation menu. As with the iPod app, selecting the More button shows additional options, and provides the ability to change the buttons displayed on the navigation menu by tapping the “Edit” button in the top-right corner.

 

In-App Purchasing

One of the new features announced in iPhone OS 3.0 is the ability to developers to sell additional content such as game expansion packs or new features directly from within their applications. This In-App purchasing system follows rules similar to the App Store itself, but allows developers to more effectively sell enhanced versions of their applications without requiring separate App Store purchases. Note that only paid applications can make use of in-app purchasing.

Parental Controls

The iPhone OS 3.0 offers some enhanced parental control features, not only allowing certain features of the device itself to be locked down, but also restricting the types of content that may be purchased or played on the device.

 

In-app purchasing can be disabled, explicit music content restricted, and movies, TV shows and applications can be restricted by rating, or disabled entirely. Content that does not meet the restriction settings is hidden completely from view.

Miscellaneous App Changes

While most of the other built-in applications have not changed significantly in iPhone OS 3.0, there have been a few other small changes worth noting.

Stocks

The built-in stocks application now provides the ability to display detailed statistics for a selected stock as well as news headlines relating to the stock. These are displayed in the same section as the stock chart, and selected simply by swiping left to right in the stock chart area.

 

Turning your device sideways in the Stocks app will display the stock chart in a widescreen view. From here you can tap anywhere on the stock chart to see the exact price at that point, or use multi-touch to tap two different points to measure the change in a stock’s value between two dates.

 

YouTube

The YouTube app now allows you to sign in with your YouTube account, providing access to your YouTube profile, including favorites, subscriptions, playlists, history and your own uploaded videos. This carries over to and from your YouTube account on the web and therefore also integrates nicely with the YouTube feature on the Apple TV, which has provided YouTube account support since the beginning.

 

You can also now rate or comment on YouTube videos or flag them as inappropriate directly from within the YouTube app, and read comments from other YouTube users.

 

Favorites replaces the “Bookmarks” section in previous versions of the iPhone OS YouTube app, although you can still save videos locally if you are not signed in to a YouTube account. When you first log in to your YouTube account, you will be asked if you want to merge/add your local favorites to your online YouTube account.

 

Maps

Not much has changed for iPhone, iPhone 3G, and iPod touch users in the Maps application, although locating your current position when first opening Maps occurs much more quickly than in previous iPhone OS versions. From our testing, this would appear to be largely due to the blue location dot being placed on the map immediately based on initial Wi-Fi positioning and then updated as GPS coordinates are acquired. The result is the appearance of a much faster lock-on time, since a reasonable estimate of the current location is provided immediately and then refined as more accurate information is received. In previous OS versions, the iPhone did not display the blue dot until an actual GPS fix was obtained.

Other than this minor improvement, little has changed in the Maps application for iPhone users, however with iPhone OS 3.0, iPod touch users now gain the Google Maps enhancements such as Street View and transit directions that were previously excluded in the iPhone OS 2.2 update. iPhone 3G S users gain additional functionality, map rotation, through the addition of the device’s compass hardware.

What Hasn’t Really Changed

The Weather, Clock and Calculator apps seemingly remain completely unchanged from their prior iPhone OS versions. Other apps, such as Mail, Contacts, Notes and Calendar have minimal changes that we discussed above but otherwise maintain much the same basic features and UI as they did in prior iPhone OS versions.

The Stuff you Can’t Really See Yet—Changes for Developers

In addition to some of the changes we’ve discussed above, such as Push Notifications and iPod library access, iPhone 3.0 offers a number of other under-the-hood changes that we will likely see leveraged by various third-party application developers and accessory manufacturers in the coming weeks and months.

Dock Connector Access

For the first time since the initial release of the iPhone, accessory manufacturers and software developers will now be able to write applications to interface with hardware accessories via the iPhone and iPod Dock Connector. This was previously off-limits to application developers, limiting the viability of many potential iPhone and iPod touch accessories. The ability to now develop software applications that can interface with these accessories will open the door to many new and interesting applications.

One important point to keep in mind, however, is that the lack of any background capabilities or low-level driver access in the iPhone OS means that we’re unlikely to see accessories that would be usable on a system-wide basis. An external USB or Bluetooth keyboard, for instance, could easily be developed to work with specific applications, but there would be no way to develop a standardized external keyboard solution that would work throughout the entire iPhone OS without Apple’s direct involvement in placing support for it directly into the iPhone OS.

This makes this support something of a mixed blessing for potential accessories such as game controllers as well: unless a major accessory maker steps up and tries to produce a standard interface, there is a very real danger of multiple game controller accessories that each only work with specific applications, making the whole exercise rather pointless in the longer term. We are extremely concerned about the proliferation of multiple, incompatible accessories in the absence of a clear standard.

Embedded Google Maps and Turn-by-Turn Directions

Third-party applications will now be able to call upon the Google Maps capabilities to embed and display maps within their own applications, rather than having to rely on other mapping-related services. Further, while Apple will not be providing any turn-by-turn direction capabilities within the built-in Maps app, third-party developers are now permitted to not only develop turn-by-turn apps, but to use the embedded Google Maps capabilities to help facilitate this. At least two major GPS vendors are already reportedly working on iPhone navigation apps, using their own maps and data.

Performance

Considering the number of new features added and what is going on under the hood, the general performance of iPhone OS 3.0 is quite impressive. While not blazingly fast, it certainly does not appear to be any slower than iPhone OS 2.x, and in some respects actually performs a bit faster.

The most significant change we’ve noticed in performance is in browsing-related apps. Safari is the most obvious example, but even opening rich-text HTML messages in the Mail application performs much faster than previous iPhone OS versions did. The WebKit rendering engine has reportedly undergone a significant update in 3.0, which likely accounts for these performance increases. Ironically, the noticeable improvement in areas like rendering web pages can make the other aspects of Safari, such as switching tabs or pulling up bookmarks seem slower by comparison, even though these other tasks don’t actually perform any differently from our own testing.

Update or Wait?

If you’re an iPhone owner, the free pricing and sheer number of features in the iPhone 3.0 OS update make this decision an easy one. In terms of stability, the iPhone OS 3.0 has been through more testing than most other Apple software updates ever get, with a horde of iPhone developers putting it through its paces for the past three months. While no software update is ever completely bug-free, the iPhone OS 3.0 doesn’t show any significant stability or performance problems that would justify waiting to upgrade.

iPod touch users have a slightly tougher decision to make, since this is not a free update, and some of the features mentioned above are iPhone-specific. Our buying advice for the iPod touch upgrade is discussed in our review of iPhone OS 3.0; it receives a flat B recommendation for iPod touch users, and a B+ recommendation for iPhone users.

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Comments

1

“There is a downside, however: the search only includes message headers; a full-text search of message content is not performed, either locally on your device or on the server. “

Other reviews (such as on Ars) have specifically shown that it did include emails with the results in the body (when choosing the “All” search in email.

So what’s the deal; does it search message bodies or not?  Just from the screenshots on the Ars review alone it seems clear it did, as it included search results where the search term was not in the headers.

Posted by TomHandy on June 17, 2009 at 3:15 PM (CDT)

2

Great guide! I found something I thought I would share: when trying to select 6 pictures or more on my iPod disabled the email button; this may be to keep the size down or something. However, you can always just select as many as you want and copy and paste them into a new email.

Posted by mikeman118 on June 17, 2009 at 3:20 PM (CDT)

3

#1: It definitely does not search full message content, either locally or on the server. This is easily tested just by pulling up an e-mail, picking an obscure word that wouldn’t otherwise appear and then searching on that word.

Bear in mind that just because a word doesn’t visibly appear in the search results listing doesn’t mean that it may not form part of the header that isn’t displayed. The message list doesn’t necessarily display full subject lines, for instance.

Posted by Jesse Hollington in Toronto on June 17, 2009 at 3:33 PM (CDT)

4

Nice guide. Very clear.

I have not upgraded to 3.0 (maybe tomorrow if I have the time) but I have been noticing the sliding blue location dot in Maps for awhile now (when outside). If I open maps in the house, I get the location compass and five red dots spread out around the city. I assume because I cannot be pinpointed.

I was hoping for an audible click when tapping the stopwatch on. Alas. If that’s all I will have to complain about, then Apple has done well.

Posted by MidNorthCanuck on June 17, 2009 at 4:51 PM (CDT)

5

When 3.0 was released to developers there were rumors that it would enable Bluetooth via the Nike+ chip in the 2nd gen iPod touch. This was to allow stereo Bluetooth headphones like the iPhone now supports. Is this actually the case?

Posted by Neil on June 17, 2009 at 5:11 PM (CDT)

6

#4: The blue location dot has been appearing in Maps on the iPhone since the 3G added GPS capabilities. However, prior to v3.0, it only appeared *after* GPS coordinates were obtained. With 3.0 it appears immediately on both the iPhone and iPod touch.

#5: Yes, as noted above in the section on Bluetooth Enhancements, the 2G iPod touch now gets full Bluetooth support that is basically on-par with the iPhone. The only difference between the iPhone and iPod touch 2G Bluetooth is support for hands-free headsets, since this is a phone-specific feature.  Note that the original iPod touch does not contain any Bluetooth hardware.

Posted by Jesse Hollington in Toronto on June 17, 2009 at 5:36 PM (CDT)

7

Can’t seem to copy a phone number in the Contacts without dialing it.  Could go into Edit and grab it fine.  Click and hold as described above doesn’t seem to work in this context.

Posted by Dave Williams on June 17, 2009 at 7:53 PM (CDT)

8

I don’t know why the email search doesn’t seem to work for you guys..

I just took a very specific text “XXPDK” from an email where it appeared towards the very bottom of the message.

Search found it in both the Mail app search under ALL, and the spotlight search on the home page.

Maybe your phone hasn’t finished indexing yet…

Full Mail search DOES work

Posted by Brian on June 17, 2009 at 8:08 PM (CDT)

9

I just did a similar test and searching the body of emails does NOT appear to work. I’m on an original first-gen iPhone (two more days till I get my 3G-S).

Posted by icruise on June 17, 2009 at 8:58 PM (CDT)

10

I think I’ve already found a bug.  For whatever reason, my playlists on my iPhone are not sorting correctly.  Typically I sort all playlists by album; this is carried over to the iPhone.  However, when I check my playlist on the iPhone, it’s all out of order - I have no idea what criteria Apple is actually using.  In iTunes for both the editable playlist and the playlist on the iPhone as seen by iTunes, the sort order is as expected.  Looks like the testers didn’t test thoroughly enough.

Plus, is anyone else getting the “Updating library” graphic on their iPhone when accessing the iPod app right after syncing?

Posted by Jay on June 17, 2009 at 9:15 PM (CDT)

11

Thanks for the info Jesse! Great read while waiting for the download of OS3.0 to finish.  Definitely making me salivate all that much more!

Posted by Michel Savoie on June 17, 2009 at 9:30 PM (CDT)

12

So I installed 3.0 on my Ipod Touch 2G and everything went great. The only thing that I noticed that now holding down the home button to close Safari, or mail or music no longer works. I used to do this all the time to free up memory. I anyone else experiencing this. Is there some reason that this no longer works? It’s not the end of the world. I’m just curious why Apple would turn this off.

Posted by Tyler Laird on June 17, 2009 at 11:20 PM (CDT)

13

Bacause holding down the Home key triggers Voice Control on the 3GS, so Apple removed this from the 3G and 2G.

Posted by Idomilliomos on June 17, 2009 at 11:39 PM (CDT)

14

On the subject on full mail search, I’m guessing that Spotlight indexes at intervals and hence that is a disparity in findings.

Posted by Young on June 18, 2009 at 12:10 AM (CDT)

15

The Mailsearch does Fulltext since the early betas - it just has to index first.

Anyone noticed the Messages.app bug:
Compose a new SMS, add another recipient = title changes to “group-SMS” (only if you have mms configured on your device) - quite costly to send an mms, compared to sending multiple SMS, where you have free quotas in most contracts.

Posted by Josh on June 18, 2009 at 12:52 AM (CDT)

16

I am having the same two problems as Jay.  The orders of songs in my smart playlists do not transfer—no matter how I sort them in iTunes, the order on my iPhone stays the same.  Also, the “Updating Library…” message appears every time (for a couple minutes) every time I open the iPod app after syncing.

Posted by Mike on June 18, 2009 at 2:11 AM (CDT)

17

@12: Hold down the power key until you get the “slide to power off” message.  Then instead of sliding, hold down the Home key for 6 seconds.  This will force quit the open app.

#13 I believe is correct as to why this has changed.  Sure your old phone doesn’t do voice control, but I’m sure Apple wants to keep the mechanism uniform across all devices with the new OS.

Posted by Dyvim on June 18, 2009 at 10:04 AM (CDT)

18

@Tyler Laird
“The only thing that I noticed that now holding down the home button to close Safari, or mail or music no longer works…”

It’s still working this function. Apple has just changed the buttons.
Now, you have to press 2 buttons instead of one.
Hold down the on/off power button till you see the slider,
Then hold down the square button(the only button under the screen till your application closed.
It’s working very good for me.
hope it helps.
cheers

Posted by jaovao on June 18, 2009 at 10:06 AM (CDT)

19

Any confirmation if Apple improved the audio quality w/ the 3.0 update? I swear playback of music via the iPod mode sounds clearer, warmer and far less brittle than in earlier device OS releases.

Posted by Scott on June 18, 2009 at 12:21 PM (CDT)

20

Resetting home screen layout resets application alphabetically.

Posted by Name: on June 18, 2009 at 12:29 PM (CDT)

21

Search in Calendars produces just one result despite multiple entries, the nearest to “todays” date.

For instance I had two Dentist appointments, one on the 2nd June (done)and the next on 1st September. Only the June appointment shows up.

I can understand repeat appointments need to be curtailed in Search but similar irregular appointments need to work I feel?

Posted by Joni on June 18, 2009 at 1:20 PM (CDT)

22

Im having a hard time trying to connect the bluetooth to my car…
When I go to the Ipod icon in my iphone it doesnt have the connect the bluetooth button thing…Can anyone please help me.

Posted by Elvis on June 18, 2009 at 3:47 PM (CDT)

23

I’m not really sure what people who think they are getting full-text search results are actually seeing, but the Mail search does NOT do full-text searching. Not only have we tested this very specifically for some time on multiple devices, but Apple’s own iPhone User Guide for iPhone 3.0 explicitly states this on page 37:

Mail:  To, From, and Subject fields of all accounts (the text of messages isn’t searched)

...and further on page 65:

Tap From, To, Subject, or All (From, To, and Subject) to choose which fields you want to search.

It’s also worth nothing that Calendar item notes are not searched either.

Now, to be fair, when continuing your search on the server side, it’s entirely possibly that you may get full-text results. This would depend on the server implementation and whether it extends that search to message bodies. However, none of the IMAP services that we have tried, including both GMail and MobileMe, have provided any results beyond those found in the message headers.  Further, even if your IMAP provider supported this, it would only apply to the second-tier search on the server itself—once you have already finished searching the local device.

Posted by Jesse Hollington in Toronto on June 18, 2009 at 5:57 PM (CDT)

24

@Dyvim & @javvao thanks for your help!

Posted by Tyler Laird on June 18, 2009 at 7:41 PM (CDT)

25

Just spotted a new feature that everyone else missed!

Double-tapping the home button to bring up Music/iPod playback controls now works even if the screen is locked (the controls will appear below the current time).

FINALLY!!!

Posted by oboewan on June 18, 2009 at 8:14 PM (CDT)

26

That was actually there in v2.x.  I’m not sure if it was introduced in a specific sub-version, but it was definitely there in v2.2.

Posted by Jesse Hollington in Toronto on June 18, 2009 at 9:54 PM (CDT)

27

#25: That always worked for me on my iPod Touch long before the 3.0 update.

Posted by Ned Scott on June 19, 2009 at 12:23 AM (CDT)

28

To #‘s 12, 13 & 18
Apple has altered this function.
Force quit an application : Press and hold the Sleep/Wake button on top of iPhone for a few seconds until a red slider appears, and then press and hold the Home button until the application quits.
One thing tho - don’t hold down both buttons at the same time as this will do a hard reset of the iPhone which is not desireable - especially every day.

Posted by Joe B on June 19, 2009 at 7:17 AM (CDT)

29

my beef, picky beef for sure

Why no enable the ipod controls from the lock screen on a single click, or at least have the option?

Still no option for music alarm clocks in the built in clock app? Why?? Sure 3rd party works if you plug in and run the app all night.

Very limited Bluetooth Remote support. I can’t pause or skip. Still love the a2dp but that’s half the equation.

super picky
Allowing choice between headphone or speaker without making me unplug would be nice. Also a quicker way to get to bluetooth than 4 menu items deep.

Posted by cdlenfert on June 19, 2009 at 7:56 AM (CDT)

30

One new feature of 3.0 that I had not seen reported that I experienced this morning was how it deals with entering a WIFI location that requires you to go through a splash page to accept terms.  Previously if you entered a new WIFI location (like when I enter a hospital) my phone would kick over to it, but I had to open Safari to go through the authentication splash page and accept the terms…ie had to jump out of mail or whatever else.  this morning when I entered the hospital while checking email a new splash screen popped up within the email App and allowed me to accept the terms without jumping off and starting Safari.  Quite a time saver.  I didn’t test it out with other 3rd party Apps to see if it works like that for all of them.

Also used the auto-login at Starbucks this AM, much quicker!

Posted by TosaDeac on June 19, 2009 at 10:46 AM (CDT)

31

“Live Updating” of smart playlists is broken, now have to re-sync for playlists to update.  Also broken—factory Honda and BMW iPod integration. Really, really bummed :(

Posted by rockmyplimsoul on June 19, 2009 at 8:04 PM (CDT)

32

will the Dock Connector Access allow 3rd party apps to provide video-out?  Currently only apple native apps provide this.

Posted by Ladd on June 22, 2009 at 1:41 PM (CDT)

33

#7 There is a great little app called copycontacts that allows you to do this quickly, check the app store, pity Apple didn’t think of this though…

Posted by Marcus King on June 26, 2009 at 8:35 AM (CDT)

34

Where’s the hidden To-Do list sync with OS X’s iCal? Oh that’s right,  IT’S STILL NON-EXISTENT after 3 major versions of the iPhone OS.

Apple incompatibility with itself v3.0.

Posted by Herr Doktor on July 2, 2009 at 11:34 AM (CDT)

35

I have an iPod Touch 2G.  Great article and I’m enjoy 3.0 on my 2G even more!

My tip for for any iTouch 2G owners - get the 3.0 OS.

Posted by Tim on July 11, 2009 at 11:51 PM (CDT)

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