Today is the day that Apple officially releases the next-generation iPhone OS called iSO 4. Here's what you need to know about this OS, how to make the best of the upgrade, and a few gotchas to be on the lookout for.
Note: The Gold Master of iOS 4 released to developers and the final release are the same build - 8A293.
So, what's new?
Here's a quick rundown of what's new in iOS 4:
- Multitasking – Well, OK, more of a suspended state where some features of the app continue to work in the background.
- Fast app switching – Goes hand-in-hand with multitasking.
- Folders – Organize your app icons into folders – up to 12 apps per folder.
- Stronger passcodes – Yep, a massive improvement over that 4-digit pincode you get to set.
- Improved built-in apps – Lots of little improvements, some you’ll notice, some you won’t.
- Email improvements – Most significant, unified inbox.
- Game center – Kinda like Xbox Live for the iPhone …
- iBooks – Read books on your iPhone.
- Loads of other minor UI enhancements ...
More on iOS 4 from Apple.
Can you upgrade your hardware? Find out here.
The cost to you: $0
Some gotchas I've noticed:
- Some photos can disappear after upgrade (although they seem to come back when you take a photo).
- Beware of the notes app's ability to create notes and upload the to any IMAP email servers you might have configured - it can be a bit of a shock seeing your private notes up on the email server!
- Battery life changes - while I'm seeing some 15% improvement in battery life on my 3GS, some people are seeing their battery life cut.
- Don't expect multitasking to work for everything as soon as you install iOS 4 - developers have to recompile apps and users have to update.
- Remember that closing apps now doesn't really close them. A double-tap of the Home button brings up the App bar. To fully close an app, bring up the App bar and press on and hold down on any icon and this makes then wiggle and allows you to fully close an app.
Some thoughts ...
- Dragging icons about into folders makes them much easier to manage. And by that I mean much, much easier to manage. This is one feature that is now sorely lacking on the iPad.
- Stability wise, iOS 4 seems rock solid. But then this has been the case with previous apps.
- However, do remember to back up before installing iOS 4!!!
- Also, remember to download and install all app updates which will be rolling in over the coming weeks and months (a number of app updates I've installed over the past few days boast iOS 4 compatibility).
- Overall, it's hard to gauge the effect on battery life. On my relatively new 3GS handset I'm estimating that battery life is up some 15%, but it will be interesting to see what the user verdict is on older handsets, especially 3G handsets.
- I can see myself installing more apps now I have a better way of organizing them. Very quickly I'd got to the point on the iPhone where I felt that adding a new app just made apps harder to find. Folders has come to the iPhone at just the right time.
- Search suggestions in Safari is nice ... I'd gotten used to it on the iPad and missed it on the iPhone. Nice to see a convergence of features.
- There's a really handy iPod improvement too - the ability to work with playlists. You've been able to create them, but this update adds editing features.
- Threaded messages in mail is also a nice touch.
- If there's one complaint I can level at Apple and iOS 4 is that more features means more complexity. While that's inevitable, I feel that Apple isn't doing a good job of showing the user what's new, and showing them how to get access to these new features. It's all very much a case of tapping about and seeing what happens.
- Another complaint is Apple's insistence that it knows best. Putting aside the fact that iOS 4 is a walled garden/prison, I do see some exciting developments on other handsets (such as the Swype keyboard) that aren't being offered to iPhone users.
Got get it. It's free and you've got nothing to lose. iOS 4 should be available for download from iTunes sometime today.
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