By Ed Oswald | Sunday, April 11, 2010 at 10:07 pm
As soon as Apple announced iPhone OS 4 last Thursday, I was itching to get my hands on it–and it wasn’t long before I installed the Developer beta on my iPhone 3GS.
The beta is categorized as a major release, but most of the obvious new features are minor. It’s definitely buggy, with a few minor issues–although no real showstoppers–and there are applications I’ve come across that don’t function properly, or refuse to run at all.
The Home screen’s black background is now replaced by a background image, and the Dock has taken on a look akin to that of Mac OS X Snow Leopard. Double-tapping the home button is a shortcut to the iPod app or whatever you had it set for: instead it now launches another dock that is filled with your running applications. This is “multitasking” iPhone style.
While switching applications is straightforward, quitting them is a bit of a pain. You have to tap and hold the icon and then tap the delete icon that appears.
The new unified Mail inbox is nice–no more tapping between inboxes to check mail. Gmail accounts act odd: instead of deleting, you “archive,” meaning the message is not deleted from the server. I would rather have the option to change this back to deleting, as the current approach is just asking for a mailbox full of mail that I really don’t need.
The zoom functionality on the camera is quite impressive. What I also like here is the autofocus from the iPhone 3GS is gone. Now its’ one tap to focus and you’re done. As the zoom is digital, pixelation will be an issue, but that is unavoidable and the software seems to do a good job in smoothing it out.
Other minor enhancements include the ability to pull up past Web sites by title (akin to Firefox 3) and the ability to select which calendars to display in iCal instead of just one or all.
Game Center doesn’t work yet. Also missing is the iBook application discussed at last week’s presentation.
iPhone OS 4 could change more before Apple finishes it up for release this Summer, and if Apple plans to release a new iPhone at the same time, any goodies it’ll contain are still secret. Judging from the time I’ve spent with the beta so far, most of the new features beyond multitasking seem to be incremental ones. Much of the change is below the hood, where Apple says there are 1500 new APIs that will help developers build more powerful apps.