iPhone 2.0 Software Upgrade
Price: Free for iPhone users; $9.99 for iPod touch users
Pros: Allows users to access the App Store; push connectivity; loads of small usability improvements.
Cons: Doesn’t deliver long-awaited features, such as the ability to copy and paste, view Flash in Safari, or synch To Do items.
A new version of the iPhone also means new software to run it. Version 2.0 is available standard on new phones, as a free upgrade to current iPhone users, and for $9.99 for iPod touch owners.
We’re not sure why iPod touch users get so much less love from Apple, but the upgrade price is low, so users don’t seem to be complaining. The January software upgrade, which delivered Mail, Weather, Google Maps, Stocks, and Notes, cost iPod touch users $19.99. Anyone who didn’t purchase it will get that software bundled in with the current upgrade.
There’s much to like about the 2.0 software, which adds a huge variety of features and programs to the iPhone and iPod touch. The chief reason to get it, however, is certainly to access…
* The App Store: Apple has opened up the iPhone platform to developers with the $99 Software Development Kit, which allows them to create new applications for the iPhone or iPod Touch and make them available for sale or free download in the App section of the iTunes Store (Apple first tests and approves all submissions).
Users access the App Store either through iTunes or through an App Store icon on the iPhone/iPod touch desktop. iPhone users who try to download an application over 10MB while using a cellular connection will be asked to try again over Wi-Fi or on their computer.
The App Store is a great addition, since it lets users add new functionalities or games to their favorite device. Everyone’s first download should be Remote, the Apple-created application that lets users control their Mac’s iTunes or their AppleTV from their iPhone or iPod.
While Apple pre-tested the applications, we found occasional glitches—although none severe. One application caused our iPod touch to restart suddenly on one occasion. Pandora Radio, a terrific application that lets you create and control your own custom streaming radio station, seems to get flakey if stopped and restarted. Just remember: hold down the Home button for six seconds to force quit an application; hold down the sleep/wake button and the Home button together for a few seconds to reboot an iPhone or iPod touch.
* Enterprise Functionality: The iPhone 3G joins the business world with support for Microsoft Exchange ActiveSync, which allows push e-mail, calendar, and contact syncing. Lacking the necessary network, we weren’t able to test this feature.
* Push with MobileMe: Everyone else can get push e-mail, calendar, and contact data by subscribing to Apple’s MobileMe service for $99 per year. Look for our full review of MobileMe in August.
* Scientific Calculator: The new software offers several clever innovations done in Apple’s own stylish way. Open up the Calculator application and you’ll see the standard interface from the original software. Now, turn your iPhone or iPod touch sideways and it automatically becomes a scientific calculator. Nice.
* E-mail Management: You can now mass delete or mass move e-mails in the Mail application. Just tap the Edit button in the top right of the interface to call up the controls.
* E-mail Attachments: The Mail application expands its attachment abilities with support for iWork and Microsoft PowerPoint files.
* Image-Saving: It’s now simple to save images from Web pages or e-mail attachments by tapping and holding the image. You’ll get a message asking if you want to save it, and the saved image will end up in a new iPhoto folder. You can also take a screen shot of your desktop by quickly pressing the sleep/wake button and the Home button at the same time.
While the new software is definitely an improvement and well worth even the $9.99 payment for iPod touch users, we’re left wondering why Apple didn’t include a few obvious fixes. Users still can’t copy and paste text, the Safari browser still doesn’t support Flash content, and the software still won’t sync To Do items with the host computer. Why such basic abilities have been omitted we just can’t say.
Apple is taking its time rolling out new features, but at least it’s making sure that the ones it releases are stylish, useful, and full of Apple flair. While we wish this upgrade had gone a little farther, the improvements it delivers are sure to keep iPhone and iPod touch owners happy.
Troy Dreier is a regular contributor to Web Video Universe, PDA Street, Intranet Journal, and Laptop Magazine. He also writes a weekly consumer technology column, which is published in the Jersey Journal newspaper and distributed by the Newhouse News Service.