As you might have heard, Apple is releasing a new iPhone on June 29th (a slight delay from the original release date of June 24th) and it will be a revolutionary device with all the new features it brings to the table. While there does exist quite a bit of new technology in this new device, like a front-facing camera for video chat, a 5 mega-pixel camera, noise suppression, and a slick new case that is even thinner than the iPhone 3Gs, the real groundbreaking performance is due to the new operating system (iOS 4). The great thing about iOS 4 is that you don’t need to have a new iPhone 4 to take advantage of some of these new and exciting features is brings. If you have an iPhone 3Gs or 3G, or a second or third generation iPod Touch, you can upgrade to this new operating system as of Monday, June 21st. Perhaps the most discussed new feature, multi-tasking, will not be available on the iPhone 3G and the second generation iPod Touch, but there do exist some great new features that all of the above mentioned devices can utilize.
My favorite new feature is “folders”, where you can group apps by whatever classification you deem, simply by dragging one app on top of another. This groups the apps and gives you the opportunity to name the folder whatever you please, although it’ll name it automatically based on what type of apps are in there. Each folder can store up to 12 apps, and the red badges (like when you have unread email messages) will show on the folder for an app contained therein. One thing I noticed is that you might forget where you put an app, but thanks to the handy Spotlight search, finding them isn’t an issue. I’m sure once you get acclimated to using the folder feature, you’ll remember in which folder you stashed that app.
My second favorite new feature is the unified Mail inbox, which is something that was sorely missed in the previous versions of the iPhone operating system. If you have multiple email addresses that you use your phone to check, you can now see them all in one screen, which in my opinion, is absolutely necessary. Before, having to switch back and forth between your mail folders was pretty inefficient, but if you liked that degree of separation between your mail folders, not to worry, it’s still in there. Mail also now incorporates threads, so any emails relating to a discussion are now linked to the initial email; you can see the number of linked messages in a little grey box on the right. Also, multiple Exchange accounts are now supported, so now business users can gripe a little less about the iPhone.
In the iPod app, you can now create new playlists on your device itself, which is pretty nice for folks that don’t connect their device to the computer that often. You can edit the playlist fairly easily, adding, deleting, and reordering items on the fly. The camera app now features a 5 digital zoom, which isn’t going to improve the quality of the pictures you take, but it’s a nice addition, nonetheless. Another cool addition to the camera is “Places”, which can geotag your pictures with the location where you took them; you can then see where you have been taking pictures on a map.
There are a ton of other new features that the iPhone 4 and iOS 4 include, which would warrant a follow-up review once I get my hands on the new toy. In the meantime, I highly encourage you to download this free upgrade to your iPhone to start playing with all the new features.