Steve Jobs' Macworld keynote was today, and among a bevy of new hardware announcements, Apple has pushed out two very significant updates for iPhone and iPod touch users. Apple has added multi-recipient SMS (iPhone-only), faux-GPS on Google Maps using cell tower triangulation, Web Clips (i.e., bookmarks of web sites on your home screen), and home screen icon customisation via drag and drop. iPod touch users can now get the Mail, Maps, Stocks, Notes, and Weather apps that came standard on the iPhone for a $24.99 upgrade (these features will come standard in new iPod touches). Hit the jump for a closer look at the new and improved features.
Faux-GPS in Google Maps
The faux-GPS feature works with both your cell signal or with Wi-Fi hotspots, which means that it will work for both iPhone and iPod touch. Of course, the accuracy and availability of this feature will vary depending on your location. Google Maps has also added the hybrid view you're likely familiar with from Google Maps on the web.
Web Clips for Bookmark on the Home Screen
Also available on both the iPhone and iPod touch is the Web Clips feature, which creates icons on your home screen to launch Safari directly to your bookmark. You can create Web Clips of any site, and the home screen icon will grab a screenshot of what's visible in Safari when you create the Web Clip.
Home Screen Customisation via Drag and Drop
Now that you've got all these new icons on your home screen, you're probably going to want to manage and customise their layout, right? Apple thinks so, which is why they've also added home screen customisation to this update. It works like this: Just tap and hold any app on the home screen. After a second, your home screen will go all Jello-like, with the application and Web Clip icons jiggling back and forth. Now you can simply drag and drop any icon on the home screen to any new location (including the dock) or to a new page altogether. You can also remove Web Clips by tapping the 'X' button in the corner of the icon. When you're finished rearranging apps, tap the home button to save your changes.
Multi-recipient SMS has long been supported by cell phones, so Apple's just catching up on this one. On the plus side, the multi-SMS is made to work well with the iPhone's conversation-focused SMS app, so conversations with multiple recipients should still be managed through a unified interface.
Gmail IMAP is now part of the default setup for the iPhone's Mail app, so you don't have to go through any nitty-gritty details setting up your Gmail IMAP account—you can just give your iPhone or iTouch your Gmail username and password and IMAP should be ready to go. iTunes is now doing movie rentals, which, obviously, can be synced to your iPhone/iPod touch. The iPod app will now support music lyrics, though I've yet to see this in action (the firmware update still isn't available as of this writing).
Get It All Without Upgrading
As you may remember, I recently wrote about the 20 best iPhone and iPod touch applications, highlighting several applications that offer the same functionality that this firmware was to introduce. While the third-party apps don't do everything that the 1.1.3 firmware does, the 1.1.3 update doesn't do everything the third-party apps do, either. We've already got Navizon GPS for the same faux-GPS functionality, iSMS (or SMSD) for multi-recipient SMS and then some, and Customize for home screen customization and more. As I said, the new iPod will feature album lyrics, and though I haven't seen it in action yet, I also am confident at this point that it won't hold a candle to TuneWiki—but we'll see.
It sort of goes without saying that the 1.1.3 update will break any third-party apps you've already installed, so if you're running killer third-party apps that you can't (or don't want to) do without, I'd avoid this update until the iPhone hackers come out with another jailbreak method (like they've done in the past). If you've got a jailbroken iPhone or iPod touch, I'm curious to hear if you're going to update or wait for a jailbreak solution for 1.1.3, so give us your thoughts in the comments.