If you’ve already got an iPhone or an iPod touch and you aren’t planning to buy the new iPhone 3G, you’ve still got goodies coming your way from Apple this week. Right beside the iPhone 3G, Apple is set to release the iPhone 2.0 software update, its new App Store, and iTunes 7.7 — so if new hardware’s not in your future, at the very least new software is. While the iPhone 2.0 update won’t add any mind-blowing features to your device, it does promise to fill in a few gaping holes in the touch interface. (Oh yeah, and the App Store, scheduled to open today, lets third-party developers fill in the rest.) Apple chief Steve Jobs announced iPhone 2.0 features during his WWDC keynote, but that was over a whole month ago—so let’s take another look at what exactly you’re getting this week in the iPhone 2.0 update.
Note: The iPhone 2.0 update will be free for existing iPhone owners, but will cost iPod touch owners $12.95.
Most everything that’s newly baked into iPhone 2.0 will simply reduce the amount of taps and swipes you need to get tasks done. While there’s nothing to throw a party about, it’s still nice to see Apple fully-bake the touch interface, with:
As-You-Type Contact Search: Scrolling through the alphabet is one thing, but search-as-you-tap is a better thing. A much better thing, especially when you’ve got 178 contacts whose name start with the letter S.
Bulk Delete and Move: Manage your email and photos in batches with bulk delete and move, which lets you select multiple items (messages or photos) and, um, delete or move them. You can also save email photo attachments to your device’s photo library. Again, more of a handy convenience than anything else.
View iWork and PowerPoint Email Attachments: Hand in hand with the iPhone 3G’s Enterprise support (for the corporate types rockin’ Outlook), comes on-device viewing support for PowerPoint and iWork email attachments (Word and Excel are already supported). You can only view these office documents on your device—not edit them—though there’s at least one App Store app on our radar that will support spreadsheet editing.
Scientific Calculator: Mathletes, Apple celebrates you. With the iPhone 2.0 upgrade, you get a scientific calculator—just launch Calculator, and turn the device into landscape mode to go scientific. (Short of to-be-released third party apps, we may be most excited about this than anything else.)
Update! Built-in Screen Capture Utility: With the iPhone 2.0 software installed, hold down the Home button and press the Lock button and your screen will flash—and an image of your phone’s screen gets saved to your Camera Roll’s images. Here’s what mine looks like right now:
Better Language Support and Parental Controls: Linguists and/or parents can rejoice—the iPhone 2.0 update offers better language support (even for Asian languages) plus parental controls now built-in, so you can keep those naughty YouTube videos away from your pesky teenager. Or something.
Copy and Paste: The most glaring omission from the overall iPhone 2.0 polish job is absolutely no word of copy and paste. No, we don’t get it either.
The App Store
The biggest deal about iPhone 2.0 is its doorway to the App Store, the Apple-sanctioned, jailbreak-less source of third-party applications that has the potential to offer all the functionality to your device that isn’t already built-in. Don’t let the “store” moniker get you down. While not all apps will be free, not all will be pay-for, either. The New York Times reports that at launch today, 25% of the 500+ apps will be free—that’s 125+ free downloads right there. We’ve got high hopes for the App Store—set to open today, Thursday—and as soon as it’s available we’ll be downloading every app remotely productivity-related that we can get our paws on, and reporting back to you what’s worth your time and what isn’t.
Give us your take on the iPhone 3G, iPhone 2.0 software update, and the App Store in the comments.