Hands On With iPhone 3.0's Best New Features

The iPhone 3.0 software update hit servers a few hours ago, and we spent some time playing with every new feature we could find. Step inside for a look at our favourite new iPhone 3.0 features.

The Goods

  • Spotlight Search: Possibly the best feature from a productivity standpoint, just press the Home button from the Home screen (specifically the first page of your Home screen) to bring up a quick search box that searches across the breadth of your iPhone. That includes contacts, bookmarks, music, applications, notes, calendar and even email messages. Incidentally, you can also now switch the double-click Home button behaviour to launch Spotlight (or the Camera). If you don't want an item indexed or you want to change the result order, just head to Settings -> General -> Home and tweak the the Search Results (this is also where you change the double-click behaviour).

  • Copy and Paste This one wins the aware for the longest-time-coming iPhone feature. Just double-tap or tap-and-hold a bit of text to bring up your copy context menu, adjust the start and end points of the text you want to cut or copy, then tap the Copy/Cut button to finish the job. When you're ready to paste, just double-tap again in an input field. If you changed your mind about a paste or cut, you can also shake to undo.

  • Camera/Photos tweaks: Your Camera and Photo apps both saw some minor but cool feature updates. Pictured, you'll see that the Camera app now sports a tiny thumbnail of the last picture you took that, when tapped, takes you to your Camera Roll. When you're sending, copying, or deleting photos from your iPhone, you can now select multiple photos at a time (handy for iPhone reviewers emailing images to themselves).

  • Messages (aka the old SMS app) When MMS is available, it'll be capable of sending vCards, pictures, audio files, and Google Maps locations. Some users have reported issues getting this to work.
  • Form AutoFill in Safari If you're anything like this editor, you spend a lot of your time on the iPhone in Safari. I even use Gmail via Safari rather than Mail. Sure I'm always checking that Remember Me box when I log into web sites, but now I can simply hit the AutoFill button and be done with it. It's a security concern, to be sure, but it's also extremely convenient.

  • Open Link Options: Anyone who's gotten used tabbed browsing on the desktop probably feels a little suffocated by the lack of options for opening links on the iPhone. That's all gotten a bit better with the improved Open link options in the new and improved Safari. Just tap and hold a link for a convenient pop-up that allows you to choose where you want to open the link (and lets you copy it for pasting elsewhere).

  • Search in Mail Like I said, I still do most of my iPhone emailing with Gmail in Safari, but if you use Mail regularly, the new search option, complete with filters, is gangbusters.

  • Shake to Shuffle on iPod: This novel feature has mostly just been weird in my tests. I feel like I have to shake awfully violently for it to work, and it just seems like way more effort than it's worth.
  • Push Notification: We haven't seen a lot of applications that already support background push notifications, but you can expect to hear a lot more about this feature as more and more apps integrate them. Right now we're told that Tap Tap Revenge, the AP Mobile app, and a few others are already working with push. I've tried a few but haven't received any push notifications yet.
  • Voice Memos App: At this point voice recording applications are a dime a dozen in the App Store, but it's still great to see a really nice one come with iPhone 3.0 out of the box.

  • Landscape on Everything: Okay, not everything, but you now get landscape mode in Messages (SMS), Mail, Stocks, Contacts (strangely, though, just in the Contacts app and not in the Contacts section of the Phone app), and Notes. Big improvement.

How Do You Like It?

If, like us, you've spent some time getting to know the ins and outs of the new iPhone 3.0 update, let's hear how you like it so far—and what features stand out to you—in the comments..


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