Tuesday, June 30, 2009

iPhone 3.0: 10 Hidden Features in Latest Update

With the recent release of the iPhone 3.0 software update there are many hidden and undocumented features popping up now that people have had time to play around with the new iPhone OS. Here is a compiled list from PC World of the top 10 unknown features of the new operating system and some of my thoughts.

Adjustable Song Scrolling Speed

When previously listening to a song on your iPhone, there was just a simple dot on the song bar to rewind or fast forward your music. However, in the new 3.0 software update, you can now scroll through songs at various speeds by using different movements with your finger. Normally, if you drag your finger left or right on the song bar, you will scroll through a song at "high speed". But, if you do this movement while dragging your finger down the screen, then the speed will decrease to "half speed," "quarter speed," or "fine scrubbing." While its unclear at this moment if this feature works with movies I still have to say the adjustable scrolling speed is a great addition to the iPhone, especially for music lovers.

Special Characters In Messaging

The 3.0 keyboard has a few new features such as special characters and a quick punctuation feature while typing in letter mode. Some of the new special characters are activated when holding down certain keys and signs. For example, if you hold down the "." you also get an option to choose "...". The dash"-" also displays an em-dash "-" while the quotations and apostrophes display "<<" and ">>" respectively. While I'm all for making typing quicker and easier, is there really any use in providing functionality for the ">>" and "<<" symbols?

More Ways to Access Spotlight

Spotlight, the search function that lets you look through your e-mail, contacts, appointments, and notes can now be accessed and opened in many different ways. Your Mail and Contacts screen now how a search bar at the top of the list for spotlight and spotlight can even be accessed quickly from the home screen by swiping towards the right side of the screen. To me, it seems that the spotlight function being added to the contacts and e-mail sections of the iPhone should of been a no-brainer in previous operating systems but its great to finally see them implemented.

Quote Fragment Within Reply in Mail

The Mail app in the iPhone 3.0 update can now reply with a quote from the original e-mail. In order to do so, you need to tap and hold while viewing an e-mail (just like with copy/paste) and select the portion of the text that you want to quote. Then simply hit the reply button and the selected text will be appended to the end of your e-mail under your signature. This seems to be an easy way to reply to specific parts of an e-mail without confusing the other reader.

Remove Individual Texts from A Conversation

One of the biggest annoyances in the iPhone 2.X software was that you had to remove an entire conversation of text messages instead of deleting parts. In the new 3.0 update, there is an Edit button which allows you to select and remove individual text messages from a certain tree, similar to the way it is done in the mail app. In this way, you can also select a text to forward instead of copy and pasting the text itself. This is a great way to keep track of important texts for later reference without having to keep all the extra junk attached.

Open Link In New Tab In Safari

Safari now uses tabbed browsing just like explorers on a desktop. When browsing all you have to do is tap and hold on a hyperlink and you will be prompted with dialog to open this link, copy it, or open it in a new tab, just like Firefox or IE. This is a great step forward in multi-tasking on the iPhone.

Force Quit Unresponsive Apps

Due to the many functionalities of the Home button on the iPhone, this key will no longer force quit unresponsive apps like it did in the previous version. To force quit an application in 3.0, you will now have to hold the sleep/wake button at the top until the red power off slider appears. You will then have to hold down the home button to quit the unresponsive application. While this will probably seem like a hassle at first since you will be accustomed to the old way of quitting applications, it seems that it was a necessary change to due the many functions already associated with the home key.

Change App Store Account On The Fly

In the old days you were stuck changing your iTunes account from your computer and then syncing back up with the iPhone. In the 3.0 software you can now change your account two different ways. The first by going to Settings/Store and logging out and then back in with a different account. The second way of changing your iTunes account is by going straight within the App Store application. At the bottom of each search page your account will be displayed and if you tap on it you will be able to view your account information and even change it.

Unlimited Number of Apps Installed

In the 3.0 software update you can now install an unlimited number of applications on your iPhone with space permitting. The number of application pages themselves has increased from nine to eleven and should applications be installed above the 176 mark, (i.e. they can't fit on the applications page), then these applications can be accessed through spotlight. Its great that iPhones can now have unlimited applications but what I don't get is why they couldn't just make an unlimited amount of application pages with the option to access any of them through spotlight.

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