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iPhone 4.0 OS

The fourth generation iPhone operating system.

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Apple steps up its game with iPhone iOS 4.0

  • Jun 22, 2010
  • by
The highly anticipated iPhone iOS 4.0 was released today and as an iPhone and overall Apple fan, I set out to download and install it right when it was released at 10 AM PST.  Luckily, I have an iPhone 3GS, so I can reap off of all the benefits of this upgrade.  The original iPhone and iTouch, however, were completely excluded from this upgrade, and the generations in between only received a few upgrades.

For iPhone 3GS users, there were many significant upgrades.  Most notably, the addition of folders and multitasking.  There are also many subtle tweaks in terms of speed and graphic design that just made my heart pitter patter.  Apple fangirls and fanboys all around rejoiced. 

I must add that the download and installation time of this upgrade really varies.  Personally, it took me an hour to download onto my laptop, then another hour and a half to install that onto my phone.  Others said it took 5-6 hours, while one friend bragged about how he installed iOS 4 on two of his phones in just half an hour.

I just took a couple hours to play with it and here are my initial thoughts on some of the new features that stood out the most to me:

As someone who has about a dozen pages of apps, this is a very welcome change.  Creating a folder is simple -- they are created by merely dragging an app on top of another app.  A gray border will surround it, designating it as a folder.  More apps can be dragged in or out as well, and folders, of course, can be renamed.  It's all very intuitive.

I'll longer be able to show off my pages and pages of apps, but then again, the thought of having pages and pages of apps will eventually seem archaic.  Now I'll be trying to impress with my pages and pages of folders.

Background Image
About time!  Another welcome change because before this upgrade, the most that any iPhone user had control over in terms of backgrounds was the locked screen one.  That was it.  This feature was one that even my oldest of phones, pre-popularization of smartphones, had.  So yes, it really was about time.  This was actually the first thing I noticed when I turned on my phone post-OS download -- that instead of a black background, my home background was now the same as my locked screen one.  

I used to change my phone screen background all the time to pictures of pets, friends, food, flowers, or whatever tickled my fancy at the moment, and now I can do that again with my iPhone!

Graphic Tweaks
There's a very noticeable difference in the look and feel of the design, but they're all so minor that you can't quite put your finger on all of them.  The most noticeable difference is that the dock is no longer a monotone gray bar, but is now a cool, reflective glass panel similar to the iPad's.  There's also a difference in the way the page slides and moves as apps load and close.  It's really refreshing.

The email portion received a major makeover.  Not only does it look different, but it has three major new features that I can see so far:
  1. There's an "All Inboxes" folder where you can check the inboxes of every email address on your phone in one roll.  I use to have to forward all of my emails to the one account to do this. 
  2. Now there's a difference between "Inbox" and "Account".  Back when I use to check my email in the olden days (which is about five hours ago), I would have to click on Account, while would pull up all of my email account information, and then I would click on "Inbox".  That's a lot of clicking if you're checking and replying from several email addresses at the same time.
  3. Emails are now threaded, which makes my life so much easier.

I did have trouble logging into one of my email addresses, a Google one, after the installation, an issue I didn't have before.  It's a work email address, so hopefully my IT guy can shed light on that.  I'm not sure whether that's an issue with the upgrade, or my email address. [Update: this issue resolved itself in a couple of days]

All actions are noticeably faster.  Not that I thought my phone was slow before, but nonetheless, I'm very impressed and pleased with this.  Apps open just like *that*.  I wouldn't be able to measure this on a stopwatch or anything, but it's probably a difference of several nanoseconds.  Surprising what a difference that makes.

This was suppose to be one of the most significant upgrades in iOS 4.0, though other smartphones have had this feature for a while.  Personally, I only have one use for this -- using the Pandora app while, well, doing anything else, like sending a text or an email.  Before this release, I was a bit worried about this -- what if I forget to close an app?  Will it completely drain my battery?

Eventually, I discovered that double clicking on the home button pulls up something that equates to a "task manager" that shows all of the apps that are running.  I was surprised to see how many apps that the task manager pulled up.  Some of them were definitely not running though, like the camera, app store, settings, etc.  They were just, there.  To close the apps, simply wiggle them as you would when deleting or moving around an app.  A red "close" logo pops up and running apps can be closed that way.  

This is a cool feature, but pre-iOS 4.0, I had set double clicking the home button to pull up my camera.  Now I actually have to click on the camera button, but that's the price I pay for getting to listen to Pandora uninterrupted.

Speaking of camera, it has zoom now.  Well, so did my older non-smartphones... But anyways, it's 5x digital zoom and it can be pulled up by tapping on the screen as you would for focusing.  It's a digital zoom on a smartphone camera, so it's not super amazing or anything.  It's actually pretty grainy, but it's better than nothing and great for those situations where you can't get any closer to snap a photo.  Remember what I mentioned about speed earlier?  Well, the camera sure is speedy!  It's amazing, and brings new meaning to the word "instantaneous".

Another cool camera feature -- since my photos are geotagged, I can pull up a map that will show me exactly where my photos were taken and how many.  The more I zoom into the map, the more little red dots pop up indicating where I took the photo.  This is one of my favorite new features.

I realize that a lot of these features are already available on other smartphone operating systems, but I'm not complaining.  I say it was worth the download.  The speed and the graphic tweeks make it worth it.  Plus, unlike some of Apple's past upgrades, this is free.  I'm diggin' it.

Now when's Flash coming? ;)

[Update: I guess I was lucky that it took me only two and half hours to install this iOS without incident because many problems have since been reported by other users, including loss of backed up data like music and contacts, issues with wifi connectivity, and taking a dozen+ hours to download and install, so keep these possible issues in mind if you plan on downloading.]
iPhone iOS 4.0 steps up its game

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August 06, 2010
Thanks for sharing your insights. I agree that Flash would be the icing on the cake. ;)
August 07, 2010
Thanks for reading, Kort! And it really would be!
June 22, 2010
Great review! I think I need to get an iPhone 3GS!:)
June 22, 2010
Thanks, Bethany!  I would wait around for the iPhone 4.  Coming in t-minus two days! ;)
More iPhone iOS 4.0 reviews
Quick Tip by . April 09, 2010
Literally x's on my calendar till iPhone 4.0 OS is released!
About the reviewer
devora ()
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When I'm not Lunching, I'm a jeweler, and an all around, self-proclaimed web geek. My passions include social media, the interweb, technology, writing, yoga, fitness, photography, jewelry, fashion, … more
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About this topic


Features include:
  • Ability to multitask
  • Create playlists
  • 5x digital zoom
  • Tap to focus video
  • Bluetooth keyboards
  • Multitasking VOIP API
  • App-specific location settings
  • iPhone social gaming network
  • Ability to categorise Apps into folders
  • Places in Photos
  • Home screen wallpaper
  • Gift Apps
  • Spell Check
  • Introduction of iBooks on the iPhone
  • iPod Out
  • CardDAC
  • Advertising via the iAd network
  • Sync IMAP notes
  • Birthday calendar
  • Persistent Wi-Fi
  • CalDAV invitations
  • Recent Web Searches
  • Top Hit in Search
  • Upload workouts to Nike+
  • Resize Photos
  • Edit from Outboxenwp
  • Search SMS/MMS
  • Nested playlists
  • Folders
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