Wednesday, June 23, 2010

iPhone: the iOS4 upgrade

So of course I had to be one of the first to install the iOS4 upgrade to my iPhone 3GS. Here are first impressions (your mileage may vary).

First off, an iTunes upgrade is necessary (of course). That wasn't bad but did fail the first time. I'm wondering if there was a great crush of folks waiting to do this that caused the problem. There are a few differences in a couple of screens I noticed, but since I seldom use iTunes other than upgrading my phone and occasionally loading new music I'm hardly qualified to speak on the subject.

iTunes cheerfully informed me there was a new version of the firmware available; did I want to upgrade. Then the ritual acceptance of new terms and conditions. 

The upgrade itself was slow but not outrageous. Then came the phone backup. I stopped checking at 5 hours and just set my alarm for the middle of the night. A co-worker later told me that for whatever reason the app "Stanza" can cause glacially slow backups. If you have it, consider uninstalling, at least temporarily.

When I checked again at 3 AM, everything was done. Hooray!


First thing I notice when I restarted: the home screen background now matched my lock screen background. These two screens can be set independently of each other from the Photos app. Select a photo, go to "Use as wallpaper," scale it, and then hit "Set." You can set it as lock screen, home screen or both. Slightly useless but hey -- we all like to customize stuff we look at.

I suspect a new boom business in creating artsy backgrounds will emerge from the iPhone biosphere.


Best new feature, hands down: folders. 

I had about a dozen screens of miscellaneous apps, and try as I may, there was no good way to organize that wasn't a pain in the ass in some way. Do you group them by category? Most used? No matter what I did, I found myself constantly flipping through 6 or 7 screens to get to the one I wanted. 

Folders change all that. I'm down from 11 to 4 screens. I've got 2 screens that feature half folders / half most used apps, and a couple of screens yet to be sorted. The folders are grouped by app type / category. I'm now at most 3 gestures away from the majority of my apps. One minor limitation is that each folder will hold a maximum of a dozen apps, so if you are app crazy like me, you may wind up with multiple folders for a given category.

I had to Google to find how to create folders (no in-phone documentation) but it's fairly easy: hold down an icon until it goes into jiggle mode, then drag and drop one icon onto another you want in the same group. A folder title will be suggested (appears to be from the App Store category) but you can easily change the default title. 

Once the folder is created, you can drag and drop new app icons into the group. Once you hit 12, if you try and add another it will simply not go into the folder. Like the app icons, folders can be dragged and dropped where ever. Finally, folders cannot contain sub-folders.


If (like me) you have multiple inboxes, checking your mail can be a bit laborious. Now, in addition to the individual inboxes, you have a consolidated inbox with all your mail. Not insanely great, but certainly nice.


I haven't had a chance to check out support for bluetooth keyboards (while this initially sounds cool, on further reflection I'm thinking: why? Probably mostly an iPad thing). I noticed something for tethering in the settings but haven't tried it and suspect I never will. If I needed to get online with my laptop that bad, I'd find a Starbucks with WiFi -- I suspect 3G internet on a laptop would be one step removed from dialup. Maybe not --  but I doubt AT&T is going to let this happen for free.

Final thoughts

Youngest son has been after me to jailbreak my phone for a while. With this I see even less reason to do so. Again, your mileage may vary.

Note: will try and post some screenshots this evening.

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