Hands-On with the iPhone 3.0 OS; Search is the Winner

The iPhone 3.0 OS is going to be released this Wednesday. It will be available to all iPhones (for free) and iPod Touches (for a small cost). The iPhone 3GS will ship with it. The new OS became available last week to those willing and able to try it out a bit early (see Gizmodo for details). This is what I’ve noticed since updating:

iphone 3.0 search

Search – The new OS has search everywhere. It’s the zero screen (to the left of your homescreen), in mail and in the iPod. It has become my preferred way of launching applications and finding contacts. You can choose what you want to search and their priority in Settings->General->Home (screenshot). I immediately set the Home button to go to Search, so that with just two taps I am able to launch an app. Unfortunately, there is no spatial component to contact search (I’d like to be able to pull up everyone in a town I am visiting for instance. I hope that third-party apps will be able to include their content in Search.

Voice Memos – Voice recorders have been around since the App Store launch so I didn’t really understand why Apple was spending development resources on their own version. Now I know, Apple’s version will run in the background letting you access other apps while getting an audio record of your surroundings. Unsurprisingly, you can’t record phone calls with it.


Cut-n-Paste – The iPhone finally includes cut-n-paste. Initially I found it awkward, but now that I’ve figured out that double-tapping any text to select it. It is really, really nice to have this feature — almost as nice as getting Search.

New iPod Controls – The iPod will now let you jump back 30 seconds if you missed something. It will also let you speed up or slow down audio. This is very nice for us appreciators of the spoken word.

Safari – Unfortunately I have not found any web app that uses the new geolocation and offline features of the new Safari browser. I expect that apps like Google’s Latitude that use geolocation (demoed working in the browser at Where 2.0) and the new GMail that uses offline storage (demoed at the Web 2.0 Expo). I have not perceived the new Browser to be appreciably faster

There are other features (like forwarding SMSs and more detailed call logs), but these were the most significant updates to me. Right now there is no way the new Hardware API or P2P API. We’ll have to wait for new apps to come to the store to try them out. I’ll be getting the new iPhone 3GS this week and will share my impressions of the new hardware shortly.