iPhone 3.0 Adds Features Users Wanted - Where Are the Rest?

The shake control, as seen on the newest generation of iPod Nanos, is now available on the iPhone, and in the context of copy and paste, no less. To undo or redo something you accidentally cut or pasted, you just shake the iPhone. Apple said that although it is a simple feature, they wanted the touch usability to be perfect, which is why it took until the third generation of software to add it.

All of the brouhaha over copy and paste feels somewhat silly: After all, this functionality is core to computing, and it's long been available on Palm and Windows Mobile devices, and will be coming soon to Android. T-Mobile will push out a major firmware update (codenamed "Cupcake) to users of the G1 Android handset in April, the mobile operator has said. T-Mobile's update will also introduce virtual keyboards and stereo Bluetooth support, which Apple says will be in iPhone 3.0. The landscape keyboard is a welcome feature for the iPhone, especially for e-mail and notes, where this feature is currently lacking. The Palm Pre does not have a native landscape keyboard, but that isn't a problem since there's a full QWERTY keyboard in its hardware.

Search Within iPhone

Search within the iPhone 3.0 operating system gets a boost through the addition of Spotlight, an iPhone-wide search tool. Spotlight has its own homescreen in 3.0, which will make it really easy to find and launch an application. For example, if you search for "TIM," the song "Time Out" by Dave Brubeck Quartet comes up. If you click on the song, it will automatically start playing in iTunes. While this is a handy feature, the search is limited to only the iPhone. The universal search tool on the Pre, however, will go on and search the Web if it doesn't find what you are looking for on the device.

Apple added multimedia messaging support for the iPhone. Now iPhone users can send pictures, audio files, contacts, and locations (from Maps)-all in one seamless application. And users will also be able forward and delete individual and multiple messages. Even low-end cell phones have MMS support, so this is a great, if not a bit delayed, addition.

Tethering, the ability to use your phone as a modem for your computer, is not currently available for iPhone 3.0. Apple did say, however, that this function is available on the client-side. It is currently working with carriers to develop this support, so stay tuned. The Palm Pre will have this capability when it debuts later this year.

None of iPhone OS 3.0's additions are groundbreaking, but most were desperately needed for the iPhone to remain a worthy contender in the race for the most user-friendly and functional smart phone. However, with its continuing lack of multitasking and background processing support, iPhone 3.0 may not be strong enough to compete with the Pre and webOS and the new generation of Android. Only time-and the devices that come out in the next six months--will tell that story. Apple's one clear advantage-and a huge advantage at that-is the huge ecosystem of accessories and applications for the iPhone. And with the 1000 additional APIs added to this generation's SDK, the iPhone apps will be primed, for now, to triumph over anything available for webOS or Android (or Windows Mobile or BlackBerry, for that matter).

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