Sometimes I think to myself, “How can I get more of my money into Apple’s coffers?” Apparently Apple knows this is a concern of mine, so it introduced direct ringtone purchasing in iPhone OS 3.1. That’s not all that’s there, but it is one of the major changes in this incremental update.
Also new in 3.1 is a relaxation of the API limitations! Just kidding. But there are some nice user-side improvements that make it easier to forget about all the fuss surrounding the App Store lately.
Apple’s dubiously named Genius recommendation engine comes to the App Store in 3.1. The service will check what you’ve already installed on your device and return results based on those selections. Thus far, I’m none too impressed with the mental acuity of Genius for Apps, which seems to be largely keyword-based.
iPhone OS 3.1 also supports the new Genius Mixes feature available in iTunes 9. iTunes will automatically create up to 12 playlists based on what’s in your library, without you even having to select a track as a starting point.
Finally, there’s a way to organize your various iPhone and iPod touch Home screens that isn’t painfully slow and liable to drive you completely nuts. With iPhone 3.1 and iTunes 9, you’ll be able to rearrange app icons visually on your computer, and then sync that arrangement to your portable device.
You can even select and drag multiple apps at once, and change the order of entire Home screens at a time, just like you should’ve been able to do from the start.
Syncing and iTunes
With iTunes 9 and OS 3.1, you should see improved syncing for all media, including new sync options like the ability to sync Faces from iPhoto ’09. Students can organize their iTunes U content, and you can now redeem gift cards and promo codes in the App Store application. You can also see how much credit is available in your account right on your device.
As mentioned above, you can now download ringtones wirelessly from the iTunes store on your device. That means it’s far easier to spend $1.29 on something that will give you at best a week’s worth of pleasure and those around you months of agony and annoyance.
As seen in early builds of iPhone OS 3.1, video editing is now non-destructive thanks to a new “Save as new clip” option that preserves the original. You can also save received videos from email and MMS into your Camera Roll, making them easier to review and share with others.
Many Little Things
iPhone OS 3.1 also brings a whole host of small changes and adjustments, including a fix for that nasty icon display issue, anti-phishing measures in Safari, Voice Control access via Bluetooth headsets, phone number pasting in the Phone app, and maybe most impressive, the ability to remotely lock your iPhone with a passcode for MobileMe users.
My early hands-on experience with 3.1 also seems to indicate that general performance is much improved, resulting in much snappier, tighter OS performance overall. Bugs will no doubt raise their ugly heads, but for now, it’s all roses. Just plug your iPhone or iPod touch in and click the “Check for Updates” button in iTunes to get rolling.