Blog Post

iPhone OS 3.0: Some Things You Knew, and Some You Didn’t

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A lot of this will not be news to those of you who’ve either experienced the iPhone OS 3.0 beta first-hand, or who’ve read about it here on TheAppleBlog or elsewhere, but the official announcement of what features will be coming via the final release version of 3.0 (dropping June 17) came today via the WWDC keynote address, so here’s a quick recap and breakdown, in case you’ve forgotten or have been hiding your head in the sand. We’ll also look at the 3G S-only features that are coming with the new handset, which Apple (s aapl) is also releasing next week (June 19).


It’s here, it’s universal, it should work in all apps since it’s built right into the iPhone’s Cocoa Touch controls. This is big news for a lot of people who’ve been waiting for this ever since the release of the original iPhone two years ago, but BlackBerry users are probably snickering at all of us right now. All I know is, thank goodness I can finally text message complicated URLs instead of telling people what keyword to Google and what number link to click on in the results.

Shake to Undo

Maybe it’s the lack of a physical keyboard, but I’m always doing the wrong thing with my iPhone and iPod touch. There used to be no easy way to retrace my steps, but now all it takes is a little wrist action to set things right again. Command + Z is the way of the world, and I predict its presence in iPhone 3.0 will be much appreciated. Now, there’s the little matter of Redo. I humbly propose Spin to Redo. Or blow into the iPhone mic. Both would be very stupid-looking.

Landscape Everywhere

Portraits are nice, but sprawling landscapes are sometimes more pleasing to the eye. With 3.0, Apple has enabled landscape mode for all of its official apps, which is great for heavy Mail and Notes users. Maybe this will act as a cue to Twitter app devs?

MMS Available (Selectively)

Your iPhone is no longer preventing you from having MMS capabilities, though your service provider might. Twenty-nine of Apple’s telco partners will have full MMS support available for iPhone users when OS 3.0 goes live in a week, but some will be left out in the cold, including AT&T (s att) users, until a later (summer, in AT&T’s case) date. Here in Canada, we may be slaves to terrible three-year contracts, but at least we’ll have MMS — for a price.


Search your whole phone, not just parts of it. That means music, contacts, email, notes, the works. As someone who’s been using the beta since its release, I can say for sure that this is a great feature. Especially if you’re an app glutton or have a large address book/iTunes library. Just swipe right or double tap from the home screen to access it.

iTunes: Movie/TV Show/Audiobook/iTunes U Direct Downloads

Buy, download, and view all iTunes video content directly on your device, using Wi-Fi or 3G. Not only that, if you like to read with your ears, audiobooks are now also available directly from the iPhone, as is iTunes U content for those students out there. One step closer to cutting the cord. Now where’s that Bluetooth syncing?

Tethering (Also Selective)

Twenty-seven carriers are backing tethering via the iPhone, including Rogers in my homeland. Guess who’s not? I’ll give you a hint: It rhymes with “Haiti and Tea.” Not exactly clear on whether that situation is temporary or not.

HTML 5, HTTP Streaming A/V, Autofill, Javascript Improvements

Safari is getting a whole whack of improvements which should make the iPhone mobile browsing experience much smoother. HTML 5.0 standards support, 3X faster Javascript rendering, intelligent HTTP audio and video streaming that picks bitrate and data quality based on your connection speed, and autofill for forms and logins are all included in the 3.0 update.

Over 30 Languages Supported

Chinese, Hebrew, Arabic, Greek, Korean and Thai are among the new languages supported in 3.0, extending the iPhone’s international appeal.

Parental Controls

Just as suspected, you’ll be able to control iPhone content via a settings pane and age group ratings. Good for parents who are spoiling their kids with iPhones, but don’t want to go so far as to let them ogle bikini babes.

Find My Phone

A “30 Rock” clip featuring Tina Fey as Liz Lemon having lost her iPhone was used to demo the new Find My Phone feature, which has been an option in the beta, but didn’t actually do anything until now. It allows you to track the location of your phone via MobileMe’s web interface, and even send it a message with a phone number for a kind stranger to call if they’re feeling benevolent and want to return your device.

Remote Wipe

If you’re worried that the person who finds your lost phone might not be so benevolent, you can always initiate a remote wipe, which will erase all your data permanently. Nice security feature.

In-App Media Library Access

Get at your iTunes library from within games and other apps. The demo used Gameloft’s Asphalt 5, which now allows you to access your music and playlists via your in-game car’s radio. Pretty cool, and something a lot of games will probably end up taking advantage of. Much cheaper than licensing music for use.

Device Access

Hardware peripherals can now access iPhone software via the dock connector so that third-party companies can develop apps to accompany their iPhone and iPod touch accessories. The tech demo today involved a nifty science experiment, and guitars. Lots of cool stuff possible here, though I predict a lot of buggy stuff coming to market first. Tom Tom showed off a GPS augmentation dock that could be pretty neat with its turn-by-turn software.

Push Notification

Text, audio, and icon badging are all supported as forms of push notification in iPhone OS 3.0. Apple didn’t kid around with the tech demo for this at WWDC, which featured a medical app that can update a doctor in real time of a patient’s status. It rightly awed the crowd.

In-App Purchasing

Let the flood of DLC begin. Level packs, magazine subscriptions, book purchases, cute hats for your in-game avatars, anything you can imagine will be made available by someone. Can’t wait for fart noise add-on packs.

3-Megapixel Autofocus Still/Video Camera (3GS Only)

At least in the controlled environment of the keynote presentation, the new camera looks loads better than the existing 3G’s. Lots of neat “tap to focus” options, better saturation/exposure control, and video capture. Videos can also be instantly edited on the device, as many predicted. The implementation of video functions looks very slick. There is also developer API access to the still and video camera.

Voice Control (3G S Only)

I’m not entirely sure why this is limited to the 3G S, since the iPhone 3G has a mic and software, so it should be able to handle a little voice recognition. I guess it looks cool, though, especially with universal iPod commands (“Play my playlist” and “Play songs like this” to activate Genius) and audio track information just like the iPod Shuffle.

Nike+ Support (3G S Only)

It was supposed to happen, and it did. Not very surprising, but a nice addition. Definitely ups my interest.

Battery Life Improvements (3G S Only)

Nine hours on Wi-Fi, 30 hours audio playback, 10 hours video, 12 hours 2G talk, and five hours 3G. Again, Apple estimates, so likely exaggerated, but should beat the existing iPhone pretty handily. On a more muscular device, too.

Digital Compass (3G S Only)

Just as speculated, the magnetometer made it in. It allows Google Maps to know your orientation, among other things. Developer API access is also included.

It’s a long list, it’s a good list, it’s an incomplete list. iPhone OS 3.0 brings 100+ new features, many of which won’t be immediately apparent. These are the ones that will likely matter to you on a day-to-day basis, and that’s why they’re here. If there’s anything I’ve missed, feel free to comment below.

50 Responses to “iPhone OS 3.0: Some Things You Knew, and Some You Didn’t”

  1. Ka-nacho

    I’m posting from the original iPhone runnin 3.0.
    I have they improved alot of but still where’s the mms, flash, and
    what the hell with disallowing system dianogstic apps. Apple I’m a
    very pround 15 year old owner of you iPhone but really grow up
    and add this stuff. It’s like apple wants to lose money. My outlook
    is that apple has alot to improve on like there mms, web browser,
    better media stuff on their devices. I’m trying to avoid jailbreaking
    but I’m considering it unless 3.x lands some very wanted features.
    I’ll post back later tonight

  2. Waverider

    All tech companies try to make more money by tweaking something what they already have. It’s just sad that the iPhone can’t do the same thing that other cheap (or older) phones can do now.

  3. I am not savvy enough to know if the hardware in the 3G makes it possible to support a video cam feature or not, but it does seem to me that this is just another money grab from Apple, which is just like the money grabs from all other tech companies. My husband bought me a 3G last year for my birthday which happened to be the same day the 3G was introduced to the market and went on sale. I love the phone, but was disappointed with the lack of certain feature such as video. He spent $249.00 for the phone, and now, less than a year later, they add new excellent features, which require purchasing another, brand new phone. Sure, some of the upgrades with the 3.0 download are very nice, but it is still a big disappointment overall.

  4. It really sucks the fact that they didn’t include voice recognition and video camera feature on iPhone 3G, even though it has all the necessary hardware. I don’t have an iPhone, but I’m really sorry for those who have.

    • I kind of laugh when customers get mad without doing their research… when companies try to improve the usability of a product and also gain more attention for their efforts. It’s not surprising to release a new version of a product since it has new functions/hardware. Apple has every right to charge people for it since they must have spent so much time and $$ on improving its product. And people took no notice of your post, they can sulk in what they want to believe.

  5. will iphone OS 3.x address the inability of the current iphone OS to work with MS Exchange server emails ‘off line’ like MS Mobile OS does?

  6. I updated my iphone with the leaked OS 3.0 software and I can send/recieve picture text messages although I have a family shared texting plan my friends who have the Iphone texting plans do not recieve picture texts. So i know it’s really not very hard for AT&T to change the details on a plan they do it all the time haha.

  7. AT&t wont be supporting MMS because apple made them disable MMS from iphones, because of hackers getting MMS from cydia. Now they must manually enable the opt-out codes for MMS on each and every iphone. Dont blame AT&T, its not their fault, its apple’s raging battle with iphone hackers. AT&T had to do what apple said, i guess because of legal matters or just to stay friendly with apple so they’d stick with AT&T for iphones.

  8. Johnny

    I’m pretty sure AT&T are trying to figure out how they can make the most money off of MMS and tethering and that’s why they haven’t made either one available yet. When they figure out their data plan limits for tethering and how to charge for MMS they’ll let the bullshit fly.

  9. Whilst mms, video etc are welcome lets not get too giddy and remember that these features should have been present when the iphone launched, better late than never though. What of the rest of the ‘100’ new features?????

    Has Apple fixed the dreaded sms preview problem? Can you make calls directly from numbers entered in the diary? What about sending business cards and using whatever ringtone I like? Can I fully edit the screen icons rather than pushing ‘stocks’ out of sight to the back page? Can I delete individual messages or indeed forward them? So many questions Darrell, so many questions???????????????????????????????????????

  10. Collin

    This is bull crap. This is pathetic. This is outraging.
    Almost every cell phone in the world has a video camera and now only the 3G S will have one. What the hell is this all about? Why can’t a 3G have a video camera?

  11. dontforget

    hey , don’t be disappointed my fellow iphone 3g owners!!!!! an easy jailbreak will get you recording pleasant enough video right from your iphone 3g!!!! i’m sure you can add all these other “iphone 3gs only” features when you jailbreak!!! but be warned do it at your own risk!!!!

    • @ dontforget
      You cant record a video with the camera in the iphone. its a hardware thing. just because your digital camera can do both doesnt mean all cameras can.

      so no, video recording wont come to the iphone if you jailbreak it… idiot

      Voice recognition, is not the same as voice recording. it takes more than a microphone to decypher and understand what you just said, rather than record it and play it back to you.

      Compass, not sure why this wasnt actually included in the update as other people have made compass apps….

  12. What baffles me the most about the MMS thing with AT&T is that it’s MONEY in their POCKET. I could understand why they didn’t support it before now. Obviously the iPhone didn’t allow it. You’d think they would have tried to work with Apple to get it, but you could assume that Apple believed MMS was just crippled email and old technology, and didn’t want it on their advanced hardware.

    However, now it IS available, 29 other carriers across the globe will have it ready at launch, and AT&T has apparently chosen to delay launching something that is pretty much just extra messaging fees in coffers. Between that and tethering (another money maker), you have to wonder if AT&T even WANTS to make money. Bizarre to say the least.

  13. Where’s the mass letter letting AT&T know that it’s unacceptable to not support a new feature of the iPhone that they currently support for every other phone until later this summer? A feature they simply have to switch on, as several with the beta 3.0 experienced?

    This is insane, thanks for being one of the millions that bought this expensive phone and brought our company a ton of cash…no go away, we don’t want to enable MMS for you. Assume MMS was a surprise to AT&T in March, like it really wasn’t for the rest of us…they’ve had 3 months to figure out how they could enable it on 3.0 launch for the for the millions of iPhone subscribers….

    It’s a good thing exclusivity ends soon, I guess they’re not going to do anything to try and convince us not to run off to another carrier as soon as we can.

  14. The whole voice control thing gaps my mind too… I wonder what “hardware” they added that makes the 3G incompatible for this. Video recording should be able to as well imo. I understand that cam is less quality but who cares 3G should be able to do it too. :(

    • This is truly not acceptable, I do not like being forced to buy a new iphone just to have all that features that most of which should just work. I have a piece of crap cricket phone that has voice recognition.

    • Steven

      For the record, it has shake to redo as well. I speak from having the software, just shake, it’ll provide a button to undo then shake again and it’ll provide a button to redo.