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New Features in iPhone OS 4 Beta 3

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This week saw the release of a new beta for the upcoming iPhone OS major release, version 4.0. Beta 3 brought a lot of bug fixes and stability improvements, but it also brings some more noticeable changes the user experience of everyone’s favorite smartphone device.

File Sharing

A new menu interface in the Apps tab of your iPhone when it’s connected to iTunes promises to allow you to move files from your computer to your iPhone, and to specific apps in particular.

Can’t wait to see this feature implemented device-wide. It’ll make it so much simpler to use apps like Documents to Go and, hopefully, the entire iWorks suite from Apple itself. Let’s hope all file types are supported, too, so that certain apps will be able to turn your iPhone into a true flash drive, finally.

Closing Open Apps

The new multitasking interface is great for switching between apps, but wasn’t all that great for killing open ones, since you had to hold them individually until the red minus sign appeared, and then do the same again for the next. In this new update, each app that’s open now gets a minus sign when you perform the icon hold once, so you can then go through and kill them all quickly in one pass. It’s a huge improvement in terms of user experience, and one that my tired digits greatly appreciate.

Screen Orientation Lock

Lying in bed, trying to browse the web, and having to hold the iPhone and your head at just the right angle to prevent it from switching to landscape mode. Now that’s incredibly annoying. I’m sure you’ll agree if you’ve ever had to do it, or anything that involved trying to prevent the iPhone’s auto-orientation adjustment from happening.

A new button, located in the app switcher bar, fixes all that. It locks the iPhone in portrait-only mode, device-wide. No option to lock it in landscape mode, but that wouldn’t really work on the iPhone, which lacks landscape options for the home screen.

iPhone OS 4.0 was exciting to begin with, but to see that Apple’s actively interested in adding further refinements and improvements at this late stage is even better. Let’s hope these new features make the cut and see full implementation in the final release.

9 Responses to “New Features in iPhone OS 4 Beta 3”

  1. I discovered this: Press and hold on the language input method (in the on screen keyboard)… will have a selector to quickly select an input method… instead of tapping multiple times to rotate to the desired input method.

  2. R-Enemy

    @Matt – I had to power down and then power back on to get the email buttons back.

    I really hope Apple reviews all the basic things before launch. So many basics have had bugs, email, SMS, camera, keyboard.

  3. Anyone else notice they cannot create new emails? even when I open a received email there is no reply, forward, delete or move options… Also, when taking a photo for MMS the send button disappears. You have to close out of the messaging app and reopen it for send to appear. How does apple screw up these basic app functions the OS doesn’t look all that refined. In fact I am kind of bored and over it.

  4. Being able to sync files/folder to the iPhone/iPod Touch/iPad is something that I will find quite useful. However, I think the for devices like these – devices that have limited memory – being able to create/edit files that are stored in cloud services like Google Docs, Dropbox, etc is even more important. Perhaps Apple could improve the value porposition of MobileMe by adding the ability to access file from iDisk or grab files from a Mac using “Back to My Mac”.

  5. Cold Water

    Orientation lock is a feature fail.

    At least on the Nexus One, you just turn the phone (anti/counter)-clockwise for landscape — it stays in portrait when you turn it the other way. Complicated, inorite?

    • The orientation lock is for when you are lying horizontally in bed, and want to read a webpage, but the iphone is horizontal as well, so turns the page through 90 degrees so you cant read it again. Its a great feature.

  6. ditto

    Here’s hoping the file sharing will have a folder-sync feature like the photo syncing tab does.

    My list of iPhone-annoyances seems to be dwindling. But it makes two of my remaining frustrations that much more glaring:

    1- a useful lock screen
    2- more granular control of sound and power: when in a cradle phone should never sleep, should be able to set my phone to vibrate only during certain hours