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.

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