The White iPhone 4

The White iPhone 4

Monday, June 21, 2010

iOS 4 Hands-on

So after checking iTunes sporadically for most of the morning, in the early afternoon I found that iOS 4 was ready for installation!  I plugged the 3GS into the USB port, and started the download.  Now you can read about my experience here.

First things first.  The download and installation went very smoothly.  While there have been some reports have suggested that there may be some problems with the update, mine worked like a dream.  I plugged it in, hit "Update," and away it went.  Once the actual update began, it couldn't have taken more than 10 minutes.

Once it was done, I slid to unlock and discovered my 3GS had become an entirely different, more impressive animal.  Here's a run-down of what really caught my eye.

1. Aesthetics

The first thing I noticed was how much smoother everything seemed to run.  I don't know how, but I think iOS 4, despite all its new features, may actually work more efficiently with the RAM and processor in the 3GS.  Maybe it's just my imagination, but it seems slicker.

Which brings me to the appearance.  As soon as it unlocked, the icons flew in from the four corners of the phone in that neat fashion we've seen on the iPad and in the iPhone 4 demos.  The background that was automatically selected for the home screen was initially the same as my lock screen, but I quickly figured out where to change that, and moved to one of the slick Apple-included backgrounds for the home screen.  (Go to Settings, and then select Wallpaper.  Pick the one you want, and it will ask you if you want to apply it to Home, Lock, or Both.)

I love the way the Home screen looks with the stone background I selected, and the 3D slab that the dock area now rests upon is a great touch.  My 3GS now feels so much more personal, but it hasn't lost any polish or snap.

2. Multi-Tasking

Multi-tasking, in a word, is spectacular.  Just double-tap, and instead of the old iPod widget in the middle of the screen, the 3D dock slab slides up, the screen above dims, and you see a row of open apps.  Slide to the right to see more, if you've got more than four open, or slide to the left to access the music controls.  Easy, elegant, Apple.

And it works almost perfectly!  I tried a bunch of different apps, and they all worked great.  I went from a Facebook photo album, to email, to phone, to and back to Facebook.  There I was, on the same picture I was looking at before!  The only problem I noticed was with a news app.  It went to the "Technology" tab, but didn't go back to the story I was actually in.  Fixes like this, though, are up to the app maker.  I'll bet we'll see a slew of app updates very soon to make multi-tasking work perfectly for all of them!

The best part is, my battery, which got charged up to 100% while I was doing the update, and the battery life doesn't seem to be worse at all after the update.  That means iOS 4 multi-tasking works its magic without sucking battery life like a blood-starved mosquito.

In short, this one's a big win.

3. Folders

How many Home screens do you have filled up?  How many apps are on there that you've forgotten were there because you never really look for more than the one you're thinking of?  If you're like me, then your Home screen is stuffed with apps, and you probably only use half of them because you forgot they were there.

Well, not any more.  With folders, your Home screens will drop down from 9 to 3, or 10 to 3.  Or 11 to 2 (if you just stuff every app you can into a folder, though I don't recommend that).  I literally went down from 9 to 3 screens.  It was nuts, and fun to do!

The interface is easy as hell.  Just make like you're deleting an app or moving it, then move it on top of another app.  Viola!  Folder created.  It's that easy.

The automatic naming works incredibly well also.  There were a few categories that were too broad for my purposes.  On page 3, for example, I decided to have a "games" page.  So I started dropping games into folders, and it named them appropriately, as "Games."  But I changed them to the specific genre immediately, and with great ease.  So now I have "Board Games," "Action Games," and "Simulators" all on one row of one page.  Three icons.  Total number of apps stored?  30.  Rock on.

After I put EVERYTHING, well, except the calendar, clock and camera into folders, it was very easy to find what I was looking for.  And they were all within the first 3 pages.  On page one, I put all my general interest information and communication apps.  The first folder, for example, is called "Social."  Inside is my MMS, Twitter, BeejiveIM, Facebook, YouTube, Blogpress, Bump, Foursquare and Contacts.  So when I want to zap a message to the universe in any format by any medium, it's all right there in the very first folder.

On page 2 is my business stuff, and on page 3 are my games.  Categorically sorted pages are now a reality.  Time to harvest obscene amounts of apps.  (Speaking of which, I just remembered to go get iBooks).

4. Conclusion

These are just my initial impressions.  I only have one email address, so the unified in-box, while cool, is something I didn't get to test drive.  As an overall package, this is bloody impressive stuff.  Apple really blew the doors off with this one.

For us white iPhone 4 holdouts, this update is a lifesaver.  We'll be able to enjoy 3GS quite a bit more while we wait because of this little download.  Granted, the 3G doesn't get multi-tasking, and the original iPhone doesn't get the update at all, but for a lot of us, this update is quite a deal.

If you haven't already gotten your hands on this update, I recommend doing it five minutes ago.  In fact, stop reading if you haven't done it.  Go do it now.  I'll wait.


Ok.  Now that you've got it and spent some time playing with it, we're all on the same page.  It's devastatingly awesome.  Mated to a white iPhone 4, it might just tear a hole in the universe and suck us all into a dimension of pure pocket-computing joy.  The sea has changed again, and iOS 4 is just the first wave.

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