One of the advantages of being a developer is to have access to things before they are released to the general public in order to develop programs in relation to them. If you are an iPhone developer, you get early access to major revisions of the operating system in order to make sure your existing programs work and to develop programs utilizing the new features in the operating system. I upgraded my iPhone 3G this weekend to try out some of the new 4.0 features.
To be fair, the 4.0 OS is not completely finished. It is a beta release for developers, so it is expected to be buggy. It’s also not optimized, so certain actions aren’t as responsive as they should be or take longer. I am not going to cover any problems I have encountered because it is not fully baked yet. It is only fair to assume most of those will be fixed by the time it sees full release this summer. I do want to cover the major tent poles of the release and will touch on them, even if not yet implemented.
Multitasking Since this is the talk of the town, I had to lead off with it. Unfortunately, my iPhone is 3G, so I won’t be able to experience it with my current iPhone. I’ve read that it is not yet implemented in the 4.0 for the 3GS either, but I know it’s what everyone wants to know about first.
Wallpapers The 4.0 OS will be adding wallpapers to the app screens in addition to the lock screen, like the iPad does with OS 3.2. As cool as this feature is on the iPad, you cannot set wallpapers to either screen on the iPhone yet.
Folders I really like the folders. They hold less apps than the individual pages but makes it easier to group similar apps. When you tap the folder icon, the screen slides to expose the apps in it in a very clean manor. I can see myself keeping most of my apps in folders and my main apps to a page or two, making my iPhone experience a lot cleaner. Unfortunately, iTunes does not yet support folders, so when I sync my iPhone, the apps are moved back to the individual pages.
Game Center Game center is there and active, but since no apps support it yet, the most I could do is register for it and set a status. It’s great to see a game matching service come to the iPhone though.
Mail As a Gmail user, I like threaded topics. If you tap a mail message, it goes to a second screen like the first of messages belonging to that subject and you tap a second time to go to the specific message. It’s a system that seems to work well for reading through topics.
Podcast Descriptions When the iPhone is held straight up while listening to a podcast, the description for the podcast appears over the picture for the podcast or the video while the timeline appears at the top of the screen during playback.
These features are just the tip of the iceberg for iPhone 4.0, but they are the ones I have experienced so far. The iPhone 4.0 improvements are a leap forward for the iPhone and I look forward to seeing the completed iPhone 4.0 this summer to see all of the different features in the OS fully implemented.