The latest revision of the iPhone software – version 2.2 – hit the streets a couple of days ago. But does it hit the spot?
Well, yes and no. Street View is certainly fun:
…and walking/transit directions could be useful if you live in a city (I don’t). Other Maps enhancements aren’t revolutionary, but they’re useful nonetheless. After you drop a pin, tapping the pin reveals the address at that point:
You can also email a URL of a location by tapping the Share Location button on the location’s Info screen.
Safari much improved
There’s been one UI tweak to Safari. Whereas you previously clicked a magnifying glass icon to bring up the Google search box, a small search box is now permanently embedded in the top bar, like its desktop cousin:
I’m not sure why Apple did this. It doesn’t save any taps compared to the old UI – you still need to tap the search box to start entering text – and it reduces the URL bar to a size that is, frankly, useless in portrait mode at least. Not quite sure of the logic here, guys.
The other major change is that you can now subscribe to – and download – podcasts right from your iPhone, rather than having to go through iTunes. I’m not sure I’ll use this feature much, as generally I find it easier to find and subscribe to podcasts on my Mac anyway, but I can see why they added the feature – it’s a bit daft having an Internet device that can play podcasts, but can’t download them.
Other small changes
Aside from these biggish changes, there’s the odd incremental change, like the ability to turn off the system-wide auto-correct feature in the Keyboard preferences:
Personally I find auto-correct pretty much essential on the iPhone’s tiny keyboard, but still, I guess it’s good to be able to turn it off if it bugs you.
A nice improvement is that you can now press the Home button when on any Home screen but the first, and you’re instantly taken to the first Home screen (where most people have their most-used apps). This is really handy if you have 5 or more Home screens full of apps.
Overall, the update is useful – especially the Safari fixes – but I’m still wanting features like text selection, cut/copy/paste, and syncable notes, none of which have made it into the 2.2 release. And as this article points out, Apple still has much work to do feature-wise if the iPhone is going to compete with other smartphones in the business arena. I also agree with the article: this update should have been called version 2.1.1, not 2.2.
That said, I’m sure the Apple worker bees are busily working on tons of exciting new iPhone features as I write, and I can’t wait to see what the next update brings.