iPhone OS 3.0: Apple picks up the ball

Back in October I suggested that Apple was dropping the ball with iPhone features and falling woefully behind the competition. Frankly I was getting a bit fed up with a phone that, while beautifully designed, lacked basic functionality like copy and paste.

Most cheery, then, to read about Version 3.0 of the iPhone OS – due around June/July – which addresses a good chunk of my October wish list:

  • Text selection – check
  • Cut/copy/paste – check
  • Flash – well you can’t have everything
  • To Do lists – hmm, doesn’t look like it at this stage
  • Syncable notes – check
  • MMS – check

I’m particularly pleased by the way they seem to have implemented my #1 want: text selection and cut/copy/paste. It isn’t easy selecting tiny text with a touch screen. Apple’s solution of letting you manually drag the start and end points of the selection until you get it right seems like a brilliant idea. They’ve obviously spent a lot of time thinking about this. It also lets you copy not just text, but HTML and images too. I can breathe a big sigh of relief now. (Shake-to-undo is also a nice touch.)

In addition, Apple has sneaked quite a few extra features in there, some of which sound very useful:

  • Autofill for Web forms – Yes!! No more trying to remember my 10-random-character AdSense password when I’m in the sticks!
  • Turn-by-turn GPS capability, which many said would never come to the iPhone for licensing reasons (Apple has got round this by not including it in the Maps application – other apps can use turn-by-turn but they can’t use Google Maps to do it).
  • Landscape keyboard in practically all apps – Should have been there all along, but great to see it.
  • Phone-wide search – This is great and sorely needed. I like the way they’ve implemented it too (swipe right on the first Home screen). I hope there’s a Spotlight API that allows 3rd-party apps to make their data searchable.
  • Voice memos look nicely done, with typical Apple polish and ease-of-use.

Stuff I’m not so bothered about:

  • Push notifications – Frankly I’d rather check for new stuff when I want to, without my phone bugging me every 10 minutes.
  • Stereo Bluetooth headset support – Doesn’t do much for me personally, but I know this is a must-have for some.

Now, yes, it’s true that many of these features should have been there a year ago, and Apple is merely catching up with the competition. On the other hand, I’d rather wait and have a feature done right than have some half-arsed attempt that’s a nightmare to use (I’m looking at you, Windows Mobile!).

There are some nice hands-on galleries of the new iPhone OS 3.0 features over at:

Can’t wait! :)

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