Everyone knows about the new iOS that has just been released. The incredible hype surrounding it has made iOS 4 one of the most-anticipated Apple operating systems, but are all of those features as fantastic, as magical as they are made out? I’ll go into a brief but detailed analysis of the major features touted in iOS 4, and see whether they are as effective as the rumors say. As an iPod Touch user, I don’t have access to features involving the camera or GPS functionality, but the features I do have are mind blowing.
I’ll begin with the most wanted feature for the iPhone: Multitasking. Switching from one app to the next and not having to restart each time is a boon to an employee’s production. Is it the praiseworthy tool it’s expected to be? There are a few caveats to cover: First, the apps themselves must be updated to support multitasking. Unless they’re updated, the applications will just restart when you switch to them. As yet, I only have two or three applications that have updated to support multitasking. Also, having six to seven apps running simultaneously can slow down the device (at least on third-gen devices). Unfortunately, multitasking is not supported on earlier releases of iPhone and iPod touch (see Will Your iPhone or touch run iOS 4?). Nonetheless, Multitasking will be a powerful tool when those go-to apps are updated.
Folders are yet another perfect addition for app-fanatics. For those of us who have filled their eleven home screens and yearn for more, folders provide a perfect solution. I am one such person, and folders have already freed up significant space on my device. I still have to fill up those remaining gigabytes with apps, and now I can do it in an easy, stylish manner. Folder opening animations look incredibly attractive, and creating one couldn’t be easier; dragging two apps on top of each other does the job. My only complaint is that you can’t change the background of the folder itself, just the home screen. This leads to my next feature…
Home screen wallpapers were another highly-requested feature in the new OS. It performs almost exactly as Steve Jobs demonstrated at his Keynote, but there is an additional modification that didn’t show up there. All of the photos that have been synced to your device must be re-optimized for the small screen. If the step is not taken, the pictures turn into gigantic, pixelated masses. Obviously, this can put a damper on an otherwise perfect wallpaper. When the photos are optimized, however, the feature works flawlessly. Once again, Apple has nailed it.
The more minor features (at least, for users) are useful as well. Creating playlists on the device itself used to be a task for third-party apps (such as Amp) only. Those only would be available from within the app, and weren’t accessible from the music library. This new ability will make plenty of users happy. The Spell-checker is similar to the one from the previous OS, and not the greatest improvement. Wireless keyboard support sounds cool, but might look a little awkward when a user types into a huge keyboard for a tiny device. Mail’s greatest improvement (in my humble opinion) is grouping all messages with the same subject into a small “pseudo-mailbox” that can be accessed to find all related messages at once. iBooks looks like a promising competitor to the Kindle; the style and selection are incredible. Even the settings have added some features, such as a new iPod airplane mode.
While this may have seemed detailed, I guarantee that this is only the surface of what the new iOS can accomplish. Clearly, a bright new horizon is now within reach.