by Al Sacco

Apple iPhone 3.0 Software Update Due Today: 10 Key Improvements

Jun 17, 20095 mins
Computers and PeripheralsConsumer ElectronicsData Center

Apple's latest iPhone and iPod touch software update, 3.0, is expected to hit the iTunes Store's virtual shelves for downloading today. Here's a list of the top ten new features users will find.

Just last week, Apple officially announced its latest addition to the iPhone product line, the iPhone 3G S, along with a brand new operating system (OS) software update for older iPhone and iPod touch devices, iPhone 3.0.

The iPhone 3G S won’t be available until this Friday, and you’ll have to be crafty if you hope to snag one on launch day, but the iPhone and iPod touch software update will be ripe for the picking later today, according to Apple, and there ought to be plenty of OS goodness to go around. iPhone 3.0 is free to iPhone users, but iPod touch owners will have to drop $9.95 for the software.

Apple iPhone 3.0 Software Update logo
Apple iPhone 3.0 Software Update

Here’s a break down of the top 10 features and enhancements that iPhone and iPod touch users will see in iPhone 3.0

And for those considering picking up a new iPhone 3G S, you should scan the following slide show before making any decisions:

“Forget iPhone 3G S: Eight Great New iPhone Alternatives.”

10) Shake to Shuffle

While listening to iTunes music on your iPhone 3.0-equipped iPhone or iPod touch, you’ll be able to simply shake your device lightly to “shuffle” to a different song in your music library.

picture of iPhone 3.0 Shake to Shuffle Icon
iPhone 3.0 Shake to Shuffle Icon

The feature’s clearly nothing revolutionary, but it does mean you don’t have to fiddle around with your iPhone or iPod’s screen to skip over songs you don’t particularly like or to suit your mood.

9) Improved Parental Controls

The current iPhone software build features a number of very basic security features for parents, but iPhone 3.0 will address what content younger or impressionable viewers can access. For example, parents will be able to block R-rated video content, as well as questionable music and applications.

8) Spotlight Search

Macintosh users are likely familiar with the Spotlight Search feature built into the Mac OS X software, which lets you make system-wide searches instead of just search individual applications or services.

iPhone and iPod touch users are about to get a very similar feature. iPhone Spotlight “searches all of your contacts, email, calendars, and notes, as well as everything in your iPod,” according to Apple.

7) Stereo Bluetooth

Just last week, I was complaining about the iPhone 3G’s lack of stereo Bluetooth, when my iPhone didn’t work along with an in-car FM transmitter I was reviewing. (Every other device I employed worked just fine.)

picture of iPhone 3.0 Stereo Bluetooth Icon
iPhone 3.0 Stereo Bluetooth Icon

Well, that’s about to change. iPhone 3.0 brings new stereo Bluetooth support to the iPhone and iPod touch, so users will be able to, say, listen to their iTunes music collections via wireless Bluetooth headphones and in-car systems.

6) MMS Support…Sort Of

U.S. iPhone users on AT&T will have to wait until “late summer” to access the feature, according to the carrier, but iPhone 3.0 will support MMS messages. That means iPhone owners will now–finally-be able send video, photos, audio, and contact info in SMS-text-like messages.

You’ll also be able to take and send both pictures and videos directly from the Messages application.

It sure would be nice to have access to this cool new feature immediately, but AT&T–not Apple–is to blame on that front.

5) Find My iPhone and Remote Wipe (MobileMe)

iPhone and iPod touch owners who employ Apple’s MobileMe service will get a brand new option called “Find My iPhone,” which lets you pinpoint the whereabouts of your device at any given time. This could come in handy: if you misplace your handheld, you can order your iPhone or iPod to sound an “alarm” until you’ve found it. Or if the gadget is not hiding under the kitchen counter clutter, you can use the service to locate a lost or stolen Apple handheld.

The new MobileMe-based service also lets you remotely wipe your device, if need be.

This all sounds fine and good, but I’ve got to say, I’m curious about what privacy/security issues may come of this in the future.

4) iPhone Tethering

Once again, U.S. iPhone users get the short end of AT&T’s stick here, but iPhone 3.0 will finally support tethering. Thanks–or no thanks–to AT&T, it won’t be available in the U.S. immediately, but tethering enables you to utilize your iPhone’s cellular or Wi-Fi connection to give your laptop Web access.

iPhone 3.0 devices will be able to “tether” to laptops via USB cable or Bluetooth, Apple says–just not immediately in the States.

3) Buy iTunes Movies, TV Shows, Audiobooks from iPhone, iPod

iPhone 3.0 will let you purchase films, television episodes and audiobooks directly from your iPhone or iPod. In the past, you could purchase music via iPhone, but that was about it.

Now you can pick up the latest 30 Rock episode or the new Eastwood flick without using your computer, though you’ll need a Wi-Fi connection for downloads that exceed 10MB.

2) Landscape Keyboard

The iPhone and iPod touch will get a native landscape keyboard in iPhone 3.0. That means you’ll be able to tilt your device horizontally at any point–assuming a keyboard option is available–and type out messages or other text on a larger keyboard.

The feature has been on iPhone users’ most wanted lists for sometime, and it will be particularly valuable to folks with larger hands or fingers.

image of iPhone 3.0 Portrait and Landscape Keyboards
iPhone 3.0 Portrait and Landscape Keyboards

1) Cut, Copy and Paste

Finally. Finally. Finally, the iPhone will get one of the most basic smartphone features it probably should have had from the get-go: A cut, copy and paste function.

That means you’ll soon be able to highlight text, copy to a clipboard, cut it and then paste somewhere else. The lack of copy and paste has bothered me intensely since I first got my iPhone 3G, and frankly, it’s about time Apple got its act together. Still, I’m thrilled to see the new feature, and I know I’m not alone.

For additional information on the iPhone update, pop on over to Apple’s site. And iPod touch users seeking more details on iPhone 3.0 can visit the company’s iPod touch upgrade page.