iOS 4 impressions

posted by Jeff | Monday, June 21, 2010, 8:43 PM | comments: 0

Snagged the new operating system for the iPhone today. I guess I was expecting more as a major version number change, but honestly it feels mostly like an incremental upgrade.

First, I need to bitch. They've hard-wired the double-tap of the home button to a mostly useless task manager of sorts. That sucks, because you could previously set it to do more useful things, like load up the camera. Jerks. Having one-button access to the camera was infinitely more useful.

Most of the changes are largely cosmetic. There are new ways to organize stuff, and you can lock the orientation to portrait mode (I can't believe that was ever a requested feature). Generally, there's just not anything revolutionary, as we had previously come to expect. I suspect that the new whole version number is rooted in the fact that it does quasi-multi-tasking now, so you can do VOIP and Pandora, but those were mostly edge cases to begin with.

It's not really multi-tasking in the true sense of the word, and you don't need it on a phone anyway. They should have called it, "selective background threading" or something. Seriously, do people not remember all of the early smart phones with two-hour battery life because of countless crap that would run all of the time? I understand there are certain Android apps that do this even today, that you have to be careful with. Selective background threads and proper notification services were the right thing to do though, so yay for Apple doing that.

The mail app was heavily overhauled, and that's a plus. That you can do multiple Exchange accounts in particular is a huge win. Personally, I don't have a lot of use for that because I don't check work e-mail with it (our security policy requires a passcode, which is annoying), but it generally feels more responsive overall with Gmail. The calendar syncing seems faster too.

I'm a little underwhelmed, but at least I can change my wallpaper now. :) I guess we're spoiled because we've come to expect these big quantum shifts with each new version. I wonder if the Apple case for the new shiny will continue to hold as Android phones gain market share, and Windows Phone takes an entirely different direction for UI. Now is not the time for Apple to get complacent if they want to continue on their current growth curve.


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