iPhone OS 4.0 in depth walkthrough

With the release of the iPhone OS 4.0 beta mere hours ago, many are keen to get their hands on a copy. Unfortunately, not everybody that wants to can do so due to a number of reasons, but thankfully, some developers are willing to provide screenshots of all the new features and additions. We've obtained a bunch of said screenshots, and will annotate them as appropriate below, showing off some of the things you can expect from your iPhone come the middle of the year.

Multitasking:

The big one is, of course, multitasking. It isn't a new feature by any stretch of the imagination but it's one that has been a long time coming to the iPhone OS. Multitasking in iPhone OS 4.0 works by double-tapping the Home button, which will then bring up a view of the currently running apps. You can leave as many as you want open for as long as you want yet (we haven't seen any battery life tests yet so it's hard to tell how it'll affect performance), though you can close them by holding your finger over a currently running one. This'll bring up a red icon to close whichever one you've chosen, stopping it from running altogether.

So, how well does it work? Not bad. It's not fantastic, but not bad. It can be pretty hard to navigate once you have a bunch of applications running, though currently, with third-party apps, it works more like an app switcher. This will be remedied once developers have had some time to work on their software, but in the mean time, it's not reaching its full potential (it's only beta one, after all). There are a couple screenshots in the gallery to help illustrate things a bit better, for those still confused.

Folders:

This one doesn't take much explaining. Interestingly, a lot of people had issues creating a Folder for the first time – there isn't any indicator that you can do it aside from being told by somebody else that you can – which goes against Apple's trend of making things as usable as can be. In order to set a Folder up, you tap and hold an app until they're in editing mode (that is, you can move them around and delete them), then drag an app on top of another one. That'll set them up into a new group which can then be renamed and organized as you see fit. There's a limit of 12 apps per Folder, so if you have a ton of a certain type of application (such as games), we expect you'll have to create numbered folders as appropriate. Aside from the limit, it works well. It's animated smoothly, looks nice, and functions as advertised, which is all you can ask of it, really. Again, there are screenshots in the gallery.

Game Center:

The Game Center app is already included with beta one though it runs in a sandbox mode which obviously doesn't have all the functionality, so we can't really comment on how well it goes just yet. Once a number of apps support it, we'll be able to play around with it and test out how it performs and works as a platform. Interestingly, Apple's service goes against third party ones already created, such as Plus+ from ngmoco, though of course, they all have slightly different features catering for different needs.

Camera:

The camera application has undergone a couple of changes, most importantly being the fact that it now features a 5x zoom (though it's only software based, of course). It works pretty much as one would expect, with the highest level of zoom looking not particularly great. There are screenshots of this in action in the gallery, though keep in mind that they're not usually that blurry. In addition to the camera zoom, you can now rotate photos with ease within the Camera or Photos applications, which is a small but welcome feature. As Apple have introduced a camera zoom in this OS, it provides a pretty good suggestion that the next iteration of the iPhone will have a hardware zoom; having it implemented in software is nice and all, but it just doesn't compare.

Location:

The Maps application has only very, very slightly changed, in that it has one different icon and it now features the location icon in the status bar, signaling that it has accessed the user's location within the last 24 hours. This is reflected in the Location Services view, under General in the Settings app, where it features a list of applications that utilize location framework and whether or not they have accessed the feature recently. Aside from that, not much has changed – however, it's worth pointing out that the GPS managed to pinpoint our phone's location much quicker and with greater accuracy than before. Whether this was just a one-off or Apple has made improvements has yet to be seen, so remain skeptical.

Various other changes:

The entire operating system is littered with small, but appreciated, new features or changes. One such change is that a user can now easily use an alphanumeric password of greater length, instead of being stuck with a 4-digit pin code. This obviously increases security and is just a good feature to have around in general.

The Calculator app has seen a new icon for whatever reason (some say it's so you don't confuse it with a Folder), and now the Messages app has a character counter so you can see how many more characters you can fit into an SMS before you run out. Mail has, of course, been given a unified inbox as well as threaded emails which will definitely help those who do a lot of emailing on their device. Safari will offer you suggestions when using the embedded search bar, much like the iPad does, in addition to autocompleting based on bookmarks and history when typing in the URL bar.

YouTube, Stocks, the Calculator, Contacts and Weather all seem exactly the same to the previous versions, though they're definitely open to changes before the final version of the OS. The iPod app on the iPhone has undergone small changes which can be seen in the gallery, though nothing particularly groundbreaking (you can finally create your own playlist directly within the app, a feature which should really have been in there from day one). It's also worth pointing out that the iPhone will now be able to support Bluetooth keyboards, with pretty much an identical implementation to the iPad.

The Notes application can now be synced over the air with MobileMe, whereas previously it would require a USB connection; it works well enough and hasn't gone wrong so far.

Beta one of the iPhone OS 4.0 is relatively stable but still has a couple of issues here and there, with two application crashes so far and a tiny bit of lag when scrolling through a table view, plus the inability to change the Home and Lock screen wallpapers. Never-the-less, it's much nicer than iPhone OS 3.0 beta 1, and for that, we are thankful. Beta two will hopefully address these issues, but for now, all works well.

Overall, it's a nice upgrade with some cool features (at the moment it just feels like Apple's filling in the gaps), but the real goodness will come once developers have had some time to get to know it, and pump out some updates to their software. Apple has included a ton of new, very useful APIs for those very people, who are already hard at working coding up the next iterations of their apps. If you ARE a developer for the iPhone, you will be pleased to know that both GCD and blocks have been implemented in this iteration of the OS, which will greatly help with threading and performance in general. If there are any questions you have, leave them in the comments and we'll do our best to get them answered.

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Sweet, I'll be sticking with 3.x until next year then! Backgrounder/Categories already give me all the features 4.0 will give the 3G.

I am going to be blunt but ... nice to see OS4.0 catching up with Android

"The Calculator app has seen a new icon"... Oh, no, I see Apple is really cutting edge now.

hmm, no apple's claims about yet another revolution? on inventing multitasking, folders and other outdated features? :lol:

There was once a company who had the most popular phone on the market that everyone adored. The Manufacturer knowing this to be true continued to release incremental updates milking their loyal customers while the competition continued to innovate and create superior product. After awhile the consumers caught wind and started to drift toward the competition causing the phone to lose all popularity and appeal. This phone was known as the RAZR and the iPhone seems to be headed on that same course with it's inability to evolve.

This isn't an evolution? Never mind that this is an OS for phones that are a year old or more. We haven't seen what the new iPhone will bring when it is announced.

Smigit said,
This isn't an evolution? Never mind that this is an OS for phones that are a year old or more. We haven't seen what the new iPhone will bring when it is announced.

iPhone 4.0 will barely put the iPhone up to par with the phones that are out right this minute so as time progresses the inferiority of the iPhone will be more and more apparent. For one, it lacks turn by turn navigation, it's not customizable, lacks true multitasking, cannot print out of the box, has no widgets, and these are all things (minus printing) other OS' like Android have. The lack of features will truly be apparent on the iPad because all that real estate will go to waste with just a bunch of icons on the screen. I'm a 3GS Owner and I love the device but when I see the Droid and the Nexus I can see how behind in times the iPhone really is. People were expecting Apple to revolutionize the industry like they did with the first iPhone but instead they didn't take the competition seriously and instead made another incremental update.

Turn by turn can be added with an app or whatever if you need it. Its definetly a nice to have I'll grant that but.

Customization doesn't bother me and I'm going to guess a lot of users. To be honest I'm happy with it out of the box. I guess I can see why people want it but.

Printing - I couldn't care less about that tbh and I doubt its that high a demand a feature. Anyway, I thought that is one of the features they listed unless I missread it.

True Multitasking - They have an implementation now that will suffice for most. Not like all the competition has "true multitasking" *looks at WM7*

Anyway, Apple has lead the ways in other areas. Where others may be more technically capable Apple has made far more of an inroad in regards to getting Application developers onto the device well before other phone manufacturers did it remotely well and continue to have the best App store.

Theres other things they are doing better. Market segmentation is a big one and it's really proving to be a huge issue for Google still. Ohh and Palm isn't even shipping their device to that many places so they can have the greatest OS ever for all I care but if it's not available on a store shelf in my country (Australia) then I don't really care.

I'm not trying to defend Apple here religiously. Some of these changes should have happened long ago but to say they aren't evolutions IMHO is a bit unfair. If anything they've addressed some of the most demanded features by iPhone users. Its not a phone that will suit everyone, thats fine and thats why there is competition. I still think if you compare the original iPhone to the one three years later you will find the device has drastically improved.

It's also likely they will add more in a 4.1 or whatever when they ship the 4th gen phone.

Edited by Smigit, Apr 9 2010, 5:34am :

It has had turn-by-turn navigation for almost a year.
It has true multitasking now.
Define customisable.
What do you want widgets for?

PureLegend said,
It has had turn-by-turn navigation for almost a year.
Probably wants some text to speech function which i think it lacks.

As for widgets, I dont really want them either. I would like some more info to be displayed on the home/lock screen such as unread emails and other notifications but a full blown widget system I can do without.

I've never seen much use in widgets if my apps give me the same data anyway.

cybertimber2008 said,
Why has everyone not mentioned the background changing? Or is it a new default one??

Because every phone has had it for the past 8 years...it's not a feature, it's a fix.

Really excited about it...addresses pretty much all my concerns with the OS to date...key ones for me being:
- Multitasking
- Unified inbox
- Multiple Exchange accounts
- app organisation (addressed with folders)
- to a lesser extent, games using multiple networks. Hopefully most port over to Apples one

Only thing I really want to see now is a change to notifications so I can "ignore" them in addition to dismiss and view. Some of them I want to look at later so it'd be nice if I could hide them from view but retrieve them at a later date. As it is they are a bit obtrusive.

TonyLock said,
What, no disk mode?

Yeah, good point. I want disk mode! It was meant to come in 3.2 but I don't think that happened.

People buy a product that works with the features expected. Than the company that makes the software and hardware gives free updates to older and newer hardware, which are basically NEW FEATURES FOR FREE. Than people bash the company for delivering it for FREE with some features they otherwise would not get anyway...
I think there's a flood of spoiled users that must get some psychological treatment.

Luis Mazza said,
People buy a product that works with the features expected. Than the company that makes the software and hardware gives free updates to older and newer hardware, which are basically NEW FEATURES FOR FREE. Than people bash the company for delivering it for FREE with some features they otherwise would not get anyway...
I think there's a flood of spoiled users that must get some psychological treatment.

Welcome to competition.

chAos972 said,

Welcome to competition.

Yeah, this is because of competition. But anyway, old customers with old hardware are not good customers.

Luis Mazza said,

Yeah, this is because of competition. But anyway, old customers with old hardware are not good customers.

I don't necessarily agree. Old customers with old hardware are still buying apps and songs via iTunes. I know theres a view that Apple is a hardware company but with the iTunes and App stores respectively they certainly have some other revenues to make money without selling new hardware as often.

You could argue people not buying new hardware at least are staying with Apple. The sort of customer that buys new devices every 6 to 12 months is also probably the sort of customer to jump around as the market changes in many cases. At least the guys with old devices are still in the Apple ecosystem.

Edited by Smigit, Apr 9 2010, 2:43am :

Green Canaries said,
Let me get this right (as I seem to have missed something) we 3G owners will NOT get multi-tasking?

Correct. Only the iPhone 3GS and the iPod Touch 3rd Generation will get multitasking.

thealexweb said,
These aren't really groundbreaking features, other mobile OSs have had most of this for some time.

Exactly right. These aren't "new features", they're bug fixes. As much as I'm happy to finally get multitasking, folders, playlists, and backgrounds.. It's a "yay they finally fixed the broken stuff" happiness.

djdanster said,
Am i the only person that thinks the new dock background looks fugly?

Mm, I'm not much of a fan of it. Interesting that they went from reflecting dock from the old iPod touch, to the iPhone style dock, then back to this. Wonder if it'll stick this time around.

Tamilboy86 said,
Hope there will be some anti-shake and backlight function in the cam app..

I use a third-party one just for anti-shake. Good feature, but I can see why a lot of people wouldn't like it.

I think the reason the older one's dont is due to the CPU. The iPhone 3G and the 2nd Generation iPod Touch (and the 8GB 3rd generation) have the older CPU. The iPhone 3GS and iPod Touch 3rd Generation have the faster CPU, thus making multitasking easier for the hardware. I would assume it's half split between making users upgrade if they want the new features as well as keeping the OS as fast as possible

Kayle12 said,
I think the reason the older one's dont is due to the CPU. The iPhone 3G and the 2nd Generation iPod Touch (and the 8GB 3rd generation) have the older CPU. The iPhone 3GS and iPod Touch 3rd Generation have the faster CPU, thus making multitasking easier for the hardware. I would assume it's half split between making users upgrade if they want the new features as well as keeping the OS as fast as possible
The reason is actually because there's very little free RAM on the first two iPhones. Barely enough for one application, not to mention more than one.

LiGhTfast said,
Hardly exciting stuff, every other phone comes with this sort of stuff

I think thats the point though. When BMW bring out a new car i get excited and i am interested in the product. I don't expect Audi drivers to care or to get excited as they prefer those cars. Like this announcement i am excited as i use an iPhone, if blackberry was to annouce they were adding a feature i wouldn't care as i don't own one.

neufuse said,
is it me or does the UI seem to be getting more and more cramped?

It's not just you. I see simplicity as one of the big advantages of the iPhone OS, so I hope it doesn't become too complicated.

Same here. After videos and screenshots, I think it's becoming 'too much' compared to what it used to be.

And I'm not entirely sold in the multitasking. I prefer android's notification thingy

now the Messages app has a character counter so you can see how many more characters you can fit into an SMS before you run out

Are you SERIOUS? They haven't had that for 5 years? *facepalm*

andrewbares said,

Are you SERIOUS? They haven't had that for 5 years? *facepalm*


Because character limits don't really matter. If a message exceeds the character limit on an iPhone, it just gets split into two messages. If another iPhone is receiving the message, it just appears as one message.

Elliott said,

Because character limits don't really matter. If a message exceeds the character limit on an iPhone, it just gets split into two messages. If another iPhone is receiving the message, it just appears as one message.

But when you send it to other people, it gets broken up and sent as 2 messages. If I'm one character over, I don't want to make someone recieve a second text that simply contains "."

If your reasoning is true, and they don't really matter, then why did they include it in their update? That's like how iPad fans said multitasking doesn't matter, and they DON'T want to multitask, and then Apple releases it in their new iOS 4. There's a need for it, even if you personally don't need it, yourself.

Elliott said,

Because character limits don't really matter. If a message exceeds the character limit on an iPhone, it just gets split into two messages. If another iPhone is receiving the message, it just appears as one message.

Some of the crappier carriers freak out when you send an SMS to them like this... i'm glad they are adding it but I agree that it shouldn't even need to exist.

andrewbares said,

Are you SERIOUS? They haven't had that for 5 years? *facepalm*

Yeah it sucks a bit. You can get character count if its jailbroken but I can't believe apple didnt put this in earlier. Getting charged another 10p per message just becuase you put a full stop in is annoying.

kraized said,
I'm waiting for the 4th Gen iPhone.

It will probably have the lock feature that the iPad has. Hope they do something more relevant.

I'm an iPhone 3G user. I've always been very satisfied, but this update doesn't interest me one bit. I think I'll be switching to Win 7 Phone Series.

Pajter said,
I'm an iPhone 3G user. I've always been very satisfied, but this update doesn't interest me one bit. I think I'll be switching to Win 7 Phone Series.

Maybe because the iPhone 3G doesn't get the multitasking?

Pajter said,
I'm an iPhone 3G user. I've always been very satisfied, but this update doesn't interest me one bit. I think I'll be switching to Win 7 Phone Series.

This. +1. Definitely. I'm in the same boat.

kraized said,

Maybe because the iPhone 3G doesn't get the multitasking?

Of course, it's certainly capable of doing so, but Apple once again decides to cripple older hardware.

kraized said,

Maybe because the iPhone 3G doesn't get the multitasking?

Or... Maybe the more logical reason why... Because we 3G users see past multitasking as a feature because it isn't one for us, and we see 4.0 for everything except multitasking and it's just another 3.0. Face it, 3.0 brought some nice changes, but it didn't bring anything great that was keeping the wow factor alive. No UI refresh or anything, it just refreshed the OS. 4.0 is the same as 3.0 to 3G users, because the biggest change was multitasking and we won't get it, so all those small changes are the only ones we are going to see.

Windows Phone 7 has one thing that iPhone OS 4.0 doesn't have. A true wow factor. The multi-touch and animations and complete new developer tools are what makes it so special, even the Zune HD can't compete because it's has a very messy OS which makes it hard to develop for, it isn't what Windows Phone 7 is.

Electric Jolt said,
Windows Phone 7 has one thing that iPhone OS 4.0 doesn't have. A true wow factor. The multi-touch and animations and complete new developer tools are what makes it so special, even the Zune HD can't compete because it's has a very messy OS which makes it hard to develop for, it isn't what Windows Phone 7 is.

I have to say, I haven't seen the "wow" factor from WP7S that everybody else is feeling around here. Then again, I find the Metro UI incredibly ugly and poorly designed.
gazebee_ said,

Of course, it's certainly capable of doing so, but Apple once again decides to cripple older hardware.


And WP7S won't even run on an HTC HD2, which meets (and exceeds) all its required specs, because it has 5 buttons instead of 3. So tell me: is Apple at least giving iPhone 3G owners iPhone OS 4, albeit without multitasking, worse?

Edited by Elliott, Apr 8 2010, 11:44pm :

Pajter said,
I'm an iPhone 3G user. I've always been very satisfied, but this update doesn't interest me one bit. I think I'll be switching to Win 7 Phone Series.

So how is your situation any different than Windows Phone 7 not support any existing Windows Mobile 6 device? Microsoft hardly ever permits Phone OS upgrades for major version releases.

Elliott said,

I have to say, I haven't seen the "wow" factor from WP7S that everybody else is feeling around here. Then again, I find the Metro UI incredibly ugly and poorly designed.

And WP7S won't even run on an HTC HD2, which meets (and exceeds) all its required specs, because it has 5 buttons instead of 3. So tell me: is Apple at least giving iPhone 3G owners iPhone OS 4, albeit without multitasking, worse?

Then watch more demos of WP7, it's actually something new. Hubs, live tiles, slick interface, etc. If you like a spreadsheet layout of apps, then I guess that's just you.

And the HD2 is a different type of phone. Microsoft completely rewrote Windows Mobile with version 7, and is in no way related to the old versions. The iPhone OS 4 is an UPDATE, with very little changes. Brand new operating system = new phones. Update = update, which is for all old phones.

gazebee_ said,

Of course, it's certainly capable of doing so, but Apple once again decides to cripple older hardware.

No... it's not. It only has 128mb of Ram and currently the most you can get free in 3.0 is around 40/50mb. Once an app is loaded into there's even less free. Who knows how much memory 4.0 by itself is going to take up. I'm sure you'll point out backgrounder but anyone who's actually bothered to use it knows that it's dirt slow.

and come on, be serious. How many other smartphones have you had over the years that have even had ONE major os upgrade with major new features like 3.0 had and 4.0 will have (excluding multitasking)

andrewbares said,

Then watch more demos of WP7, it's actually something new. Hubs, live tiles, slick interface, etc. If you like a spreadsheet layout of apps, then I guess that's just you.

Slick interface is very subjective. I happen to think that pretty fonts, while great, don't make a whole user interface. As for hubs: fancy apps of a different name. I assume the one plus is that developers can tie into them (or am I wrong there?), which is kinda neat. Live tiles are interesting, and I do wish that Apple would do a similar notification system, but they're not groundbreaking.

andrewbares said,

And the HD2 is a different type of phone. Microsoft completely rewrote Windows Mobile with version 7, and is in no way related to the old versions. The iPhone OS 4 is an UPDATE, with very little changes. Brand new operating system = new phones. Update = update, which is for all old phones.

So, because a phone has 5 buttons, Microsoft's "completely new OS" can't run on it? Apple rewrote OS X from the ground up. Guess what? It ran on most of the same machines that ran on OS 9. And yet, here we are, talking about how Apple requiring certain hardware for ONE feature is being restrictive.

Edited by Elliott, Apr 9 2010, 12:07am :

andrewbares said,
Brand new operating system = new phones. Update = update, which is for all old phones.

First of all, the new OS brings lots of features, it's no "small update".
Second, an iPhone is a really small computer. 3 years old iPhones were MEANT to be not supported anymore after a big OS update. Its hardware is obsolete now. Not enough memory, not enough processing power, not enough GPU power. It's exactly as if Microsoft released a brand new Windows like Windows 7 and stopped supporting more than 3 years old computers. It was MEANT to happen.

Also, how many companies support their phones for 3 years ? Maybe none or maybe 5%? Well, Apple did, so people should at least recognize the work done by them.

Obviously people with iPhone 3G and the regular iPhone and the first iPod won't agree with this change, but they would have expressed their angriness one day or another. Apple knows this (they are one of the few people who knows this, yeah, others whine) so they won't care at all and it's PERFECT like this. It happens with iPhone OS 4.0, just too bad for them.

If I were a company, I would certainly have done the same moves they just did and most of you would have also, but just won't admit it. Shame.

The difference here is that the iPhone 3G is still being produced and sold. I have a iPhone 3G that my company purchased for me just 2 months ago. It's not a "3 years old iPhone" it's a brand new iPhone, and it's already getting locked out of features.

In the end though I really don't care about the lack of multitasking all that much. What I'm much more concerned about is the new developer agreement that locks out frameworks like Monotouch, XnaTouch, Unity, Flash and the like. That's just bad business...

It doesn't have copy and paste which the iPhone now has

Electric Jolt said,

Or... Maybe the more logical reason why... Because we 3G users see past multitasking as a feature because it isn't one for us, and we see 4.0 for everything except multitasking and it's just another 3.0. Face it, 3.0 brought some nice changes, but it didn't bring anything great that was keeping the wow factor alive. No UI refresh or anything, it just refreshed the OS. 4.0 is the same as 3.0 to 3G users, because the biggest change was multitasking and we won't get it, so all those small changes are the only ones we are going to see.

Windows Phone 7 has one thing that iPhone OS 4.0 doesn't have. A true wow factor. The multi-touch and animations and complete new developer tools are what makes it so special, even the Zune HD can't compete because it's has a very messy OS which makes it hard to develop for, it isn't what Windows Phone 7 is.

argentum76 said,
It doesn't have copy and paste which the iPhone now has

You've been living in the past then because Microsoft said they will be adding it in soon:

Previously we have heard many mixed messages regarding Copy and Paste in Windows Phone 7. Some member have been pretty strident about the lack of need for the technology, feeling their context sensitive one-click system was more than enough for most people.

At a DedvDays presentation in the Hague however program group manager Charlie Kindel acknowledged the howls of protest heard across the internet.

"We’ve heard your feedback loud and clear," said Kindel. "We look at this case and we will do the right thing,"

He said Microsoft was now working on a “good’ implementation of the copy-paste functionality in Windows Phone 7” although it is not clear if this will make it to the first release on devices.

crazyfish said,

So how is your situation any different than Windows Phone 7 not support any existing Windows Mobile 6 device? Microsoft hardly ever permits Phone OS upgrades for major version releases.

I just want to have something new, and Apple failed to deliver. I don't care about multitasking on my 3G. I get a new phone every two years, and I was planning to get a new iPhone, but now I'm not interested anymore.

I find W7PS way more appealing, especially GUI wise.

Edited by Pajter, Apr 9 2010, 11:19am :