Unless you’ve spent two straight weeks reading all the blogs and you’re a certified fanboy, what’s coming to your iPhone on Monday is a bit of a mystery. It’s not just Apple's forthcoming iPhone 4 that will bring sexy back, and depending on which device you have, you’ll get varying shades of an upgrade.
So beyond all the slick new iPhone 4 features like FaceTime, Folders and Multitasking, what are the subtle difference-makers – the killer tweaks that will change how you use your phone right now? After reading TiPb’s in-depth look and lots of Googling, here’s my Top Five list of miniature upgrades for all handsets. This is just part of what a 300+MB download gets you.
Photo Resizing: If you’re into photos like our family (26,000+ pictures in 620+ events), sharing them is one of our killer apps – and potentially the only reason my wife’s iPhone has a data plan. While it’s often shots snapped with the on-board camera, we also sync the most recent 30 events and constantly share them with grandparents, friends and out-of-state uncles. The iOS 4 update now has the option of sending actual size photos, or scaled-down versions in small, medium and large versions. For the grandparents, the high megapixel (read printable) picture is necessary, but everyone else does just fine with the smallest file size going. A definite improvement!
Spell Check: This is one of those killer apps that isn’t sexy, but it’s a huge difference-maker. Remember when Microsoft Word got the little red underlines, and spell-check was as easy as right-clicking? That’s now the story with iOS 4, and all it takes is two clicks. This also eases up the pain of the iPhone’s single stupidest UI ‘feature’ where in order to reject an auto-corrected word you actually have to click on it. Really? So if it’s wrong, I have to pick it? You can bet I’ll be turning off auto-correct and loving life with just spell-check. It’s about damn time…
Over-The-Air Sync of Notes by Account: While Notes synching by account is cool (except early reports say Exchange isn’t supported yet), I fear Evernote has already won this battle – unless you committed to Notes early on. My beef with Notes was always that it was on an island, and had no relevance to me anywhere except on that one handset. If Apple has a chance to cut back into the Evernote user base, I’d say turn on Notes synching by MobileMe account so I could share them on both my and my wife’s iPhone. Bottom line: it’s a cool feature that might make Notes a serious contender for many users.
Bluetooth Keyboard Support: While this was originally an iPad feature, I’d contend it’s a ton more important for a device that’s ~20% the size of the iPad. Plus the iPad is already amazingly easy to type on – at least for me. The other reality is anyone who owns a Mac laptop probably already has a Bluetooth keyboard. So essentially I’ll have it up and running Day One because I have all the parts. I’m not entirely sure what I need it for – maybe it’d help me manage 1-2 more tasks like Twitter or Evernote on my phone versus having to revert to a laptop or desktop. At least that’s my idea until I let the iPad get a bit deeper in the production run (being a bleeding-edge early adopter in the Apple world has proven painful for me a couple times in the last 3-4 years).
External Spotlight: This is an example of how Apple is slowly allowing the outside world into iOS 4 – and clearly on its own terms. For most Mac users, Spotlight is workhorse feature but even the OSX version doesn’t have external hooks to Google and Wikipedia. The Apple engineers have found the perfect spot to insert outside search, and the process simply launches Safari to return the results. Also of note while talking search, iOS 4 adds Bing if you really gotta have some Microsoft in your iPhone. Odd but now possible.
So these aren’t the stuff of sexy fact sheets or hot TV ads, but you might just spend less time screwing around with the OS and more time checking in on Foursquare – if only to annoy your followers…