Our iPhone 3.0 Scorecard

On Monday, we published a list of 15 iPhone 3.0 features we’d like to see. Now that Tuesday’s iPhone 3.0 event has come and gone, how did Apple do? Here’s a look at each item and how iPhone 3.0 fares compared to our wish list. (Yes, this is a completely subjective and Macworld-centric evaluation.) Keep in mind that Apple showed only a handful of the “100 new features” in iPhone 3.0, so it’s possible some of the things we’ve asked for simply weren't announced; for this reason, we’ve marked “missing” features as Too Early To Tell.

Systemwide cut/copy/paste As Jason Snell noted in our liveblog, “Our long national nightmare is over.” Copy/cut/paste is indeed coming to the iPhone with the 3.0 software update, and it appears to be a pretty good implementation. You simply double-tap some text to select it and bring up a Cut/Copy/Paste bar. If you want to adjust the selection to be cut or copied, you can do so. The feature works across applications, and it even handles HTML, rich text, and photos. (You can undo a cut or paste action by shaking the phone; shake again to redo. Clever, Apple.) Verdict: Fulfilled

Push notifications and/or background apps Apple first announced push-notification functionality back at WWDC 2008, but as we noted back in January, the feature has been missing in action. It’s finally coming with iPhone 3.0, and it appears the feature will work essentially as it was described last year, letting third-party applications use Apple’s service to notify you of events or data, even if the app itself isn’t running. On the other hand, Apple made its case (again) for why background applications aren’t a good idea, citing battery-life and performance issues. These are valid concerns, although they don’t change the fact that there are certain types of apps (Internet-radio streamers come to mind) that would truly benefit from being able to run in the background. Verdict: Partially Fulfilled

Landscape mode in every Apple app iPhone users have been asking for this feature since Day One, and iPhone 3.0 offers it “in all key applications.” For example, Mail, Notes, and SMS. Verdict: Fulfilled

Improvements to Mail Heavy users of iPhone Mail will likely be disappointed by what was announced (so far, at least). Of the features we were hoping for—a unified Inbox, better mass-handling of messages, more options for replying, and the capability to e-mail multiple photos—only the last item was mentioned: you’ll be able to use the new copy/paste functionality to select multiple photos in the iPhone’s Photos app and then paste those photos into a new e-mail message. Given that Mail generated the longest list of hoped-for improvements among Macworld staff back in 2007, and few of those wishes have been granted, here’s hoping those “100 new features” include many Mail improvements. Verdict: Too Early To Tell

Sync notes and to-dos At the end of the event, Apple’s Scott Forstall rattled off a quick list of some of the other new features to be included in the iPhone 3.0 software. Among those: Notes will sync with your computer (both Macs and Windows PCs) via iTunes. But no more details were provided; there was no mention of which desktop program these notes will sync with, or how much flexibility you’ll have. To-do syncing wasn’t mentioned at all, even though it seems to be a more-obvious omission, given that the iPhone already syncs with desktop programs that include to-do lists. Verdict: Too Early To Tell

Better app organization No mention was made of any changes to the way the iPhone or iTunes let you manage your apps. Verdict: Too Early To Tell

Customizable tones Ditto. Although we wouldn’t be surprised if this was a feature Apple slipped in under the cover of “100 new features.” Verdict: Too Early To Tell

Full Bluetooth support There’s good news here: Apple seems to really be embracing Bluetooth in iPhone 3.0. For example, the update will provide A2DP support for stereo audio over Bluetooth, opening the door to a wide variety of audio accessories—speakers, headphones, home-audio systems—as well as easier car-audio integration. Apple is also implementing auto-discovery and Bonjour over Bluetooth for peer-to-peer connectivity. This means that if you’re playing a network-enabled game, you’ll be able to “see” and connect to other iPhones in the area playing that same game; the feature will also work for other types of apps. Apple also said that software will be able to “talk to accessories over Bluetooth” in the same way that they'll be able to talk to accessories via the Dock connector—but it's not clear what the ramifications of that will be. Finally, Apple also volunteered this little nugget: The second-generation iPod touch does indeed support Bluetooth and iPhone 3.0 will enable it!

On the other hand, there are also some unanswered questions. For example, Apple wouldn’t confirm support for the Bluetooth keyboard profile or for syncing contacts with newer automobile systems. Verdict: Partially Fulfilled

MMS One of the most-requested features, especially outside the US, MMS (Multimedia Messaging Service) is coming to the iPhone’s existing SMS app. You’ll be able to send and receive photos, contacts (in vCard format), audio files, and locations. Forstall also mentioned that the iPhone’s SMS functionality will be improving, allowing you to forward and delete individual or multiple messages. Both iPhone models gain the SMS improvements, although only the iPhone 3G will get MMS capabilities. According to Apple, MMS messages are carried over different carrier frequencies than SMS, and the original iPhone doesn’t include the necessary radio circuitry. Verdict: Fulfilled

Video capture No mention of video capture. Verdict: Too Early To Tell

Turn-by-turn directions The iPhone’s Maps app is great, but it’s still too limited to make the iPhone a replacement for a true GPS. With iPhone 3.0, developers can use the OS’s CoreLocation technology in their own apps to provide turn-by-turn applications. The catch here is that licensing restrictions prevent other apps from using Google’s maps, so developers will have to install their own maps on your phone. iPhone 3.0 will also allow developers to use Maps’ functionality within their own apps, so you won’t have to switch back and forth between Maps and the current app. Verdict: Fulfilled

Application data sharing and syncing No mention was made of ways for apps to access common data or share their data with other apps. Verdict: Too Early To Tell

Spotlight for iPhone We’ve been asking for search since the first iPhone was released. We were finally able to search contacts with iPhone 2.0, and 3.0 will add a new Spotlight feature that lets you search in “all key applications.” For example, in Mail, you’ll be able to search common headers of messages (though Apple didn’t mention message bodies, which would be a major omission); you’ll even be able to search messages on IMAP and Exchange servers. You can also search in Calendar Notes. Even better, a new Home-screen “page” called Spotlight (sneakily located to the left of the current first page) will let you search all supported apps, including your iPod library, simultaneously. However, based on Apple’s presentation, it seems unclear if you’ll be able to search data in third-party apps, or even in all Apple apps. Verdict: Partially Fulfilled

Share Internet with a Mac or PC Unlike with many other phones on the market, you can’t currently share your iPhone’s wireless connection with a computer or other paired device (at least not without jailbreaking your phone). Apple hasn’t expressed much enthusiasm for this feature in the past, but during the Q&A session at the end of today’s event, the company said the feature is indeed coming with version 3.0. According to Apple, the company is “absolutely supporting tethering on the client side” (meaning on the iPhone), but that the other piece of the puzzle is wireless-carrier approval; Apple is “working with carriers around the world” on that second piece. Verdict: Partially Fulfilled

Voice dialing No mention was made of iPhone 3.0 including a voice-dialing feature—a feature many simple mobile phones have had for years. Verdict: Too Early To Tell

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