On Friday, Apple officially released the iPhone OS 2.0 software update. The file weighs in at 225MB and is available as a free download via iTunes for owners of the original iPhone; it also comes pre-loaded on the new iPhone 3G. iPod touch users can also download the iPhone OS 2.0 update via the iTunes Store at a cost of $9.95, which also brings with it the features added in the iPod touch software update in January.
First announced by Steve Jobs last March, the iPhone 2.0 software brings with a number of improvements and new features, chief among which are support for Microsoft’s Exchange ActiveSync technology. ActiveSync is widely used in corporate environments to provide “push” email, calendar, and contacts to mobile devices, and has long been considered one of the iPhone’s major weaknesses.
The iPhone 2.0 software also includes a number of other features aimed at corporate environments, such as the ability to remotely wipe a phone in case it’s lost, and the addition of support for the Cisco IPsec VPN protocol, for connecting to secure networks.
Corporate users aren’t the only one who can benefit from instantaneous syncing of contacts, calendars, and mail. The iPhone 2.0 update also brings support for Apple’s new MobileMe suite of Internet services, which also officially launches today, replacing the existing .Mac service. Using MobileMe, iPhone and iPod touch users can sync data on their handheld devices with that on their Mac or PC, without having to connect the devices to their computer.
Perhaps its biggest new feature, iPhone 2.0 also adds support for third-party applications created with the iPhone Software Development kit first announced last March. Applications are available through the new App Store, which is accessible both through the iTunes Store on desktop computers and through a new application on the iPhone’s Home screen. Users can browse the store and purchase applications on handheld devices and have them automatically installed, or buy programs on the desktop and have them synced to the device via iTunes.
A number of other new features and improvements have been added in iPhone 2.0, such as deleting and moving multiple emails simultaneously, the ability to search through your contacts, and parental controls. Apple has also broadened support for multiple languages, adding 16 new keyboard layouts, including handwriting recognition for Chinese characters.
The iPhone 2.0 update leaked to the public Thursday when the iPhone 3G was launched in New Zealand and Australia.