Apple has just released its latest operating system upgrade, the iOS 4 update, for iPhone and iPod touch owners. The iPhone 4 might not be in stores until Thursday, but existing owners can take advantage of over 100 new software features coming to the new device starting now.
Apple iOS 4 is a free update but it works a bit differently on different era devices. Users with the iPhone 3GS or third generation (late 2009) iPod touch will receive all of the features of the new OS, including multitasking.
But users with the 2008-era iPhone 3G or second generation iPod touch receive only a subset of the iOS features. They will not receive multitasking capabilities, for example. Users with first generation iPhones or iPod touches will not be able to install iOS 4.
On the backend, iOS 4 has more than 1,500 changes or additions to the API, which will enable developers to build even better apps on these devices. Aside from multitasking, iOS 4 provides a number of useful new features, including:
- Multitasking — A combination of persistent-state applications and backgrounding functions for certain services. The end result means better battery performance when doing things like listening to Pandora while browsing the web.
- Folders — Organizing your iPhone Home Screen is easier now that you can use folders to store groups of apps in one icon. This is a huge time-saver and makes finding and keeping more apps on your device much easier.
- iBooks — First appearing on the iPad, iBooks is now available for iPhone users. Just like the Kindle app, your purchases and page marks are synchronized across devices.
- 5x digital zoom: Get closer to your subjects by zooming in up to 5x.
- Even better Mail: See messages from all your accounts in a unified inbox, organize messages by threads, open attachments in third-party apps, and more.
- Tap to Focus Video — iPhone 3GS owners can now tap to focus their videos just like you can when taking still shots. The new software also includes a 5x digital zoom for the built-in camera.
- Bluetooth Keyboard Support – You can now pair your iPhone with a Bluetooth keyboard, which will make typing long documents much easier.
- Better Spell Check – The spell check utility now works across Mail, Notes, Safari and other apps.
So, are you ready to go? Here’s how to install the iOS 4 update:
- Upgrade your iTunes version to 9.2.
- We recommend you back up your data before running the install, so plug in your iOS device via USB and hit Sync.
- When you’re done syncing, click ‘Check for Update.’
- Download iOS 4, then follow the on-screen instructions to install. And you’re done!
However, Apple will separately update its iPad tablet device to iOS 4 in September. It’s unclear why this product is on a different delivery schedule, or what impact this will have on developers who wish to target both the iPhone and iPad with so-called Universal apps.