First Look: iPhone 2.2 Makes A Great Thing Better - InformationWeek

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IoT
IoT
Mobile // Mobile Devices
Commentary
11/21/2008
04:24 PM
Mitch Wagner
Mitch Wagner
Commentary
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First Look: iPhone 2.2 Makes A Great Thing Better

The biggest improvement in the iPhone software Version 2.2 is in the Maps application -- particularly the addition of Street View. It's a slick implementation that gets a lot of information into a very small screen. You can figure out the new Street View and other Maps features easily, especially if you've already used Maps.

The biggest improvement in the iPhone software Version 2.2 is in the Maps application -- particularly the addition of Street View. It's a slick implementation that gets a lot of information into a very small screen. You can figure out the new Street View and other Maps features easily, especially if you've already used Maps.Search for a location, or drop a pin anywhere on Maps, and you get a pop-up containing information about the location. If Street View is available, you'll see an orange icon of a person on the left side of the popup. (This is what it looks like). Tap that icon, and the map view zooms smoothly in on your location, and rotates to landscape view. You then get a Street View image that looks pretty similar to the regular Web interface. This is what it looks like on McDougal Street near Bleecker in Greenwich Village, N.Y.

Note the circular map at the bottom right of the image -- it shows you where you are, and the direction your camera is facing. Tap the circle to return to the conventional Maps view.

Google's Joe Hughes explains the usefulness of mobile Street View on the Google Mobile Blog: "You might wonder why you'd want to look at panoramas of the world while you're already out in it, but I've found it handy for getting an idea of what to look for when going somewhere new. In somewhere like New York, it's also a great way to get your bearings when you pop out of a subway station in an unfamiliar part of town."

You can share your location by e-mailing coordinates using the built-in Mail application. The coordinates are readable by anybody else using Google Maps -- since the application is available for most smartphones nowadays, as well as on the flat Web, this capability will be very handy for making connections. It's an easy, digital way of saying, "Here I am! Meet me here!" However, it's of limited usefulness, given how crude GPS accuracy is on the iPhone; often the accuracy is as rough as hundreds of feet. You can tell your friends you're at the mall, but you can't rely on Maps to let them know you're in Starbucks in the seat near the window.

The Maps app gives you two new choices for directions -- walking and public transit. They're detailed and easy-to-read, and apparently pretty accurate.

The built-in Web browser gets a bit of re-arranging, with the address bar and search bar now side-by-side at the top of the screen, and the refresh button moved inside the address bar. I suppose this is an improvement; it's hard to excited about it.

The iPod software lets you download episodes of podcasts wirelessly. I haven't had a chance to try that out yet. This capability will be a great benefit to those of us who want fresh podcasts first thing in the morning, before we've powered up our computers and synced the iPhone to iTunes. Wireless podcast syncing also will be a plus for people, like me, who don't sync our iPhones when we're away from home; when I go on overnight trips (like a week in Columbus with my wife, visiting her family over Christmas break), I'll be able to take my podcasts with me.

Unfortunately, the podcasts don't seem to download automatically (as they do with iTunes on the desktop); you have to tap the screen and ask for each episode manually, then wait for it to download. I can understand why Apple did that -- it saves bandwidth -- but it'd be even more convenient if your podcasts were just there, and up-to-date, without requiring any intervention.

This is definitely a First World problem. Billions of people around the world have no electricity or indoor plumbing, and I'm complaining that I have to touch my finger to a screen to get the latest episode of This American Life. Poor me!

The upgrade went very fast. My colleague Eric Zeman reports it's 246 MBs; I was able to download it and get my iPhone back up and running in almost exactly 15 minutes, including syncing data after the software update was installed.

If you haven't received the upgrade automatically, you may need to click the "check for update" button on iTunes to get things started. iTunes lets you know the upgrade is available and asks for permission to download it.

For more information: My colleague Marin Perez has a detailed overview of the iPhone 2.2 release.

And check out our iPhone 2.2 image gallery showing the major new features.

Have you upgraded your iPhone to version 2.2? What do you think of it so far? If not -- why not?

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