iPhone OS 3.0: Was It Worth The Wait?

Anticipation is a powerful emotion. It can make the strongest of men whine like petulant two year olds or make a mundane event feel like 4th of July fireworks.

When it comes to building anticipation there are few entities that can do it as well as Apple, and even fewer individuals who can whip up a crowd like Steve Jobs.

Back when His Steveness announced the feature ladened iPhone OS 3.0 the salivary glands of the iPhone Faithful kicked into overdrive and vendors of other smart and not-so-smartphones started wringing hands again.

See, iPhone owners knew their devices were cool and all, but there were still so many things their Wunder-Phone couldn't do that other phones could. Multimedia Messaging, landscape texting, stereo Bluetooth headset compatibility, the list goes on and on. So when Apple announced that the latest version of iPhone OS, which you may know is a derivative of OS X, the same OS that runs on every Mac (and even a few PCs and netbooks it seems) would deliver almost everything that was missing from the iPhone, well, how could iPhoners not get all tingly with anticipation?

Other smartphone vendors, seeing all of those features that were MIi (Missing in iPhone) leaped at what they perceived as a chance to out Apple Apple. Touch displays aren't that big a deal, they must have reasoned. All they needed to do was include a hardware keyboard and it should be easy to build a better iPhone.

While most efforts have missed the mark, some of the latest devices are not that bad. In fact, some of the features they offer are rather slick. Palm's Pre, for instance, has a neat way to provide a multitasking-like environment while the iPhone won't allow any background processes to run.

Still makers of i-wannabe-Phones knew that if Apple filled in the gaps the already talented iPhone would be an even tougher act to follow.

So, now you've got millions of iPhoners longing to cut-n-paste and scores of smartphone vendor praying that a large rock from space would fall on 1 Infinite Loop (on a day when the place is empty, of course). All waiting for iPhone 3.0 to appear.

Anticipation. It's likely one of the most under-appreciated emotions we have. It had me up at midnight on June 17, and again at 3 AM. And since Apple saw fit to toy with us and release the update early that afternoon, many of us spent the morning wallowing in anticipation.

Now that many of us have iPhone OS 3.0, it was worth the wait?

Well, for me yes it was, and no it wasn't.

I've only had the update loaded on my iPhone for a little while and I've played with many of the important new features, so I think if you compare the iPhone 3G loaded with 3.0 to any other smartphone, past, present, or near future then I would bet serious money that Apple's wunder-phone would beat all challengers easily.

The iPhone 3G now does just about everything I could want in a smartphone, and piled high on top of a solid platform is a mountain of applications that can turn the iPhone from a simple phone that plays music to a Star Trek-like medical device, to an excellent flight simulator, and then, when you've got a few extra minutes to burn, it becomes a kick-butt gaming machine. And we're not talking rehashed Atari arcade favorites, though there are those. We are talking full fledged, 3-D, in your face, 'gimme the BFG cuz you all gonna die' frag-fest games.

Cut and Paste works so well and seems so intuitive that I'm left wondering why Apple took so long to make it available. Intuitive interfaces that work is suppose to be their strong forte.

Landscape text writing is such a no brainer that, again, I'm left wondering what took so long.

Then there are the little things, stuff you didn't like before but got used to. My friend Nicole pointed one such feature out to me.

"Before," she said, "when you got calls the iPhone list would tell you what calls you got, but it wouldn't show from what type of device the call came from."

She's right. I have many contacts in my address book that have cellphones, home phones and work phones. When these folks called only the name of the caller showed up and you were left wondering which device the person called from.

Very annoying, but I got use to it.

Now calls show not only the name, but the device, if known, and whether it was an incoming or outgoing call. If the number is not in your contacts the state and country where the call originated is shown.

Even better, if you tap the blue button next to the name you'll see the contact info for that parson as you did before, but you'll also see a list of calls made to or received from that person.

Another friend of mine, Jason, discovered that Cut, Copy, and Paste only works when you're in "edit" mode, that is when the keyboard is shown. However you can still select and copy outside of edit mode. This pretty much means that anywhere there are words on the screen in apps that allow it, you can copy and paste them.

Nuances, tweaks, and little touches like these are what made the wait for iPhone 3.0 worth it.

While I throughly enjoy all these cool new features I have to remind myself that most are new only to the iPhone. Other phones have had Multimedia Messaging and landscape texting from the beginning. Add to this the minor annoyances caused by AT&T and their delay in support for some features and some shine fades from the update.

Still, something happened recently that put everything into perspective: I got a call from someone interested in one of the art photos I offer for sale.

"Did you see my email to you," the caller asked me. I had not. "I want to see the photo again. Do you have it on a Web site?"

I do, of course, but in the past I would have had to tell her the address of the site. Now, while I continued to have a conversation with my potential customer via my Bluetooth headset, I opened Safari on my iPhone, went to my Web site, copied the address, opened Mail, replied to the customer's email note, pasted the site's address in the reply, and sent it on its way. She got the reply while I was talking to her and I got the sale.

That is what I've been waiting for, and that, my friends, is the way it should be.