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iPod Touch/iPhone App Review: iOS 4

Most weeks, the OWC Blog Staff picks a particular free application to review. However, this week, we went with something else that’s free to install on your iPhone or iPod Touch – iOS 4, the Operating System that comes with the iPhone 4 is also available for previous model iPhones and iPod Touch.


With its easy-to-use interface, amazing features, and rock-solid stability, iOS — Apple’s mobile operating system — is the foundation of iPhone. And even as other phones try to catch up, the technologies and features built into iOS 4 keep it years ahead of the competition.

Elegant and intuitive interface.

The first time you pick up an iPhone, you know how to use it. That’s because the revolutionary Multi-Touch interface in iOS was designed for the most natural pointing device ever: your finger. So whether you’re using one of the built-in apps or one of the over 200,000 apps and games available from the App Store, you control everything with a tap, drag, swipe, pinch, flick, or twist of your fingers. Even tasks that might seem complicated — such as starting a FaceTime call or editing a video with iMovie — are simple, easy, and fun.

OWC Chris’s Review

As soon as I could do so reasonably, I jailbroke my third-gen iPod Touch. This was a two-part experiment. first, I wanted to see what kind of apps were available from non-Apple sources. Second, there were features of the OS that I wanted that weren’t otherwise available: folders, custom backgrounds, and some sort of multitasking.

Frankly, the apps offered outside of the App Store weren’t all that interesting to me, so the only reason I kept it jailbroken was for the aforementioned features. When iPhone OS 4 was announced (and before its name was shortened to iOS 4), I was excited that Apple finally added the features I wanted. So, when it came time to update, I did so rather excitedly (after completely restoring my iPod to stock).

On the above features, iOS 4 works quite well. Folders work much better than the workaround I was using; now it’s just a simple drag and drop. Same goes for the background pictures, though I sort of miss the opportunity for different themes. As for “multitasking,” while the iOS version seems to only background certain processes, it doesn’t eat my battery like the hacked implementation did. I consider that an improvement.

What surprised me, though, were the features beyond those added above.

The “new” feature that I use the most has to be Airplane Mode. With a single switch, you can turn WiFi and Bluetooth off. iPhone users have had this option forever, where it also turned off the phone antenna. With iOS 4, though, this mode is finally an option for the iPod Touch, so I consider it a “new” feature.

I’m also digging the unified inbox in Mail. On my Touch, I check my two main mail accounts, and this makes browsing things a lot easier. No more scrolling back two or three screens to switch between accounts, though I could do it that way, if I wanted. All my mail is in one place, and I don’t have to think about it.

The final feature I’m liking is an app in and of itself, but is considered part of the upgrade. I am, of course, talking about iBooks. As an actual reader, I find it kind of lacking compared to Stanza, though I do like its implementation of chapters and bookmarks a little better. Where it wins out, however, is its integration with iTunes.

I have a lot of books I’ve gotten through Project Gutenberg and various other sources, most of which have no book covers and the metadata in them is a little out of whack. I had to deal with it in Stanza, but with iTunes, it’s just a matter of dragging a picture in like album art for my music. Adding books is just as easy. Just drag the ePub files into iTunes and they sync over. With Stanza, it was a weird exercise in wireless networks, sharing and manual downloading.

Those three features, plus the three I initially mentioned, make iOS 4 a “must have” in my book.

Final Verdict: If your iPhone or iPod Touch can run it, download this update immediately.

OWC Michael’s Review

I updated from iPhone OS 3.1.3 for iPod touch to iOS4 just a few short days ago (after waiting a few days for the iPhone 4 / new Mac mini web traffic to settle down a bit) and the upload went off without a hitch. Now I couldn’t be happier with my 3rd generation iPod Touch as the three things I wished it could do have now been resolved.

First off (and this is probably just me), I couldn’t care less about multitasking. I didn’t buy my iPod to do more than play music and run the occasional application. I’m not one for surfing the web other than the quick lookup of specific information on my iPod; I wasn’t heartbroken that I couldn’t stream music through Pandora on my iPod. I have my MacBook for more extensive web browsing and streaming of audio/video media; I have my iPod for listening to the music and watching the videos I already own.

What I really wanted was a way to delete email from my inbox without having to swipe and tap each and every email I received. With the updated mail in iOS 4, I now can select all the mail I wish to delete and tap once to get rid of it.

I also wanted the ability to not have to scroll through page after page of applications looking for the one I want. I know the search feature was always there – but honestly, I never used it. I know the apps by their icons and found it easier to just swipe through several pages of apps (which I themed each page with like apps.) Now I’ve taken each of my themed pages and put each in its own folder. It is so much easier finding what I’m looking for now.

The last feature I wanted is a bit frivolous, but I like being able to customize my wallpaper. Now that I can, it really does feel like “my” iPod.

Now that all three issues from the past have been satisfied, I’m one happy camper with my iPod touch. I’ve noticed no slowdown of applications or navigation, every application I’ve opened so far has kept all my settings, scores, and still runs smoothly.

My suggestion: Upgrade away!

OWC Mike H.’s Review

I’ve experienced iOS 4 with a 2nd generation iPod Touch and with an iPhone 4. The iPod Touch didn’t make the cut for multi-tasking or backgrounds, but it does support folders. Safari got notable improvements with a lot less reloading needed which I loved! Not having a background image was a little jarring as I thought I had a 3rd generation iPod Touch, not a 2nd generation. So when I was searching through settings there was nothing to indicate it wasn’t supported, just no options we’re there. Something indicating items not supported or a pop-up upon initial install would’ve clarified everything for me.

Folders is a very welcome addition, but I don’t like them for everything. I really don’t want pages of folders icons that I have to thumbs through and discern. To me paging through 2-3 pages and clicking a big icon is much faster and efficient than clicking folder to folder. Do I like folders? Heck yah, I’m just not using them as much as I thought I would.

Overall though I thought the last iOS was very stable, so it’s hard for me to judge stability as I thought it was already great to begin with. iOS 4 didn’t seem faster, nor slower… which, while people complain they can’t have certain iOS 4 features on older devices, it looks like Apple made the right call on iOS 4 restrictions to keep the older devices running reliably without any slowdown. So kudos to Apple there.

iPhone 4 unleashes the full version of iOS 4 and it does shine. Something as simple as backgrounds is a way cool addition and multi-tasking is just like I thought it would be. I don’t care too much about it 95% of the time, but when needed, it comes in very handy… even for copying and pasting between apps.

For me it’s all about Mail and Safari. Mail received significant upgrades and is just that much better to user. Safari is snappier, and is just a better web experience with also being able to handle certain web page elements than it could before.

It’s apparent that IOS 4 really needs to be experienced on a device that fully supports all it’s features. It was nice that Apple allowed a feature limited version for older devices, but the dramatic improvements come with full support. iOS4 looks like a solid release for old and new.

100% recommended.

M. Chris Stevens
the authorOWC Chris S.
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