iPhone 2.0
Jul 10, 2008

Thanks to a tip on MacRumors, I've now got the 2.0 firmware running on my iPhone. This means I've got apps! Without resorting to jailbreaking! So far, I've got to say it's pretty slick. I've only got a few apps installed so far, but the app store works incredibly well (you can see reviews of it and videos of it on Gizmodo). For me, there are two apps that are absolute must haves: the iTunes remote and the Pandora app. We have some speakers set up in the living room via AirTunes on an AirPort Express so that when we have company we can play music in the living room without having to drag a computer out there or something like that. The only drawback to that setup has been that someone needs to get up and go into the office to change the music. No more! Now we can just whip out one of our iPhones and take care if it from right there. Now if only it were possible to play music over AirTunes with an iPhone so that a friend who was over could play their own music if we wanted. But even better than the remote app is the Pandora app. Pandora, if you don't know, is a website that basically helps you find awesome new music (kinda like OurStage, but it's music from big name artists). Basically you start a 'radio station' by seeding it with either an artist or song that you like. Pandora then picks songs for you based on the characteristics of that song (characteristics such as 'traditional blues melodies' and 'minor key tonality'). You can then rate songs with either a thumbs up or a thumbs down to help fine-tune the station. I've found a ton of good music thanks to Pandora, and now I've got access to it wherever I go (it didn't work before because the site is Flash based). Anyone who likes finding new music should definitely check it out. I find it especially useful for exploring new genres: just find a single song you like in that genre and it will help you find more. The iPhone app even has a button that lets you buy the current song/album in the iTunes store. There are a few other features that the 2.0 firmware brings of course. Most notably is MobileMe, which gives push email, contacts, calendars, &c. to MobileMe (previously .Mac) subscribers. I am a subscriber, but the new services aren't actually active yet so I haven't really been able to play around with that yet (But once they do go active I'll be faced with the conundrum of what to do about email. Currently I use Google Apps to manage my email which I really like and works really well, but using my mac.com email address would give me push email. Maybe Google will give us push eventually and I won't have to sacrifice their awesome spam filtering and the ability to host my own domain's email with them. Or maybe Apple will offer something similar.). The new firmware also gives us the ability to search contacts in our address book (and adds a Contacts icon to the main screen so you don't have to go through the phone just to find an email address). I'm sure there's all sorts of things that I haven't found yet too, but for now the only other thing I'll touch on is a better implementation of password field. Previously, when entering a password you had to either pay very close attention or just assume that you weren't hitting the wrong keys on the virtual keyboard. Now, however, it shows the last character that you entered and only hides the previous ones so you can tell if you've made a typo. Not huge, but a nice touch.
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