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Apple has made some very subtle updates to the visual design for iOS 5. /via Design Archive

(Source: darrengeraghty)


iOS 4 Review: What Has Changed?

iOS 4 is finally here! If you haven’t already done so, go download iTunes 9.2, connect your iPhone to iTunes and hit the “Check For Updates” button. It should tell you that iOS 4 is ready to download. (Remember! Make sure to always back-up all your data before upgrading your OS!)

The first things you will notice after updating the iPhone are the aesthetic changes to the OS. The bottom dock is now a 3D glass shelf that mimics the dock that appears on the iPad.

The Calculator icon has been re-designed to differentiate itself from the folder icons to reduce confusion for the user. (Just a random side note, this is the 4th time the calculator icon has been redesigned on the iPhone.)

iPhone Calculator Icon Comparison


Which brings me to my next topic, Folders! Probably the single most amazing part of the iOS 4 update. I went from having 11 pages of apps to 3! My poor fingers no longer have to endlessly swipe one page at a time to get to the app I want. While the addition of the global search bar in iOS 3 was great for helping me launch apps without swiping, it’s tends to be slower and involves more taps compared to the new folder method. And in general, it’s easier to find things and perform tasks when you can make a folder filled with apps dedicated to a similar category.

FoldersCustomizing Folder

To create a folder, hold your finger down on an app until it starts to wiggle. Then simply drag the app on top of another app to group them together. The iPhone will automatically name the folder for you based on the category of apps that your are grouping together, however, you can easily change the name of the folder to whatever you want it to be. There is one limitation though. You can only store 12 apps in one folder. You also cannot nest folders inside other folders.


Another huge addition to iOS 4 is Mutlitasking. Apple has taken away the ability to set up shortcuts for double clicking your home button and has dedicated it to exclusively handling the new multitasking feature. Double tap the home button and the dock rises up to reveal apps that are running in the background.

Holding your finger down on a background process will bring up red minus symbols so that you can completely kill the processes. (Note: This does not delete the app from your phone) Every app you open while using iOS4 will create a saved state in the multitask bar. And once all the developers update their apps to fully take advantage of iOS 4, you should be able to return to any app just the way you left it. To see more apps that are running, simply swipe your finger to the left.

However, if you swipe your finger to the right you are presented with a screen rotation lock button, iPod controls, and the iPod icon to launch into the iPod app. The screen rotation lock is only meant to keep the screen from flipping into landscape mode. It doesn’t work the other way around.

Lastly, with multitasking, you can now have apps like Pandora play music while you use other apps on your phone. As well as location based apps constantly updating your location or giving you GPS directions while performing other tasks. The following are tasks that apps can now perform in the background while you do other things:

  1. Audio - Pandora while playing Angry Birds
  2. VoiP - Get a Skype call while in another app
  3. Location - Update your location to a social network without having to do anything
  4. Local Notifications - A way for apps to alert you without using Push Notifications


The calendar app has remained pretty much unchanged. However, you can now “Hide All Calendars” with the tap of a button and you can now check off “Birthdays” so that they easily sync to your calendar.


Once again, the iPhone has taken another page out of the iPad’s book and has added Faces and Places to the Camera Roll in iOS 4. You can now view photos based on where they were taken and the people that are in the photo. 

However there are two huge caveats to these new features.

  1. PC users that don’t own a Mac and the newest version of iPhoto will never be able to take advantage of the Faces feature.
  2. Location data is cumbersome to add to photos without using iPhoto for Mac. The only photos that will really take advantage of this feature are the ones you take on your phone with Location Services turned on.

Lastly, the camera roll can now be viewed in a landscape orientation.

Tip: When viewing a image full screen in the Camera Roll, hold your finger down on the image to bring up the Copy command.


There is now a new and improved view for Albums which now displays the cover art as well as information about the album which closely mimics the way albums appear in the iTunes Music Store. In the Settings app under the iPod section, you also now have the ability to shut off song lyrics from overlaying on top of your cover art.

You can now create and edit playlists on the iPhone. On-The-Go playlists are no more. You simply have regular playlists that you can both create and delete.

Homescreen and Wallpaper

You can now have a separate image for your lock screen and your iPhone app homepage (instead of a dark void of nothingness)


Finally! We can all rejoice! Apple has added unified inboxes to the Mail app. No longer do we have to play the “Inbox Shuffle” to check all our messages. (note: Ratmail is my company’s private mail system in case you were curious)

Circled in red is the new thread counter for threaded messages. You can now easily view all the messages in a particular conversation. 

Mail also allows you to open PDF’s in 3rd party apps which might be better suited at handling the document that you are trying to view.

Finally, you are now able to have multiple MS Exchange accounts! Great news for Enterprise users.


The Camera now has a 5x digital zoom. To make the zoom slider appear, open the Camera app, tap the screen once and then adjust the zoom slider. iPhone 3GS and 4 users can now use the “tap to focus” while shooting video as well.


iPhone can now pair with a bluetooth keyboard so that you can type large amounts of text quickly. Basic keyboard shortcuts like cmd + C and cmd + P (paste) also work!

Voice Control

There are new Voice Control commands. I have not found them all yet, but I do know that one of them is the question “What time is it?” and the iPhone will tell you what time it is.

Odds and Ends

There is now a character counter for text messages. It will not appear until you have typed at least 30 characters. Perfect for making sure your messages aren’t awkwardly cut in half and sent as two separate messages.

There is a new and improved spell checker. There are two ways to initiate the new spell checker. If you spell a word wrong it will now be underlined with a red line. Clicking the word will bring up a list of possible replacement words. Choose one and it fixes it. Or, if you type a word and the autocorrect automatically changes the word to something you don’t want, hit backspace and a bubble will appear offering to spell the word the way you wrote it the first time. Not as good as a user defined dictionary, but pretty damn close to being perfect.


In iOS 3, there was a bug where in some text fields (i.e. Facebook status update) choosing to paste text at the end of the sentence would ignore the whitespace after the last word you typed and would attach the link or text to the previous word. If it was a link, it would completely ruin the link. In iOS 4, the white space is recognized and you don’t have to go back and add a space after pasting.

Launching web apps from an icon that you added to your homepage will launch without the Safari toolbars on the top and bottom to make it look more like a native app and give you more screen real estate to work with.

Notes now supports multiple accounts and over the air syncing via Mobile Me

You can now completely shut off your data connection and have only voice connected. Previously, you could only shut off 3G and was forced to leave Edge running. Not only will this help frugal users keep their data usage from going over their monthly data cap, but it exponentially increases battery life! The more you shut data completely off when you don’t need it, the better! To find the settings go to Settings > General > Network. (You can’t send text messages and Visual Voicemail does not work with data completely shut off.)

Google suggestions now appear when using Google search in Safari. Also the blue button changed from saying “Google” to “Search”. And the text field and the cancel button are side by side now which offers more room on the screen for search results.

Bing is now a supported search engine built into the iOS. You can choose it in Safari Settings

You can now customize your Spotlight searches. You can prioritize which items your phone searches for first as well as being able to completely omit items from being searchable.

You can now independently manage which apps are allowed to use your location. This is one of my favorite changes to iOS because now you don’t have to say “Yes” or “No” every time you open an app that wants to use your location. You say “Yes” once, and it won’t ask you ever again. If you change your mind in the future, you just have to go to Location Services in Settings.

The crosshair icon in the Google Maps app has changed to the Location Services arrow. Also, the Map app has adopted the same fade-in animation from the iPad for the map’s data loading onto the screen.

Apple has released the updated iBooks app for the iPhone. It’s free to download and it comes with a free classic book, “Winnie The Pooh”. It’s also a great app to use to read PDF documents.