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Hands-on with iOS 4 on the Apple iPhone 3GS

Hands-on with iOS 4 on the Apple iPhone 3GS
Today marked the rebirth for a decent amount iPhone owners across the country as Apple unleashed the latest version of their mobile platform, iOS 4, to an awaiting audience that's been eager for a refreshing reboot to jump start the overall experience. We've been fortunate in checking out iOS 4 running for the better portion of the day on an iPhone 3GS to witness the full potential of what it has to offer. After a reasonable wait time of less than 30 minutes, our phone was finally ready as we were first surprised to see our usual wallpaper now donning the background of the main menu – "what a shock" at first sight! As we slowly started to check out the interface, we did notice that the speed was a bit more peppy with even more fluid looking movements between scrolling in the main menu. Additionally, there are some transition effects and new animations littered in almost everything that you do, such as getting back to the home screen, that slightly adds a hint of style to the new platform. 

Now one of the biggest touted features of iOS 4 is its ability to multi-task – sort of for most people who aren't up to speed regarding it. As much as we appreciate the new feature, we find it in its current form to act more like a quick menu than anything else – meaning that double pressing the home button will present you with apps that you've opened recently so you can run them again. Once you've done that, the dock will allow you to switch between any of those apps, while pressing your finger down on any app will enable you to choose which apps to close. Although there is some true multi-tasking functionality that can be seen, like talking on Skype while writing an email, most apps have yet to take advantage of this true feature. You'll have to check out the App Store to see whether or not a specific app has been updated to be implemented with multi-task. Unfortunately for owners of the original iPhone and iPhone 3G, you'll be singing the blues knowing that multi-task will be nowhere in sight and will only be an option to the current iPhone 3GS and the upcoming iPhone 4.

There are additional packed goodies to make this update a worthwhile one – like being able to read an iBook now that the app is available on the App Store. Surely this can be seen as a useful item for those individuals that prefer carrying on something more compact than the iPad. We were able to read Winnie the Pooh and experience all the subtle similarities between it and the iPad. The unification of all inboxes will also come in handy by a myriad of users who prefer everything to come in at a single place. And to add more depth to the iPhone's email system, iOS 4 finally presents your emails in threaded view – which we found to be quite a pleasant treat. In keeping things organized, we adore the addition of  Folders to the platform which will ultimately reduce the amount of flicks required in getting to a specific app and allows for more room overall. Although it's a nice new feature, we didn't care too much for the digital zoom that's now available when taking photos – sadly, it's not yet an option for video. We found the ability to create your own play list on the go is a much wanted feature that'll eliminate the need to rely on your computer. Finally, now that double pressing the home button will no longer bring up the iPod controls, you can simply scroll to the left most panel in the dock to quickly gain access to some common functions and iPod controls as well.

Overall, we'd imagine the new presentation will surely capture the gaze of most people at first – especially on the iPhone 3GS where we noticed some of the most fluid movements when navigating around the platform. Now that multi-tasking is available to an extent, we still adore the fact that we no longer are required to get back to the homescreen to run another app. However, as time goes on when developers of current and future apps are able to tinker around more with iOS 4, we'll truly begin to see its potential take form. Naturally we'd surmise that Apple didn't enable full blown multi-tasking in order to keep the overall performance of the platform stable – so we don't get pissed due to lag or slowdown.

With all these new features in tow with iOS 4, we're still going to see how it affects battery life over the course of the next day to give our final judgment. As a final note for those who tread the path of jailbreaking their phones, there is yet to be one available for iOS 4 and as well as an unlock solution – so it would be wise to wait for one to come out before proceeding to install it.

So did you update already? What do you think? Tell us in the comments! 

UPDATE: Right on time, hacktivating your iPhone 3G with iOS 4.0 is now possible thanks to the redsn0w beta tool from the iPhone Dev-Team. You can check it out here.

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