First look: iPhone OS 3.0 is better for business, but IT won't be satisfied

My iPod Touch slowed to a crawl, making the many useful new iPhone update features hard to use -- at first

The hype over the new iPhone 3.0 OS has matched Apple's previous frenzied heights. We've all been guilty of getting excited over a new version that added long-desired capabilities such as copy and paste and content searching, but now that the new OS is real (it became available yesterday), does it live up to our hopes and dreams?

For the most part.

I downloaded the new iPhone OS onto my first-generation iPod Touch, after paying the $10 upgrade fee. The installation was easy. And after about 10 minutes, when the new OS was installed and my iPod Touch was updated, I eagerly took my device out of its dock.

[ Get InfoWorld's 28-page hands-on look at the new iPhone OS from the perspective of business and IT pros, including reviews of iPhone configuration management and application development tools, all from InfoWorld’s editors and contributors.| See who wins InfoWorld's mobile deathmatch: iPhone 3.0 versus BlackBerry. | Tom Yager explores: Should you upgrade to iPhone OS 3.0 or get an iPhone 3G S instead?]

And waited. And waited. It was excruciatingly slow, even for simple tasks such as switching from the home page to the setup app. Everything -- mail, calendar, App Store, iTunes, you name it -- simply lags for sometimes several seconds after you click the Home button or tap an option or swipe the screen. (And, yes, I even powered down to see if "rebooting" would clear the system. It didn't.) I began to think that Apple had taken a page out of Microsoft's book: Make sure a new OS at least neutralizes any faster hardware.

My anguish was acute, especially because you can't really reverse an OS upgrade on an iPhone. But over the course of a couple of hours, my iPod Touch got faster, getting close to its old speeds. (I strongly suspect the slowdown was caused by the Spotlight search feature indexing all the content on my device.) I don't like the slight lag that still exists, but my fear that I was stuck with a mud machine has faded.

As we installed the iPhone 3.0 OS on other users' devices, it became clear that the slowdown I experienced was related to how much data I had on my iPod Touch (about 8GB of music, a calendar with two years' of appointments, and two e-mail accounts, including an Exchange-based one with thousands of messages). Devices with little information had no slowdown, and after the initial Spotlight indexing was done, performance was at or near the old OS' speed. Phewww!

What business users will love
Assuming that such slowdowns are short-lived for everyone else as well, does the iPhone OS 3.0 bring significant advantage to business users? Back in November 2008, I found that the iPhone OS 2.2 didn't really overcome the limitations that frustrated me -- some of which have been fixed in the iPhone OS 3.0.

Let's start with the big one: copy and paste. It's easy. Double-tap on text and the nearest word is highlighted, and a menu with Select and Select All appears. If you choose Select, two drag bars appear, one on either side. Drag either bar to expand the selection. When done, click Cut or Copy in the menu above your selection. (Cut appears only if you can actually edit the content, such as in an e-mail you are writing, as opposed to one you are reading.) Go to any other app with content, and double-click where you want to paste the text or graphic, then click the Paste menu that appears. If you are in read-only text, no Paste menu appears. It works exactly as you would expect.

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