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 firstFollow @MobileGalen
For graphics and for protected text on the Web, copy and paste work a little differently: Tap and hold on the item you want to copy or cut, and it becomes highlighted. On a Web page, a paragraph or div may be highlighted. Tap Copy from the menu that appears. Some items open additional menus, such as Save Image or, for a hyperlinked item, Open in New Window. The iPhone OS makes the device act more like a computer in these basic content operations.
The other big change is the inclusion of Spotlight, Apple's search technology for on-device content. Its location is nonintuitive -- you swipe to the left of the Home page to open the Spotlight page -- but once you know where it is, it's easy to get to and use. Enter your search term, and all content on your device that contains the search term is listed. Click an item and the appropriate app opens up with the content in question. Easy. And you can search your mail separately with the new search window when looking at your inbox or any folder in it -- just be sure to scroll up past the top of the window to make it visible. There's also a preference setting to determine exactly what is searched and what is not. If you use Exchange 2007, Spotlight can search the server's folders as well.
Many people wanted the iPhone OS to support Mail, Messaging, Notes, and Safari in landscape mode, which it now does. And the touch keyboard also works in landscape mode, making its buttons bigger and easier to press. It works perfectly well, but note that the landscape mode screen depth leaves little room for seeing what you are typing, so you may let more mistakes go unnoticed. Or you may make fewer mistakes in the first place.
Mail and calendar capabilities are nicely, but not fully, improved. You can now respond to Exchange invitations from your device -- and invite others -- but only if you use Exchange. And you can specify which mail folders are automatically synchronized, no longer limited to the inbox (before, other folders were synced only when you opened them). The iPhone still cannot open .ics invitations that come from or into non-Exchange e-mail accounts. Sorry, but we don't live in an Exchange-only world, so even if your workplace uses Exchange, many business colleagues will use something else.
You can now sync both Exchange wirelessly and your personal calendars via iTunes, so you don't have to put your personal business on the company's servers to make it accessible to your iPhone, as had been true previously. There's also more control over what calendars you're viewing, so you can mix or separate work and personal business very easily.
Beyond these big-ticket items are a host of small improvements, particularly around Mail. For example, you can now set preferences to load or not load remote images in e-mails, to require or not require confirmation before deleting messages, and determine how far back you sync calendar entries.
There's a bit more customization available as well. You can now set what a double-click of the Home button does: go to Home screen, open a Spotlight search, or open the iTunes (iPod) app.
What business users will find lacking still
Apple's gone a long way to addressing business users' needs in the newest iPhone OS. But big gaps remain.
For example, you can't set out-of-office notifications from the iPhone, despite the tighter integration with Exchange 2007. You can't synchronize tasks or manage folders, and you can't move calendar entries from one calendar to another once you've saved them.
But what really pains me is that I still can't open zipped file attachments, even though they contain files the iPhone can display, such as Word documents and PDFs. I'm not at all a fan of the BlackBerry, but this is one thing it does very well that the iPhone OS has no excuse for not doing.
A year ago, when iPhone OS 2.0 came out, I listed 13 things that Apple still needed to fix. I'm happy to say that iPhone 3.0 fixes about half of them: copy and paste, voice dialing, synchronization of notes, simultaneous support of Exchange and local calendars, support for a plug-in microphone (Skype over Wi-Fi here I come!), and the ability to support additional formats such as PNG and RTF.
But I'm also sorry to say that several key needs from that year-old list of 13 items remain unfulfilled:
- The ability to save attachments.
- On-device encryption.
- The ability to add a physical keyboard.
- The ability to comment on PDFs files.
- Native support for GroupWise and Lotus Notes (since neither Novell nor IBM seems to be serious about stepping up, or perhaps because Apple has been getting in their way as part of its Exchange 2007 lovefest with Microsoft; note that IBM says it's now in beta testing of its iPhone-supporting version of Notes).
- Easier e-mail account switching.
- Support for .ics calendar invitations.
Why IT still won't be convinced
BlackBerry users and compliance-fearing IT pros love to complain about the iPhone's lack of security features, despite its VPN, WPA-2, and passcode support. If you manage the iPhone through profiles -- something you can install using authenticated enrollment -- you get the controls you'd expect over passcode length, use of letters and not just numerals, unacceptable patterns, and password lifetimes. (You set these up in the Apple iPhone Configuration Utility, then distribute via e-mail, a Web site, or a USB connection.)