Apple iPhone 3GS Review - Firmware 3.0 Review

Not all the new features in the iPhone 3GS are hardware based. Apple’s ongoing firmware updates bring new functionality to its phone on a regular basis and the latest 3.0 version – which ships on the 3GS – has a few neat tricks up its sleeve. It’s worth remembering though, that if you’ve got an iPhone 3G or even an original iPhone, you can install the latest firmware and benefit from some, if not all of the new functionality.

First up, the iPhone finally gets MMS support, so if you like being able to send your photos direct to a friend’s phone, without faffing about with email, you’ll be a happy bunny. MMS is something that I have missed since I started using an iPhone, but I’ll admit that only started using MMS after my first daughter was born, so perhaps it’s a child dependant feature.

The addition of MMS gives you a little camera button when you’re looking at an SMS conversation. Pressing that button will give you the option to take a photo, or to attach a photo from your library. You can then send it to whomever you like. One thing worth remembering is that it can take a little while to send, so if you’re in an area of patchy coverage, try to stand in one place until it’s sent.

Considering that MMS has appeared as part of a simple firmware update, I can’t help but wonder why it has taken so long. Perhaps the fact that the AT&T network in the US hasn’t supported the service until now might have something to do with it.

Something else that will appease some of the iPhone critics is the implementation of copy and paste functionality. However, whereas copy and paste on some other handsets can be a fiddly affair, the iPhone’s multi-touch interface makes it an absolute breeze. That said, I still find little use for copy and paste, no matter how slick its implementation.

Another welcome feature courtesy of 3.0 is A2DP Bluetooth support. Whereas the iPhone only used to support a Bluetooth hands-free profile, it can now be used with stereo Bluetooth headphones. You’ll also be able to stream your music to your in-car system if it also supports A2DP.

The new global search function is particularly cool. Sliding the main home screen to the right will reveal the Search screen – pressing the Home button while already on the Home screen will have the same effect. Here you can type any search string into the box, and every instance of that string will be listed below, whether it be in your music library, notes, contacts etc.

The Voice Recorder also arrived with the 3.0 firmware, allowing you to take voice notes, or perhaps record a presentation or interview. This is a particularly useful feature for someone in my line of work, but once again, something that other phones and MP3 players have been doing for years.

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