In summing up yesterday's iPhone 3.0 preview event, there's only one word that comes to mind: WHOA.
Noah captured it all beautifully in his vid (and who could forget his song? It still echoes in my ears.) Here's the read-friendly scoop, for those of you who like to digest the news textually.
So let's cut to the chase. Here are the facts:
MY 3 FAVORITE NEW FEATURES:
Cut, Copy and Paste
Landscape Keyboard mode across native apps
Calendar getting CalDAV support
New Home Screen with Spotlight universal search
Expanded Bluetooth functionality: Peer to Peer connectivity & stereo A2DP support
Maps API in Apps
New APIs allowing access to iPhone hardware/software
Modem Tethering (sort of. See below)
COOL. WHAT DOES ALL THIS MEAN?
I'm going to go in order with my favorites on the list:
Landscape keyboard and cut/copy/paste, baby! FINALLY. Now, when I want to copy something online and send it to a friend, I don't have to travel back in time with pencil and paper, write it down and re-key it in. (Here's some extra fun: If I goof up the copy/paste, I can shake the phone to undo or shake it again to redo.) But even if I had to type an email, text or note, I have a big, glorious landscape keyboard to do it on. As for why it took so long, well, the preview didn't offer any satisfaction there. (Basically, the company just wanted to make sure it was done right from the start. Maybe I'll try this excuse with the IRS next month.)
Push notification and Meebo integration: Meebo's basically becoming a native app. It's a unified messaging application that, when coupled with Push, will rock my world. Friends will be able to reach me via AIM, MSN, or whatever, and I'll know when messages come through. (Push, however, is different from background processes. Apple said no to the latter because keeping applications running in the background sucks a phone's battery power drier like a vampire in a blood bank. But since push is always connected to the phone, you can always get notifications. It "pushes" text, audio or icon badge notifications to the foreground, so you know when, say, IMs arrive. It doesn't have to be on all the time.)
Notes Syncing: Now the built-in Notes app is more than a repository for isolated info. Now, it will sync via iTunes! No more workarounds or trying out multitudes of paid notes apps in the App Store. The iPhone version will just work, and it's a beautiful (and way long-awaited) thing.
New Built-in Voice Memo app: Record voice clips, trim, and share them. If you're absent-minded like me, having a fast, easy way to take voice notes is near-thrilling. If you're a doctor, lawyer, or anyone else who provides dictation, this is going to be extremely handy. And if you want, you can use an external microphone (with an adapter).
Multimedia messaging: This one's for Noah. He's wanted MMS for ages, and soon he'll be able to send pics without opening his email app. (But if he does choose to email, at least this has been improved too ? He'll be able to send multiple images in a single message.)
Expanded Bluetooth: Immediate peer-to-peer connectivity (via Bonjour, so no pairing protocols). That can be handy for, say, trading digital business cards with another iPhone-equipped colleague. (Back in my Palm Pilot days, I loved beaming my contact info to friends. This is similar.) It's cool for gaming too. You could play directly against a friend in the room. While all that's nice, it's not the sexy piece of Bluetooth news for the masses. Here's the jelly: Stereo Bluetooth A2DP support. In the past, iPhone's BT was pretty limited to headsets for calls only. With 3.0, you'll be able to pair the phone with a Bluetooth speaker and play your tunes. Nice. (No word on whether the BT will expand to allow pairing with keyboards, though. I know a few hackers who are hell-bent on getting that to work consistently and without a lot of hassle. Though that's not supported, it doesn't mean it won't work, so keep trying, fellas.) There's also iPod Touch Bluetooth news: The Touch 2G, which has had a BT chip in it for seemingly little reason thus far, will be getting unlocked with this update. And why not? With A2DP and P2P coming, there's a veritable alphabet soup of fun on the way, and they couldn't leave out a large market share of these users.
SMS forward/delete functionality: Like so much, it was so elementary, so desired, and so missing until now.
New Homescreen, Universal Search and a new "Spotlight" icon: Say bye-bye to swiping through 9 screens of apps to find the Settings icon. Now you can search it on a new homescreen that features a magnifying glass icon. If that makes you think of the Spotlight search program on the Mac, you've got the whole point. Now you can search Contacts, native apps, iPod, Calender, Notes, and Mail (from/to, subject, but not content ? yet) all in one shot, and call it up immediately. (Email hunters do get IMAP searching, which means that if you can't find what you're looking for on your phone, it searches the IMAP server.)
Modem tethering support: Yes, in the post-event Q&A session, Apple mentioned that there would be tethering support in 3.0. But before you go and try to use your iPhone as a laptop modem, know this ? Apple said that success basically depends on when its carriers will support it on their networks. That means, you'll have the capability when AT&T (in the U.S.) and others abroad can figure out their cut and allow it on their systems. So if you choose to follow the rules, there will be a wait. If you don't ? well you can hack this or just get the jailbreakers' iPhoneModem2.
CalDav and Calendar subscriptions: iPhone's Calendar app is getting CalDav support, people. Finally, syncing to Google Calendar, Yahoo and other online datebooks just got A LOT easier.
VOIP... sorta: It works within applications only. Voice chat within games, which is critical for some FPS (first-person shooter games), is totally supported over the internet (and not the cell network). Sounds good, but no ? you can't use this for Skype calls, at least not out of the box.
In-App Purchases and Maps API: Not earth-shaking to us mere mortals, but the devs are happy about this. Users will be able buy add-ons, new game levels, magazine content, avatar gear, and other virtual stuff within a single game or app (instead of heading back to the App Store for updates or new versions). The Maps API will also let devs integrate maps within applications. (Think Turn by Turn GPS apps. Pretty neat, huh?)
Accessories SDK: Here's another carrot for Apple partners. This lets iPhones control their accessories, which enables related manufacturers to enhance the user-experience of their products. If doing stuff, like controlling your speakers via an iPhone on-screen equalizer, appeals to you, then wait for some cool products to come your way.
AND MORE: Shake to shuffle iPod songs, Wi-Fi auto-login, Anti-phishing Safari feature, extended parental controls, enhanced Stocks app (for news), ability to send/ receive files between iPhone/Touch devices, rumble feature (to make gameplay more fun), audio recording for third-party apps (via standardized API, instead of workarounds), and music accessibility via third-party apps (so applications can access and plays songs from your library).
DOES IT WORK ON 2G?
Yep, mostly, but you can't use MMS or stereo Bluetooth. So if your heart's set on getting hot new BT speakers to blast the latest Katy Perry downloads, there's no goodness for you here. Sorry.
DOES IT WORK ON IPOD TOUCH?
WILL IT COST ME?
Not if you're an iPhone user. But if you've got an iPod Touch and want this update, plan on coughing up $9.95.
WHEN CAN I GET THIS NEW HOTNESS?
If you're a developer, you have access to the 3.0 Beta right now. (Or you can join the developer program to get the Beta.) If you're an end user, it will be released some time this summer, though no actual date was publicized yet. Vague, yes, but that's the official word. (FYI: Most people are pegging June/July-ish.)
So those are the big ticket items, and with these, Apple covered roughly 90% of what I hoped for. There were, however, some big, blatant omissions, namely FLASH and VIDEO RECORDING capability. No word on those, official or otherwise. (Actually, when Gizmodo's Jason Chen asked about Flash point blank, the company line was, "We have no announcements on Flash today." Predictably, that line of questioning was about as fruitful as snipe hunting and unicorn watching.) As far as hardware's concerned, no word or even hint about whether there will be a new handset and, if so, what it would look like. No surprise there, though. This was a "software event" after all, and Apple's not usually very generous with extra details on anything other than what they wanted to talk about.
Speaking of Gizmodo, here's a twist on the 3.0 news: The site published an interesting tidbit positing that the new update ? particularly the new rumble feature, among others ? could turn the phone into the best sex toy ever.
Let me go on the record as saying ? As crazy as I am about you guys, I'm not testing this for you. Don't get me wrong: I love creativity and all, but something about this ooks me. Besides, soon I and my brethren will have a lot of other goodies to play with.