Apple's announcement of its official 3.0 firmware release for the iPhone and iTouch line of products was met with a mixed dose of excitement and unhappiness: Some welcomed long-awaited features like copy-and-paste functionality and stereo Bluetooth, while others decried that Apple just hasn't done enough to stay competitive against the Androids and Blackberries of the mobile world. Here's looking at you, background-running functionality.
Regardless of your beliefs about the success or failure of the 3.0 firmware, you don't have to wait until this summer to try out all the new features. That's because a number -- if not a majority -- of these added benefits are already available via third-party and Apple Store applications. Don't believe us? Jailbreak your iPhone and check out our list:
A note about jailbreaking: Jailbreaking your iPhone can allow it to do many things that the built-in software, and software distributed through the App Store, can't yet do. But keep in mind that jailbreaking will technically void your warranty, is a legal gray area as of this writing, and could potentially result in other problems, so jailbreak at your own risk.
Copy-and-paste functionality is coming to the 3.0 firmware. Apple's version will undoubtedly prove to be more feature-rich than anything on the third-party market right now, but you can still tap into text-based copy and pasting using the free Cydia application Clippy. No photo support yet--or likely ever.
According to Apple, the new Spotlight search feature will allow you to look through all of the information that's contained on your iPhone, analogous to how Spotlight works in OSX. We've got a Cydia-based application for that, too: QuickGold. Not only can you launch your iPhone applications with the touch of a button, but you can search through your contacts, text messages, Web clips, search history... and even Google!
Much-awaited, the ability to bridge an iPhone's Internet connection with a PC or laptop is still in the planning stages at Apple. Apple promises the functionality will be available in the 3.0 firmware update, but there's now word as to what (if anything) AT&T might charge for additional bandwidth costs. If you're rocking a PC, then the Cydia application PdaNet is your all-in-one tethering system. Just hook your iPhone to your computer via USB cable and run the accompanying applications on both the iPhone and PC sides. Another option is Addition's iPhoneModem 2
While we couldn't find an all-in-one app that opens up an iPhone to landscape keyboard interaction across all its apps, we did find a few that make this work across specific applications. Check out the Cydia-based application iRealSMS or BiteSMS for landscape-based SMS messaging, and the iPhone Store-based TouchType for e-mail landscape typing. Unfortunately, none of these three applications are free. You win this round, Apple.
Sending a a multimedia text message instead of using the iPhone's built-in e-mail makes us scratch our heads, but Apple is nevertheless building this feature into the iPhone 3.0 firmware. The Cydia-based, $8 application SwirlyMMS is one of the better apps that mimic this functionality, but it doesn't work very well (if at all) on the AT&T carrier. You could always just e-mail the number of the person you're trying to reach, which would convert the multimedia portion of your message into an MMS on their end. Your friends could either send you an e-mail in return, or you could use the $4 application Get MMS--found on the official App Store--to view and save incoming MMS messages without having to use AT&T's Web interface.
On the next page: Calendar Subscriptions, Stocks, Bluetooth file transfers, and synchronized notes!