As soon as it was available last Monday, I updated my iPhone 3GS with iOS 4, Apple's revamped mobile operating system. I resisted writing about it immediately, as an OS is no small thing and it takes time to form a proper opinion. So was it worth the hype? Here are my reflections after over a week's use.
Speed: First things first, iOS 4 is noticeably quicker on my phone. It feels as if it's been cleaned and oiled, apps open faster and everything seems to have added zip.
Multitasking: Double tapping the home button pops up the apps that are running at the time. I never thought it was that necessary, as apps opened and closed really quickly anyway. However, for those apps that do have a longer loading time and don't save their state on exit, this is a great idea. Unfortunately, not all apps support it yet - The Guardian's app, for example, still won't restart on the page you left it. Over time, multitasking should be better supported, but at the moment it's not that impressive.
Folders: These are great - you can easily create folders of apps, which saves bunches of space while looking good too. I now only need two pages for all my apps, which is great.
Wallpaper: I was skeptical about this before I saw it, and I'm still not sure. The supplied wallpapers range from boring to horrible - in my opinion - and black still looks like the best background to me.
Camera: The added digital zoom feels good, but digitally zoomed images are never that great, as you'll see if you zoom in as far as possible. It doesn't work with video, either.
Playlists: This is better! Finally we can create playlists directly from the iPhone! This makes the iPod player feel much more useful, as syncing with iTunes just to add a playlist was a pain.
Stability: Never an issue with 3.x, I now get occasional crashes in some apps, even in some native ones like Safari. I'm hoping that these will be ironed out by iOS 4.1 - although it's an excellent upgrade overall, the introduction of crashing and hanging isn't welcome!
Overall, the good developments outweigh the niggles, and I'm especially pleased it runs so quickly, as my main worry was that it might only run well on the new iPhone 4. Multitasking is the biggest let down, as it barely changes my experience at all.
I do think iOS 4 keeps Apple at least one step ahead of Android, which is still not quite as smooth or user friendly. It will be interesting to see who ups the ante next!