Apple iOS 4 review: Getting there

GSMArena team, 25 June 2010.
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Phonebook – faster contact adding, but still no social integration

The iOS phonebook hasn’t changed one bit, you’d think upon a casual look. It’s the same as Apple had it back on the first iPhone. OK, almost. There is one thing they did fix after all – the Edit Contact interface.

All those annoying buttons for adding new phone/email/address/etc. are now replaced with text fields. You will never again be redirected to a new entry page, all contact’s details are filled directly on the main screen. Yes, it was about time.

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The new contact create/edit screen

What we really miss in the iPhone’s Contacts app is the social integration. Most of the Androids, and even some feature phones, out there have already taken full advantage of enabling Facebook and Twitter right in their Contact lists, complete with profile and status updates.

We really hope Apple decide to implement this in the upcoming iOS 4 updates, instead putting it out for iOS 5 or later.

SMS search and character counter, Email threading and archiving

Steve Jobs mentioned nothing at the unveiling (and with very good reasons), but this doesn’t mean the messaging app hasn’t got any new features.

The first one is the SMS character counter, which honestly just took too long. It’s there finally, but to use it you need to activate it in the messaging settings first, because it’s disabled by default. Strange, isn’t it?

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SMS counter • Message options

The second upgrade brings SMS search. The search bar is placed above all your conversations and works like a charm. This was another missing feature that earned Apple much criticism.

iOS 4 packs some major modifications in the Email department – an aggregated inbox, thread support and email archive.

The aggregated inbox (called All Inboxes) brings all messages from all your email accounts in one place. Some may find this feature useless, or at least messy – there’re no account labels. It has its uses anyway and we are happy to see it in iOS 4.

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The aggregated email view

Email threading is also enabled and works just like the conversations in the Messages app. All emails you exchange with a given contact are grouped in a single thread. A numeric indicator on the Email main screen shows the number of emails stored in every thread.

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Email threading

Finally, comes the Archive option. It’s only available when you sync with Gmail. You can choose between Archive or Delete as the default action in the Email options. If you select Archive you’ll never lose an email. It will be archived instead and available for later access.

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Turning Archive on • Archive instead of Delete

Apple thought about users who have installed additional office applications. If you want to open an email attachment with another app instead of Quick Look, you just need to tap and hold on it. A menu with the available options will appear. Obviously not all third-party apps are compatible with the feature – we didn’t get even one to show up in this context menu.

By the way, we couldn't find a sign of the rumored USB file transfer feature that was supposed to be available in desktop iTunes dubbed as File Sharing. We first heard of it a month ago based on a beta version of the iOS 4.

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Attachments options: open with

Another major addition is the spell checking service. It works in the relevant places such as Messages, Email, Safari, Notes, etc. Every unknown word gets underlined in red and a tap on it reveals the suggestions.

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The spell checker

The automatic correction is still available and works as well as in the previous iOS versions.

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