There was more news today from Apple's WWDC than just the announcement of the iPhone 3G. CEO Steve Jobs also announced the iPhone 2.0 software update. Available to current iPhone and iPod Touch owners, the software update adds several new features that are interesting, if not extraordinary. Indeed, I warmly welcome the addition of Microsoft Exchange server support and the third-party applications, but I was hoping for a lot more. The software update will be available in early July; iPhone users will get it for free while iPod Touch users will pay $9.95. Here's a summary of what we'll see.
As promised last March, the iPhone will support the Microsoft Exchange server. That means you'll be able to get push e-mail, contacts, and calendar. This is a big win for corporate users who have iPhones but have had to carry another device (like a BlackBerry) to access their work e-mail. Other new features will include auto-discovery, global contacts access, and remote wipe.
The new software also adds full access to the iPhone apps store, which is also set to open in early July. The new applications range from games that integrate with the phone's accelerometer to a mobile version of eBay. We saw a number of apps demonstrated today.
Currently on the iPhone you can locate contacts only by browsing your entire phone book. Now you'll be able to locate exactly the friend you want, which is particularly useful if you're popular.
iWork documents and PowerPoint
That's right, you'll get access to documents created in iWork. And for the presentation-happy, you'll be able to read, but not edit, PowerPoint attachments.
Bulk delete and move
This is a pretty simple feature, but it's one the iPhone needed. It can get pretty tiresome to delete individual items from a list so we're glad to see that Apple took pity on us.
Now you'll be able to save photos sent as e-mail attachments directly to your photo library.
Jobs said a lot of people asked for this and frankly, I'm wondering who they are. When you're using the calculator and you tip the phone to its side, you'll get more buttons and a landscape orientation.
Jobs didn't expand on what we'll see here. We'll report back when the software update is available.
This is exciting for our friends abroad. The software update will bring language support in French, German, Japanese, Dutch, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, Danish, Finnish, Norwegian, Swedish, Korean, Simplified Chinese, Traditional Chinese, Russian, and Polish. You'll also be able to use a graffiti-style application for entering characters in Asian languages.
So what's missing?
It continues to baffle me why Apple won't add multimedia messaging and video recording. Those features are available on even the simplest phones that you can get free from a carrier. Voice dialing would be another huge win and I'd love to see a landscape keyboard for composing e-mails and messages, cut and paste, and a stereo Bluetooth profile. I know I was dreaming when I wished for a user-replaceable battery, a memory card slot, and tactile feedback for the touch screen, but the other omissions I just can't forgive. And now that the original iPhone is being sent out to pasture in favor of the 3G model, it never will.