Apple OS 4 update not that great


This week, Apple released its much anticipated software update called OS 4. It is intended for iPhone, iPad and iPod owners and is the same operating system that will be used in the new iPhone 4 which will be available in the U.S. starting tomorrow and most other countries in the weeks and months to come. iPhone owners will have various levels of new features depending on the version of phone they have.

For instance, the iPhone 3GS has all the features built in to the software update that the iPhone 4 will have, however, the iPhone 3G will not have the multitasking feature, home screen wallpapers and ability to connect to a Bluetooth keyboard. When this software update was originally announced over two months ago and in all the official announcements about it since then, it was always stated that the iPhone 3G will not have multitasking because the hardware simply can not handle it. That is fine, it makes sense and no one can really complain about that. However, all 3G owners were really looking forward to having wallpapers on the home screens of their iPhones. There is no way on earth that Apple can say that the hardware on the iPhone 3G can not handle that, because it doesn’t require any special hardware at all.

In fact, I have personally seen dozens of “jail broken” iPhone 3G phones that have all kinds of custom skins and home screen wallpapers. Now this is not actually legal to do so I don’t recommend it, but it certainly shows that the technology in the phone can easily handle home screen wallpapers.

So, now that it is clear that iPhone 3G owners are not going to be able to change their home screens’ wallpaper for reasons other than the acceptable fact that their hardware can’t handle it, then the question has to be: Why would Apple do this?

I can’t presume to know the answer for sure, but I suspect the reason is to nudge 3G owners to upgrade their phones to the new iPhone 4 when it arrives. Although the wallpaper will do nothing to make the phone more functional or really make a strong case on its own to buy a new phone, the power of cosmetic changes in new technologies play a big role in how consumers perceive the technologies. Simply put, making the iPhone 3G look out of date will encourage its owners to want the new iPhone 4 as much, if not more than many functional upgrades that would actually make the phone more useful. That is human nature and Apple obviously understands it and is capitalizing on it.

Speaking of functional new features, the most anticipated part of this software update by far, was the ability to multitask. Unfortunately, this feature is a disappointment so far because it really only works well on native apps that come with the phone. For all other, non-Apple made apps, it really doesn’t allow for real multitasking at all. For those apps to work with this new feature, the developers for all the apps will need to update every single app separately. I’m guessing this will eventually happen, but it could take months for all of them to be updated. Until then, multitasking and thus, the OS 4 software update is nothing to write home about. For iPhone 3G owners however, you might want to consider writing Apple a complaint letter.

Oh yeah, for people living in Canada, you might want to include in your complaint letter to Apple that they did not give Canadians the ability to purchase e-books in the new iBooks app. That is a big deal and very wrong to treat Canadians different than Americans. It is something that needs to be fixed right away.