The new iPhone 2.2 is here and we've been playing with it all night and morning. Like Apple says in their documentation, the stability and performance seems to have improved, but the spotlight falls on the new and improved Maps application, which has been polished up thanks to its public transportation and walking directions, as well as the smooth, fast Street View, and many other interface details. There are a lot of unexpected new features—no, no cut and paste—and fixes as well, and we've tried them all here:
Enhancements to Maps
• Public transport and walking mode: The most impressive part, at least for a public transport user like me, is the new public transport and walking directions mode. They work as you can expect, without many glitches. This mode has all the information you need, at least here in New York, and it showed me the fastest way to get from my house to Gawker offices (cleverly avoiding the damn 6, which is always arriving late for me).
Not only it showed the route clearly, with nice new icons, but it also gave something unexpected: subway timetables. As you can see in the gallery, it tells you what's the departure time for the next Manhattan-bound L train, telling you how many minutes you have to get there on time. It can also calculate the total time of your trip, which is always useful.
• Street view: It works great. You can't access street view by clicking on any place in the map, but the way Apple has implemented it kinda makes sense. When you do a search (or drop a pin) a new little guy icon will appear in the address pop-up. You just have to click on it and the map will zoom and smoothly change into Street View mode, rotating the display to the left automatically. From there you can navigate easily, using one finger to look around the panorama and clicking on the overlaid arrows to navigate. It works hot-butter-over-pancakes smooth. We'd like to be able to access the mode by just finding our current location and switching it on though.
• Other new features: When you drop a pin, it displays the exact address of the location. You can also share any location via email very easily, just by clicking on the location itself and hitting a Share this location button. It's a quick cut and paste substitute (of course, no cut and paste yet).
iTunes and App Store
• Podcasts over the air: As far as we can tell, they work flawlessly for both audio and video. I accessed the new feature and I was downloading podcasts in no time. Unfortunately, the artificially-imposed 3G network 10MB limit is easy to reach for video content, such as the TED Talks that download fine over Wi-Fi. One good thing: It leaves the podcasts in a queue so the next time you get into a Wi-Fi hot spot, they will download automagically.
• App store reorganisation: The UI has been sightly reorganised and polished. The categories, for example, now display bigger and with icons. As I speculated in our iPhone 2.2 rumour round-up, the icons shown seem to show the top free application.
• Resolved isolated issues with scheduled email: Wasn't able to test this one, as I don't use scheduled checking to save on battery life.
• Improving wide HTML email display: If you've ever encountered this problem, you'll know it's extremely annoying. When somebody sends you an HTML styled email, sometimes it displays very long lines and tiny text. I received a mail like that the other day from my sister and went immediately to try it. Unfortunately, the fix hasn't worked for me on that one, but it did work in another email I got from a company. Weird.
• Decreased in call set-up an call drops: Too soon to tell.
• Improved sound quality on Voicemail messages: I saw this yesterday so I went and tried them in 2.1. Indeed, there were pops and hisses. After the update I tried under 2.2 and yes, they do have better sound quality.
Other little additions
• Clicking the home button while you are in the home screen takes you to the first page of the home, which is very welcome, as that's where I store my main applications and I have several pages of additional apps and page links.
• Safari: They have streamlined the interface for address and search, like we already saw in previous leaks.
• Preference to turn auto-correction on and off: This is a welcome addition for me, because quite frankly, no matter what Jason says, my iPhone corrects fuck with duck every single time. So duck auto-correction for a little while. I'm going to ducking see if it affects my ducking speed or not.
Verdict: It works fairly well, feels smooth, and the new features are a must have—especially the new Maps application. Ducking good. Go get it now.