introduced version 3.1 of the iPhone OS for the iPhone and iPod touch. While there are a number of small tweaks and new features in this update, for the most part, the new firmware enables support for the new features that iTunes 9 introduced today, including Genius mixes and premade ringtones. One feature we were really looking for, support for augmented reality (AR) apps, will only be semi-supported in this new version, though at least some AR apps that were previously impossible to implement on the iPhone will now be feasible.At its annual iPod event today, Apple
Together with the iTunes 9 update, the iPhone 3.1 firmware now allows users to download over 30,000 ringtones for four major labels at $1.29 each. iTunes 9 also finally introduces a better way to manage and rearrange apps on the iPhone or touch. In addition, iPhone and iPod touch users can now tap into the Genius Mixes that iTunes 9 introduced today.
In the App Store on the phone, Apple will now also give users recommendations for other apps. We only got a short time to test this feature, and it seemed to work well so far, but we will hold back our final judgment until we get to test it for a bit longer.
Other new features include the ability to save videos from the Mail and MMS app. MMS, of course, isn't available in the US yet, though according to some reports, options for MMS are now available in the settings in anticipation of AT&T's launch of MMS for the iPhone.
Also new in 3.1 are the ability to use voice control for the iPhone 3GS over Bluetooth, calendar notifications that now display a 'location' field, and the ability to pass phone numbers into the phone app's dialer (the app will automatically convert alphanumeric numbers like 1-800-CALLRWW into real phone numbers). The phone now also vibrates while a user moves icons around on the screen.
What About Augmented Reality?
As for Augmented Reality, Apple gave users (and developers) the impression that the 3.1 firmware would provide support for AR apps. However, as Orin Inbar points out on Games Alfresco, 3.1 only brings 'semi support' for AR apps. Wile developers can now overlay graphics on a live video stream, it is still not possible for developers to actually analyze the live video stream. Many AR apps like ARSights track markers or objects and then replace them with their own info. On the iPhone, this is currently only supported through a private API and, as Inbar notes, chances are that Apple won't allow such an app into the store.
On the other hand, though, apps that don't need this functionality and only need to be able to overlay text over a video such as Layar or Wikitude should now be a possibility on the iPhone after they already made their debut on Android quite a while ago.
Here is Apple's own list of all the other updates in iPhone 3.1:
- Improved syncing for music, movies, TV shows, podcasts, and photos
- iTunes U content organization
- Redeem iTunes Gift Cards, codes, and certificates in the App Store
- Display available iTunes account credits in the App Store and iTunes Store
- Save video from Mail and MMS into Camera Roll
- Option to "Save as new clip" when trimming a video on iPhone 3GS
- Better iPhone 3G Wi-Fi performance when Bluetooth is turned on
- Remotely lock iPhone with a passcode via MobileMe
- Use Voice Control on iPhone 3GS with Bluetooth headsets
- Paste phone numbers into the keypad
- Option to use Home button to turn on accessibility features on iPhone 3GS
- Warn when visiting fraudulent websites in Safari (anti-phishing)
- Improved Exchange calendar syncing and invitation handling
- Fixes issue that causes some app icons to display incorrectly