Wednesday, June 23rd, 2010

My iOS4 impressions (on a jailbroken iPhone 3G)


iOS4 has arrive, and many 3GS and iPhone 4 nerds will soon be able to enjoy multitasking, HD video and video calls on their shiny new (and newish) Apple phones. For cheap bums like myself, however, iOS4 becomes more of a question. Is the download worth it for a phone that, at least in Apple’s view, is somewhat underpowered? I would say it is worth it to upgrade.

When I first upgraded my iPhone 3G to iOS4, it was locked, untouched and following the rules. Apple insist that the phone lacks enough power to handle multitasking and customizable background wallpapers (!), so those options aren’t included. You also have to download iBooks as an app (more on that later.) What you do get is Folders, a truly wonderful feature where you can group similar apps together and cut down the clutter on your pages. I’ve dwindled my pages from 8 scattered app piles to 3 highly organized slabs of goodness.

You also reap the benefits of a more finely tuned mailbox, which allows for threaded conversations and implements a unified mailbox, if you want to use such a thing.

But if you jailbreak the 3G, you get nearly everything.

Of course, you can’t shoot video with a 3G, and you won’t be able to use iMovie on the phone. Likewise you can’t take advantage on the excellent new camera inside the iPhone 4. But practically everything else iOS4 brings to the table works on a jailbroken 3G. Multitasking works, as does custom background wallpaper, rotation lock and all the other features advertised for the higher end phones. I haven’t been able to get the phone to recognize my Bluetooth keyboard, but I’m betting that has less to do with iOS4 than Bluetooth itself. Once you jailbreak, you also have access to Cydia apps, which sometimes give you more flexibility than Apple allows on its phone. Eventually I’ll be able to unlock the phone as well, which will be invaluable once we take off to Tokyo in September.

Which begs the question, why upgrade at all to iPhone 4? Well, though all of iOS4’s features work on my 3G, it is fairly sluggish. Moving to iPhone 4 would mean a tremendous speed increase, as well as access to video and Face Time. Is it worth the cost? Eventually, yes. For right now…my modified 3G will serve my needs.

Warren Frey is a journalist, freelance writer, podcaster, video producer, and all-around media consultant currently based in Vancouver, Canada. His written work has appeared in such publications as Metro Vancouver, the Westender, Mac | Life and the Japan Times.

2 Responses to “ My iOS4 impressions (on a jailbroken iPhone 3G) ”

John Biehler says:

Great overview from the 3G owner perspective Warren….it’s worth mentioning that the iPhone version of iMovie will only be available for iPhone 4 owners and not backwards compatible (even for 3GS)….could be the start of the cut off from an app perspective.

Warren Frey says:

I’m betting it will be just the start of app-artheid. As the phone and the pad get more powerful, and as more and more of the general populace has some form of iPhone, Apple will have to find ways to create a higher-end experience, and I think we’re seeing the start of that right now.

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