CNET's Donald Bell shows off some of his favorite new iPod media features, introduced with iPhone OS 3.0.
Apple's iPhone OS 3.0 provides several improvements to the way your iPhone or iPod Touch handles media playback.
One of the the most useful new features is Apple's Spotlight search, which is accessible directly from the main screen. Spotlight provides a means to search all of your content: music, email, apps, everything. Search results appear after typing only a few letters, and quickly refine themselves as you complete typing.
After you've located the file in Spotlight, selecting it will launch the file within its given app. From an iPod perspective, Spotlight provides the fastest access to finding and playing a specific song, with a minimum of clicks.
Within any music menu (artists, songs, albums, etc.), users can now pull downward to reveal a search box. This search works differently than the Spotlight search found on the main menu, restricting itself to searching only your music files.
The iTunes store experience on iPhone OS 3.0 has been expanded to include much more than just music and podcasts. Users can now directly download movies, TV episodes, music videos, audiobooks, and iTunes U educational content.
Just like the traditional iTunes store, many of the available movies offer a rental option, with typical prices ranging from $2.99-$4.99. Rentals expire 24 hours after starting the movie, with unwatched rentals expiring after 30 days.
Audiobooks and podcasts now include a 30-second back skip button, making it easy to repeat a passage you may have zoned out on. Both media types also include a button in the top-right corner of the screen for adjusting playback speed, which was previously only adjustable in the settings menu.
Podcasts now feature an envelope icon for e-mailing a podcast link to a contact. A link to the podcast's iTunes page can be found within each podcast's episode listing, allowing users to quickly download new episodes directly to the device.
Apple's Shake-to-Shuffle feature made its first appearance in the fourth-generation iPod Nano, providing a means to shuffle song playback by giving the device a firm shake. The feature is now available for the iPod Touch and iPhone with the OS 3.0 firmware upgrade, giving people a handy method for skipping songs with a minimum of fuss.
Don't worry, music won't suddenly start playing every time you take a leap onto the sidewalk. You'll need to already be playing music for the Shake-To-Shuffle feature to work.
The feature can be switched off within the Music settings menu.