The iPhone 2.2 software update, a hands-on report

Glaskowsky installs the 2.2 software update on his iPhone 3G and checks to see if any of the improvements he was hoping for were included. The new software batted about 1 for 30, but it works reliably and does add some nice features.

Peter Glaskowsky
Peter N. Glaskowsky is a computer architect in Silicon Valley and a technology analyst for the Envisioneering Group. He has designed chip- and board-level products in the defense and computer industries, managed design teams, and served as editor in chief of the industry newsletter "Microprocessor Report." He is a member of the CNET Blog Network and is not an employee of CNET. Disclosure.
Peter Glaskowsky
3 min read

Just hours after I posted my WTF report (for "where's the feature," of course) on the iPhone 3G with version 2.1 software, Apple released the 2.2 update. I figured I ought to go through my post and see if any of the things I mentioned were addressed in the update.

But the short summary is: not much has changed. The new 2.2 software, as described on Apple's main page for iPhone updates, is mostly about internal quality.

Apple describes only four areas of new features for US users: an improved Google Maps application, direct downloading of podcasts from the iTunes Store, the ability to turn off auto-correction when typing, and using the Home button to return to the first Home screen from other Home screens.

Apple's iPhone 3G
Apple's iPhone 3G Apple

Only that last change addresses one of my issues. It's a bolder change than what I suggested (allowing the screens to slide around from last to first in a circular fashion), and a bigger improvement, I think. It makes the first Home screen distinctly more convenient than the others, and I suspect this new feature will influence how I distribute applications across the available screens.

That said, it would still be useful to add the wraparound scrolling feature I described. It would save time-- and more importantly, reduce the chance of accidentally opening an unwanted application-- when accessing the later screens.

I tested the other issues I reported last week, and I didn't see any changes. I haven't had time to decide if the new software is more reliable, but I've had few problems with reliability anyway. I've seen my share of browser crashes, but Safari restarts more conveniently on the iPhone than it does on my Macs, so that hasn't been a big thing for me.

I'd like to thank CNET user IgnatiusTheKing for pointing out, in a comment to my previous post, that accented characters and some special symbols can be generated by holding down keys on the virtual keyboard. This works for accentable characters (such as "e" but not "x") and a few punctuation symbols (such as ! and ? to generate the inverted versions used in written Spanish, and $ to generate international currency symbols such as the pound, yen, and euro).

But as far as I can tell, there's still no way to get proper n-dashes and m-dashes, math symbols such as ×, ÷, and π, and other useful characters.

Also, I learned that Japanese iPhone users with the 2.2 software have access to a set of "emoji" symbols-- complex emoticons popular among Japanese users. (Back in October, MacRumors.com showed some of these symbols as found in the 2.2 beta, here.)

These emoji are also present in the US 2.2 update, but can't be generated from the US English keyboard, at least not without doing some hacking. One more reason for a little more typographical flexibility, I think.

So, anyway, I think there's still a lot of room for improvement in the iPhone software, good though it already is. I'll just keep hoping someone at Apple notices these posts and makes the changes I'd like to see.

Incidentally, before installing the 2.2 update, I checked around online to see if people were having any serious problems with it-- always a good idea, I think. I found scattered reports of various problems, but I went ahead with the update since it didn't look like there were any specific widespread issues.

After the update I tested for all of the reported problems, and was unable to replicate any of them on my iPhone. Everything seems to be fine. I can't promise it'll go as smoothly for everyone else, but this seems to be a pretty safe update.