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First Impressions: iPhone 3.0 on the original iPhone

Several of the highly-touted features of iPhone 3.0 will not be available on the original iPhone. Auto-focus camera lens, video recording and editing, and voice control are all hardware specific features available on the iPhone 3G S. Here's what to expect

Like most of the Apple fanboys out there, I anxiously awaited the arrival of the latest iPhone software upgrade to 3.0. And, like my fellow nerds, I continuously clicked the "Check for Updates" button in iTunes starting around 9:55 a.m. Pacific (in case Apple released the update early). Finally, around 10:15 a.m., I got the notification that new software was available to download - here's what I think so far:

As was mentioned in the title, I have the original iPhone. Because the update is optimized for the newest hardware, the iPhone 3G S, I knew many of the 3.0 software features would not apply to my device. However, even on my ancient (nearly two years old) handset I was able to find some great upgrades.

The first thing I had to check was the camera. Many of the 3.0 beta testers reported that the cameras on the older phones were much...snappier, and I can confirm that. Everything from loading the app to the shutter seems to have gained major speed improvements. The navigation system has changed a bit too - the "go to Photo Library" button has been replaced with a button that shows a thumbnail of the last photo you took. When pressed, you can examine your entire camera library. I don't know if it is taking better pictures or if I just want to believe it is, but certainly the faster shutter response makes the photos seem much sharper. You can even set your "double-click the home button" function to open the camera application.

Next up was inspecting Spotlight. A simple swipe to the right from your start page and you can begin your search. If you're not one to swipe, simply click the home button and you're ready to go. If you on a page other than the start page, click the home button twice. Spotlight works quickly and accurately finding information on my iPhone, although I noticed searching text messages was not an option. It's great for contacts and e-mail.

Speaking of text messages, you can now delete and/or forward from the edit button, one or multiple messages. Having to delete an entire conversation previously didn't seem logical if I only wanted to get rid of one particularly "not safe for work" message.

Safari has added the ability to close all windows, leaving only a blank page, waiting to be commissioned for surfing. One of my major annoyances with starting Safari in the past was having to stop the previously visited page from reloading before entering a new destination.

The newest addition to the "you cannot delete this app" family of useful built-in programs is Voice Memos. In true Apple fashion, it's sleek and simple and does exactly what it says. It records your voice and stores them as memos. Once your memo is stored you can tag it with a label, trim the bad parts out, or share it via e-mail.

And one last feature that may turn out to be a saving grace for another Apple service--Find My iPhone. This location, remote message, and remote wipe feature via MobileMe may end up revitalizing MobileMe's appeal. As a security feature, the ability to locate your iPhone (and wipe it completely if needed) makes MobileMe nearly essential - especially if you have a propensity for losing your phone. On my original iPhone, the locator was not very specific, letting me know that my iPhone was within a five-mile radius the office. I would imagine the GPS tracking on the iPhone 3G and 3G S are much more narrow. This is not as useful on the original iPhone, but I suppose it's still good to know if my phone has skipped town.

The other highly-touted features of iPhone 3.0 sadly will not be experienced by my original iPhone. Auto-focus camera lens, video recording and editing, and voice control are all hardware specific features available on the iPhone 3G S. And although I sorely covet those things to the point that I may actually throng about in the crowds at the local Apple Store on Friday simply to get a glimpse of the new features in action, the iPhone 3.0 update for my original iPhone is great.