Hands-on: Top five iPhone OS 3.0 features

iPhone lover Nate and Apple sceptic Ian get hands-on with the five best features of the iPhone's new operating system

Nate Lanxon Special to CNET News
3 min read

We're sure you know the iPhone's new 3.0 OS has been released, ramping up the phone and its iPod touch brethren with dozens of new features. In fact, our resident Apple fanboy, Ian Morris, has actually conceded that it may be the greatest piece of technology he's ever used.

So, just before we publish our epic full review, let's look at what we think are the five most compelling features the new OS brings to the proverbial table.

iTunes video downloads

One of our favourite new features is actually the revamped iTunes Store, from which you can now rent, purchase, download and watch movies and TV shows right on the phone. Unlike MMS, copy and paste and phone-wide search, this is something no other phone has ever been able to achieve. We rented Ghostbusters II this morning -- only 99p! -- and downloaded the 1.2GB file directly to the phone over Wi-Fi.

Nate 'n' Ian say:
Nate: "Rentals will rock when planes are delayed, but I'd like a streaming option for space reasons."
Ian: "Watching a a film on a screen that size is pointless."

Spotlight search

The Spotlight search feature indexes every song, email, app and piece of personal data on your iPhone, and offers instant results as you type in a query. It works exactly like Spotlight does in OS X. This should've been implemented from OS 1.0, but being able to finally search the contents of thousands of Exchange email conversations is a feature better late than never. It's fast, and gives damn near instant results.

Nate 'n' Ian say:
Nate: "Email search, for me, is the exact opposite of Duffy: I like that it exists very much."
Ian: "It's exactly the same as the phone-wide search on my N95, only three years late."

Find My iPhone

You'll need a £59-a-year subscription to Apple's Mobile Me service. But we've tested the GPS-powered service which pinpoints your lost iPhone on a map, and this morning at least, it worked perfectly. Flora 'lost' her iPhone on purpose earlier, and logging into Mobile Me told her it was somewhere in Lavington Street. Incredible -- that's where Crave Towers is! It must, one could conclude, be in the office. What we're yet to discover is how well this works when locked in a box, and for that, we await Flora's review.

Nate 'n' Ian say:
Nate: "This is probably the best reason to actually use Mobile Me."
Ian: "What good is it if I lost my phone in America? I can't get there to pick it up, can I?"

Stereo Bluetooth

This is something the iPhone 3G has been physically capable of since its release, but required this new software to unlock its functionality. Sound quality over stereo Bluetooth is not great, and suffers mild distortion compared to the N95, which we tested it against. For now, we're going to continue recommending you use wired headphones.

Nate 'n' Ian say:
Nate: "For music, I don't care. Bluetooth sound quality sucks even on the best device in the world."
Ian: "As much of a waste of time as it is on every phone."

Cut, copy and paste

The most requested feature for the iPhone? Could well've been. You can copy text and images, switch between apps -- say, from Safari to Mail -- and paste the whole lot somewhere else. It's an elegant way to manage text selection, and as Apple allows developers to incorporate the API into their own apps, expect to see stuff copy-and-pastable between email, social network apps and Twitter clients in the near future. It's one of the best copy and paste interfaces on any phone.

Nate 'n' Ian say:
Nate: "I'll need it maybe once a month, but that's what I say about Londis, so I guess that's a win."
Ian: "As someone who has been copying and pasting successfully on phones for years, this is not relevant to my interests."

What are your favourite new features? Let us know below.