The Complete Guide to Using iOS 4

iOS 4 is here for iPhone and iPod touch. You’re probably downloading right now. Here’s what you need to know to get the most out of iOS 4.

First off, have you actually upgraded? If not, Here’s how.

Here are all the new things that are in iOS 4, and how you can try them. While you’re trying this, go and download the apps updated for iOS 4.

The Complete Guide to Using iOS 4

The big one. Here’s how you try it.

  1. Open the phone app
  2. Hit the home button once, then open Safari and go to any site
  3. Double tap the home button, which will bring up a little menu tray
  4. Select one of the “open” apps to switch directly to it

You can also swipe left and right to scroll through the different “pages” of apps you have open. If your app is multitasking-enabled, it will resume exactly where you left off. Games will continue from pause mode, web pages will be where you left them, music will continuously play even while you’re in another app, and so forth. The standard multitasking benefits.

So yes, this allows you to listen to Pandora in the background while you do other stuff. Well, as long as you grab that new version of Pandora. Strangely enough, YouTube backgrounding does not work, even though I remember specifically talks of that working. Not sure what happened there, or if the YouTube app needs an update.

The big picture is you can do a lot of stuff now that you couldn’t do before. You can have a Skype phone call and use your phone simultaneously, have a GPS turn-by-turn navigation app keep your place and keep routing you even while you go and send a text message, or even just load up a web page and have it full in in the background while you go change a song.

To close a running app

Steve Jobs doesn’t recommend that you even deal with closing running apps, because the phone will take care of it automatically. But if you want to shut off Pandora, or AIM, or anything else that’s running in the background and giving you alerts or doing something you want to end, here’s what you do.

  1. Double tap the home button from any app
  2. Press and hold on an app icon. The dismiss “minus” icon will pop up on each app and the icons will start shaking
  3. Click the minus icon to kill an app. You can do so repeatedly for all the apps you want to close.
  4. To get out of this mode, hit the home The Complete Guide to Using iOS 4

The hell of countless app screens is finally gone—or at least manageable in a sloppy way now. The folders in iOS 4.0 aren’t perfect but they help organization just a bit and they’re simple to use.

All you need to do is press-and-hold any app to trigger rearranging app icons and you’ll be able to drag them onto each other to create folders. Done. Your iPhone will even automatically suggest a name for the folder based on the type of apps you’re sticking in there (though you can change that with a tap).

Folders aren’t exactly perfect though. They fit twelve apps, but only show tiny versions of 9. Once opened, folders show apps in rows of four—which leaves a net nine-app folder looking awkward once open. No matter though, we’re content with being tossed at least a scrap here and hope that future iOS upgrades will address the some of the shortcomings of folders.

It’s not surprising, but it’s good to know that you can in fact stick folders into the dock.

The Complete Guide to Using iOS 4

We’re glad to see that the Mail app received a bit of a feature makeover of sorts. All the new changes appear to be in response to complaints we’ve had our heard from other iPhone users.

The email threading feature is surprisingly solid. When you’ve got it turned on, emails will be grouped by replies—like in Gmail for example—and you’ll see a little number indicator next to the most messages in your inbox to show you how long a thread is. Tap that most recent message and all others will pop up.

Speaking of Gmail! Those users will be happy to see that the “delete” button that shows up after a swipe has turned into an “archive” button. Makes things just a bit more logical.

We’re also happy to see that there are now “smart” links in emails now. This means that you can tap on dates to add events to your calendar, press tracking numbers to pull up the UPS website, or open the Maps app when there’s an address included.

And the best change to the Mail app? The long-awaited unified inbox. You can finally view emails by inbox or in one large dump. When replying to a message from the unified inbox, your iPhone will automatically use the correct email account.

The Complete Guide to Using iOS 4

New iPod multitasking controls

The Complete Guide to Using iOS 4
While you can no longer get a pop-up set of iPod controls by double-tapping the home button, you do have a decent replacement in the multi-tasking drawer. By swiping over to the very left of the drawer, you’ll be able to access some minimal iPod controls next to the orientation lock. Play/pause, forward, back. It’s just enough to make some quick adjustments to song selection, but we still miss the old pop-up-style controls a bit.

The Complete Guide to Using iOS 4

That book e-reader program that’s already out on iPad is coming to iPhone! (Yay.) But it’s not built in. (Wha?) You have to hit the App Store and manually download the iBooks app. It’s free. Maybe for competitive purposes? Who knows.

In any case, you can sync ePub and PDF books directly from iTunes by using the iBooks section. If you have books in other formats other than ePub, use calibre to convert them.

Game Center

The Xbox Live-like social networking game infrastructure that supercedes all the community-created ones is not here yet! It’ll hit some time after launch, once developers integrate it into their systems and Apple finishes building it. But, it should give you a pretty good unified system for communicating with your friends over various games, as well as allowing you to do game recommendations (and invitations). It’s definitely something we’re looking forward to.

The Complete Guide to Using iOS 4

If you have an iPhone 3GS or a late-model iPod Touch, you can set backgrounds for your home screen. Like on the iPad. Here’s how.

  1. Go to Settings
  2. Tap Wallpaper
  3. Tap on the two icons that represent your two current homescreen/lockscreen wallpapers
  4. Choose a picture from either the Wallpapers list that Apple included, or use one of your own photos from your photo album
  5. Decide whether you want it on your lock screen, your home screen, or Both
  6. Hit the home button to see your new home screen

The Complete Guide to Using iOS 4

Keep in mind that this is digital zoom, so the already-wanting quality of the iPhone 3G/3GS camera will get even worse when you go 5x bigger. This is no enhance, enhance, enhance magic.

But to do so, just open up the Camera app, tap somewhere on the middle of the screen and the slider will appear. Slide it right to zoom, left to un-crappify. Note, zooming doesn’t work on videos, where you can only tap to focus, but not zoom.

The Complete Guide to Using iOS 4

Pairing a Bluetooth keyboard—almost any Bluetooth keyboard, not just the slender Apple-branded kind—is as simple as pairing any other Bluetooth device. Turn the keyboard on, turn on Bluetooth, let your phone detect the keyboard, and tap a few numbers. Done. It works quite well, though it takes a while to get used to not having the on-scree keyboard pop-up while a Bluetooth one is connected.

The Complete Guide to Using iOS 4

The Complete Guide to Using iOS 4

You can now tether your phone to your computer over USB or Bluetooth. But how? The first step is turning on tethering on your account, which you can do by going toatt.com/mywireless and enrolling in the tethering plan. It’s an extra $20 a month, and you get to share whatever data plan you have on your phone with your computer.

Charging an extra $20 just for the privilege of using the same data you’re already using on another device seems seems pretty lame, but that’s a gripe for another time.

iAds

What, you’re in such a hurry to look at ads on your iPhone? You’ll have to cool it for a bit, because the ads themselves aren’t available until July 1. What you can do, though, is opt-out of the targeting portion of the ads by going to oo.apple.com, but that isn’t live until July 1 either.

What we still didn’t get (and want in iOS 5)

  • SMS tone customization. Seriously! C’mon!’
  • Facebook integration, or any kind of cloud-contact syncing
  • iTunes cloud streaming, direct from an iTunes.com
  • Better multitasking, because only having four icons visible at once is arbitrarily clumsy. Why swipe through so many apps to find the one to “quickly” switch to
  • solution to the modal popup problem. I don’t want to be locked out of what I’m doing whenever I get an IM
  • Widgets in the multitasking tray
  • A lock screen that shows email count, IM count, SMS count and other info to be determined by the user
  • Home screen widgets even
  • Free turn-by-turn application (Android can do it, why not one for iPhone)
  • Ability to remove Apple’s default apps
  • Horizontal homescreen
  • Ability to disable spotlight searching entirely, for both privacy reasons and for clumsy-swiping reasons
  • iChat mobile, with FaceTime on iPhone 4 somehow worked in to video chat with desktops
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