As if it wasn’t enough to introduce the sickest mini MP3 player/Video camera/Radio ever and a gorgeous new version of iTunes, Steve Jobs had to throw in an iPhone OS update for good measure. For those of you who missed our live feed, here’s an overview of what the iPhone OS 3.1 update contained:
Genius Recommendations for Apps
Mad props to our own MG Siegler for calling this a few weeks ago. Genius recommendations come straight to your iPhone through the in-phone App Store. Now, alongside the “What’s New” and “What’s Hot” in the Featured section of the App Store is a “Genius” section. Basically, it takes apps you’ve already got and gives you recommendations of other apps that you might want to get. Fortunately, it doesn’t simply provide you with what apps “Customers of [X app you own] also downloaded.” That would be uber lame since that feature already exists in the iTunes Store.
Instead, it actually provides you recommendations that are dissimilar from the app you have but related. For example, I’ve got WordPress on my iPhone. Instead of giving me access to other blogging apps, it recommends similar utility apps such as BeejiveIM 3.0 and Twitterrific Premium. On my first pass, this looked great and I got some solid recommendations. Upon further inspection, though, a few of the recommendations seemed a bit from left field. Based on my owning Button (disclaimer: made by our own Greg Kumparak), it recommended Service Bell, which, frankly, is not at all related to Button in any way except that they are both free apps.
Only time will tell whether the Genius feature for apps actually works or not, but to be honest, who cares? Better that it exists than it doesn’t. How else will you sift through the 70,000 apps and counting?
iTunes Genius now comes with a new feature: it automatically makes 12 playlists for you. In the past, Genius would make playlists only if you provided it with a sample song. Then, iTunes’s Genius feature would go and pick other songs in your library similar to that sample song and create a playlist for you. This worked pretty well for some, but now they’ve beefed it up a bit. You no longer have to provide a sample song. All you have to do is fire up iTunes and hit the Genius Mixes button on the left taskbar. Bam. You’ve got genre-based mixes (or playlists) that you can then pull onto your iPhone/iPod to enjoy on-the-go.
Wirelessly Downloadable Ringtones
Let’s face it: the iPhone ringtone is classic, but now that everyone has one, you can’t always know if its your phone ringing or your co-worker’s. Problem solved, says Jobs. You’ve now got the ability to wirelessly download ringtones to your phone. A long time coming, I say, but a welcome addition to the iPhone features list nonetheless. I went ahead and tested it out – the process was fairly simple, though the downloading took a bit longer than expected (I was on wi-fi). As soon as you download the new ringtone, your iPhone prompts you with the option to make it your default ringtone or just the ringtone of a specific contact. Obviously, you can go into Settings on your phone and change your ringtone. Or you can go into Contacts and assign specific ringtones for your favorite friends, your boo or whoever else you’ve got in your address book.
Improved App Organization straight from iTunes
We’ve already covered this, so I’ll spare you the details. Basically, you can now manage all of your iPhone App pages directly through iTunes. Juggle them around. Delete the bad ones. Add old ones. Whatever your little heart desires.
Of course, there are a lot more improvements than the ones mentioned above. Here’s the full list from Apple:
iPhone OS 3.1 also includes these features and updates:
* Improved syncing for music, movies, TV shows, podcasts, and photos
* iTunes U content organization
* Redeem iTunes Gift Cards, codes, and certificates in the App Store
* Display available iTunes account credits in the App Store and iTunes Store
* Save video from Mail and MMS into Camera Roll
* Option to “Save as new clip” when trimming a video on iPhone 3GS
* Better iPhone 3G Wi-Fi performance when Bluetooth is turned on
* Remotely lock iPhone with a passcode via MobileMe
* Use Voice Control on iPhone 3GS with Bluetooth headsets
* Paste phone numbers into the keypad
* Option to use Home button to turn on accessibility features on iPhone 3GS
* Warn when visiting fraudulent websites in Safari (anti-phishing)
* Improved Exchange calendar syncing and invitation handling
* Fixes issue that cause some app icons to display incorrectly