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iOS 4: Essential Early Reading

As with most major Apple releases, iOS 4 has unleashed an avalanche of reviews, discussions, and analysis, not to mention piles of news coverage. With so little time in the day, how does one manage to sift through all the coverage to find the most useful bits? Luckily for you, we here at TidBITS have already done plenty of sifting. Below you'll find links to practical articles covering everything from a basic introduction to advanced user tips.

Overviews -- Why should I upgrade to iOS 4? How do I even do that? Is it going to cost me anything? If you're asking basic questions like these, check out Macworld's piece "iOS 4: What You Need to Know." It covers all the essentials about Apple's latest operating system: the major features, compatibility issues, and the nuts and bolts of downloading and installing the update.

If, however, you're looking to go beyond the basics and want an in-depth review of iOS 4, Jacqui Cheng's tome at Ars Technica covers all the major changes, and many of the minor ones. Jacqui's review is a great place to sink your teeth into the details.

Focused Features -- While overviews are helpful, sometimes you want to zero in on a specific feature and read about its finer points, much as we did with iBooks ("iBooks 1.1 Adds PDF Support, Runs on All iOS Devices," 23 June 2010) and fast app switching ("What is Fast App Switching?," 23 June 2010). At Macworld, Dan Frakes has penned two great articles: one on using folders and another on changes in Mail.

In a similar vein, Ted Landau has a piece on multitasking in iOS 4 (or rather, the technical lack thereof) at The Mac Observer. While he takes a few swipes at Apple's implementation of the much-requested feature, his review is not entirely without praise (or helpful pointers).

Another feature you've probably been hearing a lot about is FaceTime, Apple's video conferencing app that works only on the iPhone 4. Dan Moren's article at Macworld takes you through the ins and outs of the feature, from basic controls to privacy features.

Finally, The Mac Observer's list of quick tips - recently dominated by iOS 4 material - contains helpful morsels of information. The latest ones have covered everything from resuming an interrupted upgrade to finding and using the Digital Zoom feature in iOS 4's Camera app.

Direct From Apple -- Users and journalists aren't the only ones participating in the conversation about iOS 4. Apple has gotten involved too, recently adding a new "Awesome iOS 4 Apps" section to the App Store that highlights apps that have been optimized and improved for iOS 4.

Apple has also now published the iOS 4 User Guide (PDF link) on its Web site. It contains over 200 pages worth of step-by-step instruction and overview for the latest features and functions of iOS 4, straight from the source. You can also find a portable version already on your phone: open Safari, tap the Bookmarks button, and locate the iPhone User Guide at the bottom of the Bookmarks list. Safari may request that it use 5 MB of the phone's storage space to store the data; tap the Allow button.

Just don't look for it to help you with iOS features that are confusing or don't work as advertised or are better implemented in third-party apps - that's the sort of thing our Take Control ebooks and other independent works aim to do.

Share With Us -- While the listings above are but a fraction of the current coverage of iOS 4, we hope they help you get started unlocking the potential of iOS 4. Be sure to let us know in the comments section if you've found any other helpful or interesting articles.


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Comments about iOS 4: Essential Early Reading
(Comments are closed.)

Harry Dennis  2010-06-28 22:04
I installed iOS 4 on my iPhone 3G. I wish I could uninstall easily. I like the improved mail, but little else I can see, and my phone is dramatically slower now in just about all it does.
Glenn Fleishman  2010-06-28 22:41
You can revert to an older version of iOS. I provide these instructions with no warranty: use at your own risk.

Download 3.1.3 for your phone via links on this page:

Copy the downloaded file to a location you want on the same machine as you use iTunes for syncing your phone. Plug your phone in, and select it in the Devices list. Hold down Option and click Restore. You are prompted to select a firmware file. Select the file you downloaded.

This should load 3.1.3 onto the phone, after which it's restored, and activated, you'll be prompted to select a backup of your settings to restore to the phone.

The process of restoring your settings, apps, and media can take several hours.
Leong Ka Tai  2010-07-04 07:31
I should like to share my experience upgrading my iPod Touch.

I tried to do it Wednesday week. After clicking on the update button, the Touch went to back up mode. That was 11:50PM. The next morning, it was still backing up - 8 hours after I started update. The progress bar was at less then one fifth. I stopped it and proceeded with my day.

Last Saturday week, I thought "why not" and started upgrading again. That was also about midnight. Sunday morning it was still backing up, progress bar less than one fifth. I left it to do its thing. Sunday evening at 11PM it was still the same. I went to bed. Fortunately the next morning backing up was finished. I had to feed in my passcode to restore. That was a nail biting moment. I sure did not want to wait another day to get my Touch restored, but there was no way around it. Fortunately, restore was done in less than an hour and I was not too late for work.

About 36 hours to back up an 8G Touch, with about 2G free. World record?
Tom Gewecke  2010-06-29 03:02
Anyone interested in the "foreign language" dimension of iOS 4 might want to check out my blog article:
Adam Engst  An apple icon for a TidBITS Staffer 2010-06-29 07:02
Andy Ihnatko's overview of iOS 4 is now up at the Chicago Sun-Times, and it's wonderful, bringing with it even a tip I didn't know (swipe the app switch to the left to reveal more controls).,ihnatko-apple-ios4-iphone-apple-062410.article
Phill Kelley  2010-07-01 16:56
Updating a 2nd generation iPodTouch to iOS 4 has produced bizarre WiFi behaviour. With the upgraded Touch, a 3GS iPhone and an iPad side by side and within 6 feet of an AirPort Extreme, the 3GS and iPad are rock solid whereas the Touch's connectivity comes and goes like the north wind. Before the update, the Touch was rock solid too. All "i" devices worked anywhere in the house, always on 3 bars within moments of being turned on, never losing connectivity. There is a heap of user traffic on this issue but, as far as I can tell, total silence from Apple. I have followed all the "advice" about rebooting devices, restoring the Touch as a "new" device and starting over but the poor Wifi behaviour is consistent. I'm really surprised we are not seeing wider coverage of this issue (the iPhone 4 antenna seems to be centre stage). I'm at the point where I might try Glenn's approach to downgrading the OS to see whether the problem follows the OS or if iOS 4 has permanently damaged my iPod Touch.
Jonathan Akers  2010-07-06 05:38
I waited at least one day before installing iOS4 on my iphone 3g. It took 10 hours before it was all done. Then it ran incredibly slow. I took a risk and did a restore.
That took another 8 hours. However after the restore I gained significant speed back, and free memory.
I had to 'restore' iOS 4 3 times onto my iPod Touch before it took and performed well. I've heard from a lot of people who have had similar experiences with needing three complete cycles on the 2nd Gen iPod Touch and the iPhone 3G. Works fine now, though a couple of apps are noticeably slower, overall it's actually a bit faster feeling.

I miss not being able to switch apps or get a rotation lock/music control screen on the iPod though.