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Everything You Need to Know about iPhone 1.1.3

With Apple’s just-released upgrade, the iPhone (and iPod touch) software moves from version 1.1.2 to 1.1.3. Given the small numerical increment, you’d be justified in thinking this was only a minor maintenance update. If so, you’d be wrong. In fact, version 1.1.3 introduces a collection of new features that outpace all the changes in the previous updates combined. Here’s the lowdown on what’s up with 1.1.3.

I’ll be adding this information to “Take Control of Your iPhone” in a future update; if you find the details in this article useful, you’ll find nearly 200 pages of equally helpful setup, usage, and troubleshooting information in the full ebook.

Enhanced Maps — The biggest beneficiary of the 1.1.3 update is Maps. Maps was already such a great tool for finding locations and getting directions that many people (myself included) considered it to be the iPhone’s killer app. With 1.1.3, Maps gets even better. For the most part, you access the new features in Maps via the redesigned toolbar along the bottom of the screen.

First up, Maps can now find your current location. To do this, tap the leftmost button on the toolbar. After a brief wait, a map appears with a circle on it. The circle surrounds what Maps believes is your “current location.” The size of the circle is an indication of its assumed accuracy; a smaller circle means a more accurate result.

No, your iPhone has not been magically endowed with GPS hardware. Rather, the iPhone is triangulating your location from cellular network towers and (assuming you have Wi-Fi turned on) from Wi-Fi networks, public and private (for an explanation of how this works, see “iPhone and iPod touch Become Self-Aware,” 2008-01-15). This, of course, means that if you are currently in an area with poor cell coverage and/or no Wi-Fi networks of any kind, the feature won’t work well – if at all. (The company handling Wi-Fi triangulation, Skyhook Wireless, currently covers 70 percent of the population of the United States, Canada, and Australia, with more limited European coverage. You can see if they
cover your area by punching in an address on their site.)

But if you are where it does work, “current location” is a spectacular addition to the Maps software. For example, after finding your current location, if you next tap the Directions button, your current location is automatically selected as the Start location. This enables you to get directions from your current location to some other destination, even if you are lost and don’t know where you are at the moment!

A note for iPod touch users: Maps can perform similar magic on your iPod touch, but it triangulates only from Wi-Fi data, not cell towers, and requires an Internet connection to do so.

Dropped Pins — No, “dropped pins” doesn’t mean you have to get down on the floor and start searching for small pointy objects. In Maps, pins are used to show a selected location (for example, if you searched for a restaurant, a pin would indicate its location). You can now drop a pin on the currently displayed map and drag it around to wherever you want it. The pin location can be used as the start or end point for directions. This allows you, for example, to get directions to or from an approximate location without needing to specify a specific address.

To do all this, first tap the new View (eye) button on the right side of the toolbar. This causes the currently displayed map to curl back somewhat, slickly revealing a set of options beneath: Drop Pin, Show Traffic, and a choice of display type (Map, Satellite, Hybrid, or List).

From here, tap Drop Pin (if there is a dropped pin already in place, the button will instead read Replace Pin). A pin appears on the Map with instructions to “Drag To Move Pin.” After moving the pin to where you want it, tap for Directions and Dropped Pin will be listed as the Start point. Alternatively, tap the Dropped Pin’s More Info (>) icon and you’ll see options to add the pin location as a bookmark or remove the pin entirely.

Customized Home (and Web Clips) — With iPhone (or iPod touch) software 1.1.3, you can customize the locations of the icons on your Home screen. To do so, first press and hold down on any icon. After a second or so, all the icons begin to jiggle slightly. You can now rearrange the icons to be in any sequence that you want. To modify the icons in the row along the bottom, first move one out; you can then drag a new one in. When you are done, push the Home button to stop the jiggling.

But wait, there’s more! Launch Safari and go to any desired Web page. Now tap the new + button in the toolbar at the bottom of the Safari display. This brings up three options: Add Bookmark, Mail Link to this Page, and Add to Home Screen. It’s the last one that you want for now. Tap it, and an icon, referred to as a Web Clip, is added to your Home screen. Tap the Web Clip icon and you are taken directly to that Web page. This provides a quick and convenient way to return to any frequently accessed Web page.

If you create more Web Clips than fit on the initial Home screen, a second screen is automatically added to handle the overflow. You can have a maximum of nine screens.

You can navigate back and forth among screens by swiping right or left. A row of dots near the bottom of the screen indicates the total number of screens; the dot representing the current screen is brighter than the others.

When you have the icons jiggling, you can move an icon to a different screen by dragging it to the right (or left) edge of the current screen. You can also delete any Web Clip by tapping the X icon in the upper left corner of the Web Clip.

To return to the default Home settings at any time, go to Settings > General > Reset and tap “Reset Home Screen Layout.”

Multiple recipients for Text (SMS) messages — From the Text application, you can now simultaneously send a single message to more than one person. To do so, click the + button that appears in the To field and create your list of recipients.

After updating to 1.1.3, you also don’t need to be as concerned about getting “SMS Mailbox is full” messages. The storage limit for SMS messages has been increased from 1,000 to 75,000.

Movies — After updating the iPhone software (as well as updating iTunes to version 7.6 or later), you can watch rented movies on your iPhone. To do so, rent the movie in iTunes and add it to your iPhone’s sync list (via the new Rented Movies section of the iPhone’s Video tab). The movie is transferred to the iPhone during your next sync.

A rented movie can be stored in only one location at a time; this means that, once a movie has been transferred to your iPhone, it is removed from your iTunes Library.

Most downloaded movies support a new chapter feature that enables you to navigate quickly forward or backward through a movie, via a chapters list, in a manner similar to the “scene selection” navigation available with most movie DVDs. To access the chapter list, if available, tap the list icon, found in the playback controls. The latest software also lets you choose among alternate languages and whether or not to display subtitles, assuming the selected movie includes such data.

Gmail IMAP Accounts — In iPhone Software 1.1.2 and earlier, if you used the automatic setup for creating a Gmail account, you would wind up with a POP account. As such, messages sent from your iPhone would not appear in an email client on your Mac or PC, and folders (Gmail tags) other than your Inbox were inaccessible on the iPhone. To compensate for this, Gmail on your iPhone automatically sent a copy of all your sent mail to yourself. You could disable this Cc feature, if you wished, by going to Settings > Mail > {your Gmail account name} > Advanced and turning off “Use Recent Mode.”

In iPhone Software Update 1.1.3, the Recent Mode option is gone. This is because Gmail is now configured as an IMAP account by default, which means that all received and sent messages remain accessible from the IMAP server, making the Recent Mode option unnecessary.

This shift to IMAP also means that Gmail messages older than 30 days remain viewable on your iPhone. Previously, such older messages could be viewed only if you disabled Recent Mode (and possibly not even then).

Further, if you delete a message from your iPhone when using an IMAP Gmail account, it will be moved to the Trash on the Gmail server. With a POP Gmail account, deleting a message on your iPhone had no effect on the mail stored on the server.

If you go to your IMAP Gmail account in the Mail application, you will find a few additional enhancements. In particular, there are now separate folders for All Mail, Spam, and Starred – as well as listings for gDisk content. Also, although I have not personally confirmed this, Google Maps embedded in messages received to your Gmail account should now appear correctly on your iPhone.

There is one glitch in all this. If you created a Gmail account prior to upgrading to 1.1.3, it remains a POP account even after the upgrade. To shift to IMAP, you’ll need to select Settings > Mail > Add Account… > Other and use the IMAP settings to create a new Gmail account. Then delete the older Gmail account.

The Minor New Features — An assortment of other minor improvements and bug fixes were included with iPhone Software 1.1.3 and iTunes 7.6:

  • Use gift codes: You can now redeem iTunes gift codes directly from the iTunes Wi-Fi Music Store on your iPhone.
  • See song lyrics: If you have entered lyrics for a song, the iPhone can display them as the song is playing. Apple, however, has not made the method for doing this particularly obvious. Check out this Macworld article for assistance.
  • Use two-fingered typing: On a standard keyboard, if you hold down the Shift key while typing other keys, the typed keys appear in all caps. Prior to the 1.1.3 update, you could not do this with the iPhone’s virtual keyboard.
  • Mingling data bug fixed: If you ever got a “mingling data” error on your iPhone, don’t worry about seeing it again. Apple squashed this bug in the 1.1.3 update.
  • Manually manage music: Starting in iTunes 7.6, there is a new listing in the Options section of the iPhone’s Summary tab: “Manually manage music and videos.” This feature, which has long been available on iPods, is now an iPhone option as well. With this option enabled, you can add individual songs to your iPhone by directly dragging a song from your iTunes Library to the iPhone listing in Devices. Conversely, you can delete individual songs from your iPhone. Previously, the only way to modify the media content on your iPhone was via the iPhone’s Music, Podcast, and Video tabs.

Tip: Go to the contextual menu for the iPhone (accessed from the Devices listing in iTunes). If you have enabled the “Manually manage…” option, you’ll find a New Playlist item in the menu. If you select this item, you create a new “untitled” playlist directly on the iPhone. You can manually drag songs to and from this playlist.

A Tale of Two Updates — While this article has focused on the iPhone, most of the described changes apply to the iPod touch as well. In addition, there are a couple of iPod touch-specific aspects to the update.

The iPod touch Software Update 1.1.3 is free. Installing this update gives you features such as the ability to customize your home screen and to rent movies. However, it does not give you the five iPhone applications now included with the iPod touch. These applications, previously available only on the iPhone, are: Maps, Mail, Stocks, Weather and Notes. Obtaining these applications requires a separate $20 purchase. You make the purchase via the iTunes Store on your Mac (you should be prompted to do this after connecting your iPod touch to iTunes).

After completing the purchase, you should see the following screen, which includes instructions on how to install the just-purchased software:

When you are all done, check the iPod touch’s Summary tab in iTunes. The Software Version listing should read: “1.1.3 (with Software Upgrade).” If all you see is “1.1.3,” the installation failed. If this happens, first confirm that you successfully purchased the update. To do so, go to your account in the iTunes Store and click the Purchase History button. It should list a purchase for “iPod touch January Software Upgrade.” If not, restart the entire process and attempt to
purchase the upgrade again. I had this problem and it all worked fine on my second try.

If the purchase is listed, and if you have enabled the “Manually manage…” option in iTunes: disable the option, resync your iPod touch and (if desired) turn the option back on again. This will likely modify the media content on your iPod touch (you can deal with that later), but it should get the new applications to appear. If even that fails, you will need to restore your iPod touch. See this Apple article for more assistance.

Speaking of restoring your iPod touch, another Apple article suggests that it is now okay to restore an iPhone backup to your iPod touch. Previously, Apple recommended against doing this. But Apple now states that potential problems with a cross-device restore are “prevented” by updating to iPod touch Software 1.1.3.

Hacking iPhone (and iPod touch) 1.1.3 — Many iPhone and iPod touch users have discovered the joy of hacking (“jailbreaking”) their devices. Doing so opens the door to installing a wide variety of third-party stand-alone applications, from games to utilities to productivity software.

Apple has never supported doing this and has, in fact, actively attempted to thwart such hacking. However, Apple is releasing a software development kit (SDK) in February 2008 that will, for the first time, permit the Apple-supported installation of third-party applications on iPhones and iPod touches. For those who can’t wait, or who worry that Apple’s method will restrict what can be installed, there remains an interest in hacking the iPhone and iPod touch.

Hackers have already figured out how to jailbreak the 1.1.3 update. However, at least as of today, a successful jailbreak: (1) requires downgrading the 1.1.3 firmware; (2) will likely not work on new iPhones that ship with 1.1.3; and (3) involves a fairly complicated procedure that is not guaranteed to work and may even disable some iPhone features along the way. At this point, given all these risks and hassles, the general advice is to wait for Apple’s SDK to come out and reassess whether or not a separate hacking method is even needed.

For those who are currently using a hacked iPhone with an older version of the software, and wish to continue to do so, my advice is to not update to 1.1.3.

Under the Hood — Prior to the 1.1.3 update, iPhone applications ran via the root user (located in the /var/root directory). While this can be considered a security risk, it is a minimal one as long as Apple maintains total control over what applications are available on an iPhone (as it currently does for non-hacked iPhones).

In preparation for the coming SDK, which allows the installation of third-party software, applications on iPhones and iPod touches with 1.1.3 installed are now run as a less-privileged “mobile” user (with preferences stored in the /var/mobile directory).

Some additional minor under-the-hood changes, all similarly designed in preparation for the SDK, have also been implemented in the 1.1.3 upgrade.

As to how third-party applications will actually be installed on forthcoming iPhones and iPod touches, I suspect Apple will use iTunes, similar to the way the iPhone applications are added to an iPod touch. It remains to be seen if Apple will also permit the current method of using the AppTapp Installer utility, which does not give Apple control over what can or cannot be installed.

[Thanks to books like “Sad Macs, Bombs & Other Disasters,” innumerable magazine articles, and the founding of MacFixIt, Ted Landau has become the undisputed guru of Macintosh troubleshooting. He is also a professor emeritus of psychology and in 1984 was the U.S. National Othello Champion. His most recent book is “Take Control of Your iPhone.”]

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