iOS4: What you need to know

Tomorrow’s the big day (if you own a second or third generation device), and iOS4 will be released, bringing Folders, multitasking (to third generation devices), and more customization. What do you need to know to update? Read it all here!

What you get

Depending on your device, you will get different features. So, by device, here is what features will be available to you:

Note that these are generally considered the ‘most important’; the full list is much longer.
  • iPod touch 1G: Unsupported
  • iPhone 2G: Unsupported
  • iPod touch 2G: Game Center, Unified Inbox, Folders, iBooks, iAds
  • iPhone 3G: Game Center, Unified Inbox, Folders, iBooks, iAds
  • iPod touch 3G (32 & 64GB Only): Multitasking, Folders, Game Center, Unified Inbox, iBooks, iAds, Wallpapers for Homescreen
  • iPhone 3GS: Multitasking, Folders, Game Center, Unified Inbox, iBooks iAds, Wallpapers for Homescreen
  • iPhone 4: Everything
  • iPad: Update expected later this year

As Apple’s latest and greatest, iPhone 4 will receive every goody iOS4 has to offer, such as video calling. The iPhone 3GS and the iPod touch 3G (32GB and 64GB only) will also receive mostly everything, like multitasking, folders, and a homescreen wallpaper. Where it starts to split is with iPhone 3G, and the iPod touch 2G. Unfortunately, these devices will not get multitasking or homescreens wallpapers. Apple states that they couldn’t get the experience to be refined enough on these devices. The iPhone 2G and the iPod touch 1G (both first generation devices) will not receive the update at all.


Multitasking allows you to run multiple apps at once. For example, you will be able to listen to Pandora Radio while you check your email, browse the web, or play a game. To see what apps are running, double tap the home button and scroll through them. To quit an open app, press and hold an icon. It will start wiggling, and you will be able to close it from there.

Folders allow you to organize apps the way you want, while storing more apps in the same space. Using Folders, it is now possible to have 2016 apps on one device. Yeah, big change from the 180 apps we were allowed in the past. To use Folders, simply drag an app’s icon over another. It will create a Folder, and you will be able to edit the name of the Folder from there.

In iOS4, the iPhone and iPod touch gain the iPad’s spell checking capabilities. Spell something wrong in Safari? iOS has you covered; in my completely un-scientific tests, iOS was very good for finding the correct word. For words that the OS thinks you have misspelled, it will be underlined in red. Tapping the word will show a familiar pop-up, though this time it will contain recommended replacements.

Springboard also gets an update here: background wallpapers. Something that has been available to jailbreakers for a while is now coming officially. It’s very simple: You go to Settings>Wallpaper and tap the mockup of your current lockscreen and homescreen, and then you have the option to select a wallpaper from Apple, or from your saved photos.


Tap to focus for taking photos has been available since 3.0, but Apple is bringing it to videography now. You can now tap to focus for videos. However, photography remains a leg-up, letting users have a 5x digital zoom.


iAds. What could possibly be one of the more interesting features of iOS4 is also one of the more disliked. Of course it is, you here ‘ad’ and automatically you don’t like it. But iAd aims to be different. They will be HTML5 apps designed to sell you something, that reside within other free (or low cost) apps. There will always be a way out (by tapping a simple ‘x’ icon), so you can leave. They will be activated by tapping a banner, that will be marked with ‘iAd’ so that you know you can exit it.

That wraps up the ‘big’ changes, though that is not all of them. Many of the changes are for developers (APIs) and will allow them to further improve their apps. So even for those who don’t get all these nice features, there will be changes in third-party apps.

Before you update…

Before you update, you will need iTunes 9.2.,  which you can get here or by checking for updates. Either way, you’ll want the new iTunes if you want to get iOS4 or iPhone 4, as neither will function without it. Here are the changes:

  • Sync with iPhone 4 to enjoy your favorite music, movies, TV shows, books and more on-the-go
  • Sync and read books with iPhone or iPod touch with iOS 4 and iBooks 1.1
  • Organize and sync PDF documents as books. Read PDFs with iBooks 1.1 on iPad and any iPhone or iPod touch with iOS 4
  • Organize your apps on your iOS 4 home screens into folders using iTunes
  • Faster back-ups while syncing an iPhone or iPod touch with iOS 4
  • Album artwork improvements make artwork appear more quickly when exploring your library

After installing iTunes 9.2, be sure to backup your iPhone or iPod touch (right-click on the devices name in iTunes, and select ‘Backup’) so that you have a current and up-to-date image to backup to. Also be sure to select ‘Transfer Purchases,’ to get anything on the iPod or iPhone over to the computer, just in case something happens during the update procedure.

When to start checking for the update

As always, there is no set time. Apple will release it whenever that switch gets thrown over in Cupertino. More than likely, other parts of the world (New Zealand) will get it first. There may be server issues (slow download speeds, problems getting the firmware, etc.) That will be due to the downright massive amount of people trying to get the firmware, at relatively the same time. Rest assured, though, that you will be able to get the firmware in the next week. Unless the iPhone 4 pre-orders are a sign of things to come… I kid, I kid.

For kicks, though, Apple released iPhone OS 3.0 at 10:30 a.m. PT on June 17, 2009. Does that mean that’s what time iOS4 will be released? Maybe, maybe not.

Regardless, keep it here for updates.

Post a response / What do you think?