iPhone 3.0: Highlights of the new operating system

IPhone 3G

Apple today previewed iPhone 3.0, the new operating system for its smart phone and Touch multimedia player. As expected, many of the enhancements of the new OS are "catch-up" fixes to what's already been offered on smart phones from other makers, including the upcoming Palm Pre. There were, however, a few welcome surprises—though those did not include rumored announcements of new iPhones or other hardware.

Here are highlights of the new OS—available free sometime this summer to iPhone owners, and as a $10 upgrade to Touch owners:

Cut and paste. For the first time iPhone users will be able to cut and paste text within and between documents, even if the documents are in differing applications. You double-tap the display to summon the cut, copy and paste tools; select text by dragging your finger over it; then double-tap again when you're ready to paste your selection. If you make a mistake, you just shake the phone.

Landscape keyboard. Since iPhone's debut, tilting the iPhone on its side has produced a wider keyboard when Web searching. Now that capability, a real plus for rotund fingers, is also being added to e-mail or messaging applications.

Enhanced multimedia messaging. For the first time, iPhone users will be able to send messages to accompany photos, contacts, audio files and locations. You'll also be able to delete and forward multimedia messages individually or en masse, as you can now in e-mail.

Improved Search. You’ll now be able to perform searches across multiple applications, including iTunes, Contacts, Mail, and Calendar. The capability will not extend to the Web, however, as the Palm Pre promises.

An improved home screen. A new homescreen, called Spotlight, a leftward swipe from the standard home screen, allows you to search across all of your applications; you then launch the app with a tap.

Turn-by-turn directions. No applications are mentioned, but the new operating system will support GPS navigation applications that offer turn-by-turn directions—a capability that even some basic phones have been offering for years.

Enhanced Bluetooth support. iPhone will now support stereo Bluetooth headsets and peer-to-peer connectivity, which means you'll be able to beam or receive data from other similarly equipped devices. Again, Palms have had this capability for years.

Tethering. For the first time, you'll be able to use your iPhone as a modem for your laptop, providing AT&T allows that to happen.

—Mike Gikas