iPhone 2.2 Update Brings Better Maps
Early this morning, Apple released its second major software update for the iPhone since this summer's debut of the iPhone 3G. The new 2.2 software -- a nearly 250-megabyte download -- makes its major contributions to the iPhone's Maps program.
That application now features Google's Street View interactive panoramas (which only came online for the Washington area two weeks ago). To bring one up, search for an address, then tap the orange circle that appears in that address's label -- and the phone will smoothly flip into a full-screen perspective of the scenery at that address.
The 2.2 update also adds the option of walking and public-transit directions, both badly needed features in a device people often use on foot. The transit routing, however, doesn't integrate Metro's trains or buses -- it suggested I travel from downtown to Georgetown on a Maryland MTA bus. (This isn't Google's fault; WMATA needs to get with the program and provide Google with the necessary route data, as dozens of other transit agencies have done.)
Outside of mapping, the two other most significant features are a simpler search interface in the iPhone's Safari browser and the ability to download podcasts over the air. (That second option could have arrived months ago if Apple hadn't banned a third-party podcast-downloading program from the iPhone's App Store.)
If, however, you were hoping that this upgrade would bring copy and paste functions or support for multimedia messaging, you'll have to keep waiting.
Apple also advertises that the 2.2 software brings "improved stability and performance" in Safari (which would address one of my biggest ongoing gripes about the iPhone review unit) and a "decrease in call setup failures and dropped calls" (which might stop my colleague Michael Rosenwald from complaining to me about how his iPhone cuts him off). You can help me judge how well this update delivers on those and other promised improvements: If you've installed iPhone 2.2, how is it working out for you?
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