My experience with iOS 4 on my iPhone 3G

When Apple implemented copy and paste it got a huge amount of coverage, but I didn’t care all that much. I’ve always felt that on such a small device, apps should behave in such a way that copy and paste isn’t needed. I probably use copy and paste about once every three months.

Similarly, there’s a lot of excitement now about multitasking. And similarly, I don’t find myself caring all that much. On such a small device I don’t feel any great need for my apps to multitask, and I’m happy so long as they maintain their state when appropriate and utilise push notifications to keep me informed when the app isn’t running.

Still, it’s just as well I don’t care that much about multitasking, because… Apple haven’t actually enabled it on the iPhone 3G. It only works on the 3GS and the new iPhone 4. Oh well.

What I do care about, however, is being able to see my To Do items and Notes on my iPhone and to have them synced over MobileMe. I’ve been frustrated for years now by the absence of this functionality. A year ago I got angry that I still couldn’t sync my To Do items to the new iPhone OS, and a year later I am still angry about this oversight. I just don’t understand why Apple don’t fix this when it’s so fundamental for keeping one’s life organised.

However, it is supposed to be possible now to sync Notes using one’s email account. This sounded promising, but I’ve tried it out and the syncing isn’t working properly. I managed to sync a note from my iPhone to my Macs but not the other way round. And all of the Notes/To Do architecture remains a total mess on the Mac. Notes in Mail have to be created on your email account, yet To Do items have to be created ‘On My Mac’ otherwise they won’t appear in iCal. The whole thing seems totally broken, and in my opinion Apple should rip out the whole ‘Reminders’ system for Notes and To Do items and start again from scratch, with proper MobileMe sync built in from the ground up.

I’m not overly keen on threaded email, so that’s another new feature that I don’t care about, and I turned it off as soon as I saw it occurring. What I would like to have seen, on the other hand, is some improvements to the notification system. When I pick up my phone I’d like to see, at a glance, all the texts, emails, missed calls and other events which have occurred since I last used it, but this still doesn’t happen. It would also be nice if push notifications were sent to mail for all inbox state changes, not just for new mail. I’m a bit tired of my iPhone telling me I have mail when it’s just mail I’ve already read on my Mac.

On the plus side, I do like finally being able to group my apps, so I can now fit everything on two screens instead of having to swipe back and forth between six screens as I did before. Oh, and I like the little Address Book contact picture that now appears on emails. I can’t see much else new that I care about, though.

All in all, this is a rather disappointing update, particularly on my iPhone 3G. I will continue to be frustrated until Apple allow me to get to my To Do items on my iPhone via MobileMe. Having said that, I’m not sure how much longer I’ll continue to use MobileMe; when there are so many free alternatives around, it’s difficult to justify the cost. The Google sync options seem to be working better and better, and now that Apple have started utilising user data for advertising, is there really much difference between the two? Whilst we’re on the subject, I’d advise any iPhone users reading this to visit oo.apple.com on your iPhone to make sure you’ve opted out of the data collection for advertising purposes – you still have the option of not having your private data used for advertising, although Apple aren’t exactly making it obvious.

Edit: For some reason the iOS 4 update has stopped my iPhone from being able to play most of the songs in its music library. Very annoying.

Edit: I’ve also just discovered that something has gone wrong with the photo syncing to my iPhone from Aperture (a process which was already causing me huge headaches even before the iOS upgrade), and now all the photos on my iPhone are badly blurred. Blimey, Apple, whatever happened to ‘it just works’? I suggest you start investing some of those spare billions in better QA testing before people like me start looking at cheaper alternatives to your products.

Edit: Third-party apps are now much more prone to crashing. I really, really hope there’s a bugfix release for this soon.

Edit: I finally managed to get Notes syncing from my iPhone to my Macs across MobileMe after a great deal of tiresome fiddling about. Hoorah! I’d prefer a standalone Notes application on my Macs though, as it’s a bit weird having them in Mail. And there’s still all this nonsense in which I have to tell Mail to create new Notes on MobileMe, which means that any To Do items I create also go into MobileMe, which in turn means they don’t appear in iCal because they haven’t been created ‘On My Mac’. And of course the To Do items don’t get synced onto the iPhone no matter what you do! And why isn’t there an option to turn an email into a Note??? For the love of god, Apple, please sort out this dreadful mess. I can’t believe I’m the only one constantly complaining about it.

Edit: Not only is my iPhone 3G now incredibly slow, but the battery life is now a fraction of what it was before I installed iOS 4. I wonder if Apple actually tested this update at all on the iPhone 3G?!