How do you make the point that the iPhone has changed the world? The easy answer is “use statistics”—70 million sold, 250,000 downloadable programs on the iPhone App Store, 5 billion downloads… Trouble is, those statistics get stale almost before you’ve finished typing them.
Maybe it’s better to talk about the aftermath. How since the iPhone came along, cell carriers (AT&T, Verizon, and so on) have opened up the calcified, conservative way they used to consider new cellphone designs. How every phone and its brother now have a touchscreen. How BlackBerry, Palm Pre, Google (Android) phones, and even Windows Mobile phones all have their own app stores. How, in essence, everybody wants to be the iPhone.
The thing is, they’ll never quite catch up, because Apple is always moving, too. In June 2010, for example, it introduced the fourth iPhone model, the iPhone 4. It’s slimmer, narrower, faster, cooler-looking. It also has a few new features, including a screen with better contrast and four times the sharpness, a better camera (with a flash), a second camera on the front for making free video calls, a longer-life battery, and so on.
More importantly, there’s a new, free version of the iPhone’s software, called iOS 4. (Why not “iPhone OS” anymore? Because the same operating system runs on the iPad and the iPod Touch. It’s not just for iPhones anymore.)
iOS 4 adds all kinds of new features people have been pining for: multitasking (running more than one app at a time), folders for organizing all your apps, a 5X zoom in the camera, iBooks (an electronic book reader), a spelling checker, a desktop picture for your Home screens, and so on.
Why is it so important? Because you can run iOS 4 on older iPhone models (the 3G and the 3GS) without having to buy the iPhone 4. (Not all features work on the older models, though.) This book covers both the iPhone 4 and the iOS 4 software, even if you’ve installed it on an older phone.
So what’s the iPhone?
Well, it’s a cellphone, obviously. But it’s also a full-blown iPod, complete with a big, dazzling screen for watching TV shows and movies. And the iPhone is also the best pocket Internet viewer you’ve ever seen. It shows fully formatted email (with attachments, thank you) and displays entire Web pages with fonts and design intact. It’s tricked out with a tilt sensor, a proximity sensor, a light sensor, WiFi, Bluetooth, GPS, a gyroscope (in the iPhone 4), and that amazing multitouch screen.
Furthermore, it’s a calendar, an address book, a calculator, an alarm clock, a stopwatch, a stock tracker, a traffic reporter, an RSS reader, and a weather forecaster. It even stands in for a flashlight and, with the screen off, a pocket mirror.
But don’t forget the App Store. Thanks to the hundreds of thousands of add-on programs that await there, the iPhone is also a fast, wicked-fun pocket computer. All those free or cheap programs can turn it into a medical reference, a musical keyboard, a time tracker, a remote control, a voice recorder, a tip calculator, an ebook reader, and so on. And whoa, those games! Hundreds of them, with smooth 3-D graphics and tilt control.
All of this sends the iPhone’s utility and power through the roof. Calling it a phone is practically an insult.
(Apple probably should have called it an “iPod,” but that name was taken.)
By way of a printed guide to the iPhone, Apple provides only a fold-out leaflet. It’s got a clever name—Finger Tips—but to learn your way around, you’re expected to use an electronic PDF document. This PDF covers the basics well, but it’s largely free of details, hacks, workarounds, tutorials, humor, and any acknowledgment of the iPhone’s flaws. You can’t mark your place, underline, or read it in the bathroom.
The purpose of this book, then, is to serve as the manual that should have accompanied the iPhone. (If you have an original iPhone, you really need one of this book’s earlier editions. If you have an iPhone 3G or 3GS, this book assumes that you’ve installed the free iOS 4 software, described in Appendix A.)
Writing computer books can be an annoying job. You commit something to print, and then—bam—the software gets updated or revised, and suddenly your book is out of date.
That will certainly happen to this book. The iPhone is a platform. It’s a computer, so Apple routinely updates and improves it by sending it new software bits. To picture where the iPhone will be five years from now, just look at how much better, sleeker, and more powerful today’s iPod is than the original 2001 black-and-white brick.
Therefore, you should think of this book the way you think of the first iPhone: as a darned good start. To keep in touch with updates we make to it as developments unfold, drop in to the book’s Errata/Changes page. (Go to www.missingmanuals.com, click this book’s name, and then click View/Submit Errata.)
Writing a book about the iPhone is a study in exasperation, because the darned thing is a moving target. Apple updates the iPhone’s software fairly often, piping in new features, bug fixes, speed-ups, and so on.
This book covers the iPhone’s 4.0.1 software. But eventually, there will be 4.0.2 software, 4.0.3, probably a 4.1, and so on. To keep current on the changes, check out the free “Missing CD” on this book’s page at www.missingmanuals.com.
iPhone: The Missing Manual is divided into five parts, each containing several chapters:
Part 1, covers everything related to phone calls: dialing, answering, voice control, voicemail, conference calling, text messaging, MMS, and the Contacts (address book) program. It’s also where you can read about FaceTime, the iPhone 4’s video-calling feature.
Part 2, is dedicated to the iPhone’s built-in software programs, with a special emphasis on its multimedia abilities: playing music, podcasts, movies, TV shows, and photos; capturing still photos and videos; navigating with GPS; and so on. These chapters also cover app management: installing, organizing, and quitting apps—and, of course, the iPhone’s special version of multitasking.
Part 3, is a detailed exploration of the iPhone’s third talent: its ability to get you onto the Internet, either over a WiFi hot spot connection or via AT&T’s cellular network. It’s all here: email, Web browsing, and tethering (that is, letting your phone serve as a glorified Internet antenna for your laptop).
Part 4, describes the world beyond the iPhone itself—like the copy of iTunes on your Mac or PC that’s responsible for filling up the iPhone with music, videos, and photos, and syncing the calendar, address book, and mail settings. These chapters also cover the iPhone’s control panel, the Settings program; and how the iPhone syncs wirelessly with corporate networks using Microsoft Exchange ActiveSync—or with your own computers using Apple’s MobileMe service.
A couple of weeks after the iPhone 4 debuted in the summer of 2010, videos began appearing online, showing a peculiar quirk: If you hold the iPhone 4 so that the lower-left corner is pressed into your palm, you can see your signal-strength bars drop. You can actually see the bars disappearing. Sometimes, you drop the call as a result.
A cellphone that loses its signal when you pick it up? Well, that could be considered a drawback.
It doesn’t happen to everyone. It doesn’t happen everywhere. It’s more likely if you’re in a weak signal-strength area, and if you have sweaty palms. The problem seems to occur only when you’re covering up the black gap in the stainless-steel band at the phone’s lower-left edge.
Even more intriguing: Putting the phone in a case eliminates the problem. Even a “bumper”—like the $30 one that Apple sells—solves the problem. It’s a thin, rubbery silicon band, available in a range of colors, that covers the metal edge entirely.
After an intense week of media hysteria, including a stinging “not recommended” review from Consumer Reports, Apple CEO Steve Jobs gave a short press conference. He showed several videos of other companies’ smartphones that have exactly the same problem, insisting that signal weakening in certain grips is not just an iPhone issue.
He said the issue had been “blown out of proportion” but offered two short-term solutions: a free case or Apple bumper, or a full refund within 30 days of buying the phone.
These offers were good only through September 30, 2010; by then, Apple said it would have had time to study the problem and, presumably, to come up with a long-term solution (which might be extending the free-case offer).
This book went to press before that fateful day arrived. On this book’s “Missing CD” page at www.missingmanuals.com, you’ll find a free PDF supplement that reveals the exciting conclusion to the wild story of the iPhone 4 Death Grip.
In the meantime, if you experience the problem on your iPhone 4, you can avoid covering the black gap; you can put a piece of tape over it; you can use a case; or you can return the phone.
Part 5, contains three reference chapters. Appendix A walks you through the setup process; Appendix B is a tour of accessories like chargers, car adapters, and carrying cases; and Appendix C is a master compendium of troubleshooting, maintenance, and battery information.
Throughout this book, and throughout the Missing Manual series, you’ll find sentences like this one: Tap Settings→Fetch New Data→Off. That’s shorthand for a much longer instruction that directs you to open three nested screens in sequence, like this: “Tap the Settings button. On the next screen, tap Fetch New Data. On the screen after that, tap Off.” (In this book, tappable things on the screen are printed in orange to make them stand out.)
Similarly, this kind of arrow shorthand helps to simplify the business of choosing commands in menus on your Mac or PC, like File→Print.
To get the most out of this book, visit www.missingmanuals.com. Click the Missing CD-ROMs link, and then click this book’s title to reveal a neat, organized list of the shareware and freeware mentioned in this book.
The Web site also offers corrections and updates to the book; to see them, click the book’s title, and then click View/Submit Errata. In fact, please submit corrections yourself! Each time we print more copies of this book, we’ll make any confirmed corrections you’ve suggested. We’ll also note such changes on the Web site, so you can mark important corrections into your own copy of the book, if you like. And we’ll keep the book current as Apple releases more iPhone updates.