Early iPhone Upgrade Tries To Steal Storm's Thunder


The move caught Apple fans by surprise, as the update appeared set for Friday. Users can access features using iTunes 8 and connecting the iPhone to a computer for download.

Among the improvements is a Safari upgrade that now has a new search-friendly user interface, better performance and more stability. In addition, iPhone users can now access free podcasts on the iTunes Store via Wi-Fi or a cell network. Apple also said that there is a decrease in call setup failures and dropped calls. Users can also access the new Home Screen Shortcut that takes them back to the first Home screen by pressing the Home button.

The Maps feature has also been revamped, with Google Street View, which lets users take a virtual walking tour by navigating through street level-pictures of areas that have been located through Maps. A display address of dropped pins has also been added. And for those hoofing it or taking a train or bus, the new Public Transit and Walking Directions feature gives walking directions, public transit schedules, fares and estimated travel times.

The feature can also be sent to others by tapping the Share Location button which sends e-mails that includes Google Maps URLs. Additionally, some isolated issues with scheduled e-mail fetching have been resolved and there is also improved formatting of wide HTML e-mail.

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The last software upgrade was back in September, which was announced by CEO Steve Jobs at the "Let's Rock" confab.

Those improvements included: significantly better battery life for most users; reduced time to backup to iTunes; better e-mail reliability, especially in accessing e-mail from POP and Exchange accounts; faster installation of third party applications; and a fix for bugs that caused hangs and crashes with a number of third party applications.