Mac Format - - NEXT MONTH -

It’s not of­ten we take a look at soft­ware on this page, partly be­cause both OS X and iOS are sub­ject to in­cre­men­tal up­dates rather than ‘mod­els’ of the hard­ware Ap­ple has pro­duced over the years. I think its about time we stopped think­ing about it in those terms – after all, the fi­nal user ex­pe­ri­ence is en­tirely dic­tated by the soft­ware that’s in our hands.

For me, it’s 2009’s re­lease of iOS 3 (or back then ‘iPhone OS 3’) that made me go from loving my iPhone 3G to think­ing it was in­dis­pens­able. It was iOS 2 that brought us the App Store, and is still the big­gest achieve­ment in the his­tory of iPhone and iPad, but it was in iOS 3 that Ap­ple’s mo­bile op­er­at­ing sys­tem re­ally came to­gether, not for one head­line fea­ture but rather a sim­ple re­fo­cus­ing on the lit­tle things that make a good user ex­pe­ri­ence.

iOS 3 can be thought of in two parts, iOS 3.0 and 3.2 (the ver­sion that launched with the iPad and had an up­graded look for many de­fault apps). Top of the key fea­tures that made iOS 3 a clas­sic was the much sought-after cut and paste abil­ity, which although a sta­ple of desk­top of­fice apps, seemed like a revo­lu­tion on mo­bile. Why? Be­cause Ap­ple had al­ready thought around the fid­dly prob­lem of a small vir­tual key­board and nav­i­gat­ing in­line text. Ap­ple’s com­bi­na­tion of a text-mag­ni­fy­ing glass and se­lec­tion slid­ers that popped up above the text was in­tu­itive, and it’s that pol­ished simplicity that kept iOS streets ahead of the com­pe­ti­tion.

Next up in the list of defin­ing mo­bile fea­tures were Spot­light search, tap to fo­cus in the Cam­era app, Find my iPhone and re­mote lock, and Aut­ofill for forms in Sa­fari. The essence of all th­ese ‘mi­nor’ im­prove­ments? Ease of use. Purely and sim­ply, iOS 3 marked the point at which Ap­ple’s mo­bile op­er­at­ing sys­tem came of age and paved the way for the so­phis­ti­cated OS we love to­day.

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