Cupertino (CA) – TG Daily previously reported about new end-user features spotted in the iPhone 2.2 firmware beta 1 like the new Street View in Maps application, in addition to the modified address/search bars in Safari, and the option to turn the auto-correction feature off. The second beta, seeded to the developers last Friday, brings a bunch of additional map enhancements, including location sharing and a new transit mode with real-time car, bus and walking directions.
It is no secret that the iPhone 2.1 firmware accidentally opened up many stability issues that resulted in unexpected crashes in third-party applications, decreased overall reliability and brought security problems that exposed users to spam and phishing as well as accelerometer glitches, jerky animations and virtual keyboard delays. According to reports from users who had a chance to play with the 2.2 firmware, most these issues appear to be fixed. But there are new features that could enhance the overall iPhone user experience. The company seems to be focused on the Maps application these days, which not only received a Street View feature, but also a new Transit mode and location sharing features as revealed by iPhoneYap, a new iPhone community site.
iPhone gets G1 Android’s Google Street View magic
Android’s Google Street View magic is probably its biggest show-stopper. The feature combines input from an accelerometer to move the street view in real-time as you move the handset around. The iPhone firmware 2.2 Beta 2 implements this feature as well. There is no dedicated button to access the feature. Instead, you first set a location by dropping a pin on the map or choosing a location from past searches or bookmarks. If there is Street View data on Google’s server for a chosen location, an orange symbol will appear next to location tooltip on the map. Tap it and the screen animates sideways to transform into a Street View of the set location.
It shows street-level photographs in the same fashion as Street View on Google Maps. You can rotate the view in 360 degrees with your finger, zoom in and out or click on arrows to advance in any direction. There are “Report” and “Done” buttons on the top of the interface, in addition to a handy navigation circle that sits in the lower right corner of the screen and shows your position on the mini-map in real-time.
Unlike G1 Android, the iPhone’s mapping application also has Transit mode that pulls up-to-date info off the Google Transit service, like arrivals and departures, schedule times, etc. The new Directions mode features car, bus and walking icons, in addition to “Edit” and “Start” buttons to enter your start and end location. When you set a destination, the iPhone calculates the route with the public transportation types of your choice and offers step-by-step instructions broken down into several phases. Public transit options include bus and subway
Maps also features a new location sharing option to send your location to other iPhone users. You could also have the iPhone’s GPS module locate you, then drop a pin and send your current location to a nearby friend to use as the Transit mode’s destination for step-by-step instructions how to get to you. The Share Location button is found on the bottom of the screen that is revealed when you click the right arrow next to a drop pin on the map.
The feature automatically brings up a new email message with the location info in the body of a message. Assuming that the recipient has an iPhone as well, he can tap on the hyperlink in the message body, which will automatically launch Maps application and display your location.