iPhone OS 3: Three Is the Magic Number

Now well established, Apple rolled out its third incarnation of its mobile operating system in 2009.

2009 was a big year for Apple. The iPhone was now commonplace, iPhone OS 2.0 had made significant improvements the year before, and iPhone OS 3.0 was hyped to be just as big.

The launch of iPhone OS 3.0 in June 2009 brought with it a new iPhone. The iPhone 3GS looked identical to the 3G (a telling difference – the writing on the back of the 3GS is shiny, while it is dull on the 3G).

However, under that same casing was a much different beast. While the original iPhone and iPhone 3G featured the same processing power, the iPhone 3GS went to 620 MHz processor and 256 MB RAM, that is a 50% increase in processing power and double the RAM. Where the first iPhone benchmarked at 139 using Geekbench 2, the iPhone 3GS pretty much doubled that with a score of 275.

iPhone OS 3 was now available for three iPhone and three iPod touch models. The iPod touch third generation received it free – however, first and second generation owners again had to pay for iPhone OS 3, although it was only $4.95.

But what about OS 3.0 – what did it bring other than a new phone?

  • Released: June 19th 2009
  • Final Version: 3.1.3
  • Devices: iPhone, 3G, and 3GS; iPad (from 3.2 onwards); iPod touch 1st, 2nd, and 3rd generation
  • Requirements: iTunes 8.2 or later and Mac OX 10.4 Tiger or Windows XP SP2

iPhone OS 3.0 was the first usable version as far as I am concerned. Whilst previous versions were okay, it took a while for bugs to be ironed out and features to be added.

Copy and paste might seem like such a basic feature of any system, but it took two years before iPhone users finally had it in iPhone OS 3.0.

Spotlight offered the ability to search your phone, tethering allowed sharing your phone’s internet connection with your laptop, and Push Notifications allowed for instant popups

Mail introduced landscape mode for easier typing, and MMS was finally available – but not for the original iPhone. There were big under-the-hood improvements to the Calendar too, offering better syncing with other services.

A very big new feature was Find my iPhone. This was a handy way of tracking your phone if lost or stolen and even remote wiping – however, it required a paid for MobileMe subscription. (MobileMe was the predecessor to iCloud.)

Version 3.1 arrived two months after 3.0, and as with most point updates contained a few new features, such as improved video editing on the iPhone 3GS, faster booting times, Voice Control over Bluetooth, improvements to the App Store, expanding the Genius technology, extending copy and paste to Phone app, and a host of minor fixes/patches.

The iPhone 3GS was obviously at the centre of Apple’s attention in OS 3. As well as video editing improvements, accessibility features could be accessed by triple clicking the home button – but exclusively for the 3GS.

iPhone OS 3 now spanned three iPhone models and started a method Apple would use going forward. The latest iPhone would usually ship with a new version of iPhone OS and be privvy to all the latest features. The previous year’s iPhone would receive the majority of features, and earlier versions would receive even less features – down to hardware not able to handle everything well enough or possibly lacking certain new chips or signals.

iPhone OS 3.1.2 might have been a small update, but it fixed a lot of issues with sleeping and video streaming. Version 3.1.3 might have been yet another small update, but it is significant in that it was the last update available for the original iPhone and iPod touch. It brought with it improved battery reporting for the iPhone 3GS and a number of minor bug fixes.

The First OS for the iPad: iOS 3.2

original iPadIn April 2010, Apple launched the iPad, shipping with iPhone OS 3.2. No more OS 3 updates were available for any iPhones. With the launch of the iPad, Apple renamed the operating system to iOS – to encompass all devices it supported.

iOS 3.2 was iPad only. It was really just a redesigned 3.1.3 to support the larger screen. The original iPad had no camera, so these sections were obviously removed – although coding hinted it was left in, pointing people to assume an iPad with a camera would be next (which, of course, it was).

3.2.1 brought WiFi fixes associated with the iPad, and 3.2.2 patched a jailbreak exploit.

That was the end of iOS 3. An operating system that, two years previously only had to run on two devices, was now capable of running on seven models – with the older ones losing some features and iPads getting their own version numbers.

The original iPhone has become an iconic device and a lot of people held on to them for a long time. Years after Apple had dropped the original iPhone – the whited00r team were creating custom firmware to extend the life of both the original iPhone and iPhone 3G. It offered newer features and speed optimisation whilst still being OS 3.1.3 based.

iPhone OS 3/iOS 3 was superb, and it paved the way for one of the best versions to be released, iOS 4.


Check out the next release, iOS 4: It’s All About the Face or read the previous, iPhone OS 2: First Major Update Adds App Store.


Follow Simon Royal on Twitter or send him an Email.
Like what you have read? Send Simon a donation via Tip Jar.

keywords: #iphoneos3 #iphone3g #iphone3gs #iphoneos #ios3 #ipodtouch #ipad #techspectrum #simonroyal

short link: https://goo.gl/pd8vU5

searchwords: iphoneos3

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.