I was extremely disappointed about one thing with the new iOS 4 Software Update and iPhone 4. With the iOS 4 update on my iPhone 3GS and then ultimately going to the iPhone 4, Apple took away one of my favorites features and one that made me think: Apple – It's a PHONE first! That feature was one that appeared in iPhone OS 2 (after my complaining about it not being on the original iPhone OS) and it was a simple double tap of the Home button to get to your Phone Favorites List. I feel that ALL phones should have a ONE TOUCH SPEED DIAL feature and since the iPhone doesn't have physical keys to assign contacts to, the next best thing was the ability to double tap the Home button to get to that short list of Favorites so that you can quickly dial someone that you call all the time. Instead Apple chose to reassign the double tap to the NEW multi-tasking feature. Again, I thought since multi-tasking is the NEW thing, why not give that feature a different command such as triple tap or double tap and hold, etc.? I couldn't believe that such a fundamental PHONE feature had taken a backseat to running multiple apps at the same time. After all the iPhone is a PHONE first! Note: double tap still works to get to Favorites (or whatever you have it set to) on the iPhone 3G since the iPhone 3G doesn't support multitasking.
What about Voice Control?
During a dinner conversation my buddy and fellow columnist Jack Beckman, we started talking about Voice Control. Voice Control is not a new feature. It was there on my iPhone 3GS. However, I almost NEVER used it because quite frankly it just didn't work with my voice. As I've said in the past voice recognition software ether works really well for me or not at all. On the iPhone 3GS Voice Control was in the "not at all" category. I would say "Call Jack Beckman" and the iPhone would say "Calling Phyllis Evans". If I have to say it 3, 4 or 5 times to get it to work, then I'm better off just doing it manually and that was just how bad Voice Control was for me. However, since one of my favorite features had been thrown to the side like yesterday's news I figured what did I have to lose by giving Voice Control another shot? So I tried it and OMG it worked! First time, no hesitation. I tried it again with a different name and it worked again. I spent the entire next day forcing myself to only use Voice Control to make any calls that I needed to make and son of a gun, it worked with EVERY NAME I threw at it. Yesterday, I tried more difficult names like Kwesi Aquil and Rentata Stojcevski and it got those right too. As a matter of fact it has yet to not get it right on the first try for me! WOW!
Voice Control even has a few advantages over the Favorites list. First off you can hold down the Home button to get to Voice Control even if the iPhone is locked. You can use Voice Control with a bluetooth headset without even touching the iPhone. You can use Voice Control to call contacts that aren't in your Favorites. In other words you have access to your entire contact list and can dial numbers digit by digit. Lastly since it's handsfree, it's safer while driving. You don't have to look at the screen to use it and that's a win for everyone!
Voice Control Tip: If your contact has multiple numbers, you can actually say "call Jack Beckman iPhone" and it will know to dial the iPhone number (provided you specified "iPhone" in your contacts. Otherwise say "mobile", "home", "work" etc.)
The Bottom Line
While I do still think that the Favorites list is an important "phone" feature that should be EASY to access with one tap (or hold, or multiple tap combination, you get the idea), I applaud the improvements in Voice Control. I'm not sure if it's improved because of iOS 4 tweaks or because of the iPhone 4's dual microphones or because of the iPhone 4's faster processor or all of the above, but I'll take it!