iPhone 2.2 Firmware Released, Google Maps and Podcasts Take Center Stage

Today Apple released the iPhone 2.2 firmware update and it is available to download throught iTunes. Just click on “check for updates” to force iTunes to call home and start downloading the latest update.

While some iPhone pages have not been updated yet, you can download a new iPhone User Guide from Apple.com that outlines how to use these new features. Developers will also find an updated iPhone SDK in the iPhone Dev Center.
Browsing through the menus, it looks like the background push notification service that was promised (~56:35) for September is still missing. But what is there looks nice.
The new Street View in Maps is awesome. I’ve found that feature really useful at times when I want to get an idea of what a building looks like before I head out on the road. The other thing I’m really excited about? The new option to click the Home button to jump to the first Home screen. I have my icons arranged to put the most important items on the first page. I’ll definitely use this option so I can quickly jump back to my main apps instead of swiping, swiping, swiping, etc. to get back to the first page (why doesn’t Apple just let home screens wrap around so swiping to the right of the last page takes you back to the first page?).

Updated features and fixes

  • Enhancements to Maps
    • Google Street View
    • public transit and walking directions
    • display address of dropped pins
    • share location via email
  • Enhancements to Mail
    • resolved issues with scheduled fetching of email
    • improved formatting of wide HTML email
  • Improved stability and performance of Safari
  • Podcasts are now available for download in iTunes application (over Wi-Fi and cellular network)
  • Decrease in call set-up features and call drops
  • Improved sound quality of visual voicemail messages
  • Pressing the Home button from any screen takes you to the first Home screen
  • Preference to turn on/off the auto-correction in Keyboard Settings

Here’s a few screenshots of the new features in action…
The new Map View – when available, you’ll see a little orange person that lets you know there is a street view available.

Street View – When you click on the new icon, you’ll be presented with a landscape layout of the street view. You navigate in the street view by swiping to move the view around and clicking on the arrows to move up and down the street. Clicking on the circular map in the lower-right will return you to map view.

Share Location – you can share the current map location by clicking on “Share Location” on the details page. If you want to share your own location as determined by GPS, you just need to drop a pin on the map first and then click on the blue arrow to get to the details page for that location. Clicking on “Share Location” opens a new email message with a link to Google Maps.

Safari changes – The visible change to Safari is a redesign of the address bar. The magnifying glass and the stop/reload button are gone and integrated into the address field and Google search field. The stop and reload icons are in the address field itself.

Podcasts – you can now browse through podcasts through the iTunes Store application right on your iPhone. You have a choice of What’s Hot, Top Tens, and Categories.

Podcast details – the details page for an individual podcast shows you the latest episodes available to download. If you tap on the episode it will load immediately and start playing.

Podcast downloads – If you choose to download the podcast episode, just click on the “FREE” icon and then again to download. iTunes will add the episode to your downloads.

Keyboard auto-correction – you can turn off auto-correction (or turn it back on later) with a new option in Settings ? General ? Keyboard.

What do you like best about the new update? Any problems with updating or using the new features? Please let us know in the comments below.
Coverage elsewhere on the GigaOM network: jkOnTheRun.