Last week, Apple released the much-anticipated iPhone 3.0 software, available as a free download to all versions of the iPhone. To get it, connect your iPhone to your computer and follow the directions in iTunes.

They also released the new version of the iPhone, dubbed the iPhone 3GS. The main difference between this model and the 3G is speed, although it has a few nifty additions like a compass (handy in that maps can orient themselves to the direction you’re facing), better camera, and voice dialing. The new phone comes in 16 GB ($199) and 32 GB ($299) versions, but these are really AT&T-subsidized prices available only to new buyers or those eligible for an upgrade. If that’s not you, the models will cost $200 more. You can read about AT&T’s upgrade policy here.

The new software has a number of features worth noting, including the ability to cut, copy and paste, landscape mode for most apps, push notification, and a voice memo app. For a more complete list of the new features, see this page, but I’d like to review some of them here.

Cut, Copy, and Paste
Here are some tips for using Cut, Copy and Paste in the new software:

  • To select text, tap-and-hold on it to bring up buttons to allow you to “Select” or “Select All”.
  • As a shortcut, double-tap on a word to select it.
  • Once you’ve selected some text, bars with points appear that define the selection. You can drag those points around to change the selection, then use the Cut and Copy buttons that appear. (“Cut” only shows up if you can edit the text in the first place. For example, you will see “Cut” in an e-mail you are writing, but not in one you’ve received.)
  • Once you’ve cut or copied text, you can paste it as many times as you’d please, just like on your desktop machine.
  • When reading e-mail, you can highlight a portion of the text before hitting “Reply” to quote only that portion of the text rather than the entire incoming e-mail in your response.

Using Links
When reading a web page in Safari, you would tap on a link and the contents of the current page would change. To get back to the page you were on, you would have to use the Back button, but now, you can now tap-and-hold on a link to bring up choices that include copying the link, or opening it in a new page.

Voice Memos
You can now create voice memos with the new Voice Memo app and synchronize them with your desktop via iTunes. Alas, the app only records through the iPhone’s mic or a corded headset, but not through a Bluetooth headset.

Synchronizing Calendars
In the old days (like, two weeks ago), you could synchronize your calendars over the air using MobileMe or directly from your computer through iTunes. Now, you can do both. How does this help? Well, if you subscribe to someone else’s calendar (for example, US Holidays), there was no convenient way to get that onto your iPhone. Now you can do it every time you sync.

As an alternative, you can now subscribe to calendar directly on the iPhone so it will stay updated even when you don’t sync with your desktop. To take advantage of this feature, go to Settings -> Mail, Contacts, Calendars -> Add Account, choose “Other”, then look for the option to subscribe towards the bottom of the screen.

You will also see an option to add a CalDAV account there. CalDAV will let you share a calendar in a way that will let you edit it along with others who are also sharing it. You would need an account on a CalDAV server to take advantage of this, and Google happens to offer this as a free service.

Landscape Mode
Most of Apple’s built-in apps now support “Landscape Mode,” meaning that you can now turn the iPhone on its side to get a larger keyboard. This is especially helpful when typing a lot in the Mail or Messages apps.

Downloaded apps may or may not support landscape, and some do it better than others. The best will let you rotate your phone in any direction, even upside down, while others don’t offer it at all. For example, the free version of AIM does not support landscape while the paid version does.

Push Notification
The iPhone does not run multiple applications at once. While this is better for performance, it has created some unfortunate limitations. To alleviate some of these, Apple has introduced push notification with iPhone 3.0. This is best explained by an example, the AIM client. Before, you had to be running AIM in order to get instant messages. If you were in another app, you would either have to return to AIM to check to see if you got any IM’s, or you could tell AIM to alert you via text messages. Now, even when AIM is not running, you can opt to get an alert on your screen with the incoming IM with an option to launch AIM.

There will be other apps that will take advantage of push notification over time. For example, the AP Mobile app includes this feature to (I think) notify you of breaking news (I haven’t gotten this to work yet). You can see which apps offer this service, and adjust the options for each, by going to Settings -> Notifications on the iPhone. Don’t see it there? That means that you don’t have any installed apps that implement it yet.

[Written by Kem Tekinay]