A couple of weeks ago, I took the plunge… after reading a whole lot of blog postings about the horrors that awaited, I bought an Apple developer account and upgraded my iPhone to iPhone OS 3.0 beta 1, which was, thankfully, followed very quickly by beta 2 and for which beta 3 is now available.  I frequently test beta software but rarely do so using devices upon which I rely heavily.  In this case, however, I jumped on the bandwagon and, for the most part, I’m glad I did.

I’ve written previously about what I considered to be some serious shortcomings in versions of the iPhone OS prior to version 3.  With version 3 of the software, it looks like Apple has understood that the iPhone has a rightful place in the enterprise and they’re taking steps to correct some of the deficiencies.  To be certain, they’ve not corrected all of the iPhone’s shortcomings, but what they have corrected was really needed.  A lot of people are excited that Apple has finally added copy and paste to the iPhone.  I am as well, but it’s not huge on my list.

Here are the two features I’m most excited to see in the new software and the features that I felt were truly necessary in order to help the iPhone make its way into the enterprise.

Landscape keyboard. FINALLY!  This is, by FAR, the feature I’m most excited about in the new operating system.  It might seem like a little thing, but for someone with inhumanly large hands, the landscape keyboard is better than sliced bread.  When I composed e-mail messages previously, it was an exercise in frustration because I was constantly hitting the wrong keys.  Now, I can type away with a very low error rate.  In fact, the other day, while I was waiting in line to see my tax guy, I actually composed an entire blog entry on my iPhone just to see how it would go.  While I wouldn’t recommend writing a book on the iPhone, the landscape keyboard is a joy.
Server search for e-mail.  One of the main reasons I carry this device is so that I have access to my e-mail.  One feature I missed greatly when I made the switch from Windows Mobile to the iPhone was the ability to search the server for messages older than the ones cached on the device.  With version 3 of the operating system, this feature has been added.

This is far, far from a complete list of features that have been added to iPhone OS 3.0 with many other important features being added that, while necessary and good, don’t necessarily help the iPhone make inroads in Blackberry-land.  Obviously, not everything is rosy when you run beta software and I’ve run into my share of stability and latency problems, but the ability to actually type on the device and to search my e-mail has been well worth the experience. These two features alone don’t get the iPhone quite all the way into what has been traditionally a Blackberry and Windows Mobile market (hence “almost” in the title), but they certainly are leaps and bounds ahead of where we were just a few weeks ago.