Hands on: iPhone firmware 2.2 review

Even the most committed Apple fan has to admit that while the iPhone is a wonderful bit of kit, it's had a few problems. The good news is that the latest firmware update fixes them and adds a few handy new features too.

The bad news? There's still no copy and paste. We're starting to wonder whether we'll have iPhones that plug directly into our brains before we can move bits from one email to another.

So what do you get? The biggie is better mapping, with Google Street View, walking directions and the ability to share your location over email. There's just one teeny-tiny little problem.

While Street View is brilliant, it hasn't launched in the UK yet – so if you want to play with it you'll need to use US addresses until Google gets its act together. It doesn't appear to take advantage of the iPhone's motion sensing, either, so T-Mobile G1 owners can still retain some smugness.

Mail and Safari updates

The update also fixes two extremely annoying Mail issues: failing to fetch email at specified intervals – something that hasn't affected everybody, but that has been slowly driving us daft – and Mail's inability to display wide HTML messages properly. You'll also find some new keyboard preferences in Settings, which enable you to turn auto-correction on or off.

Safari has been updated too, promising better reliability and performance, and you also get a bigger viewing area. That's because the search and address bars have been pushed into a single line, with the boxes expanding when you use them. It's a little tweak but it does make a difference. Post-upgrade our iPhone also seems to have more reliable wireless connectivity even when the signal quality isn't brilliant, although that might just be coincidence.

Over-the-air podcasts

The 2.2 upgrade also addresses one of the most common complaints about iTunes: podcasts. Now there's a dedicated podcast button that enables you to find and download audio and video podcasts without having to sync with your computer. Once downloaded, you'll find your podcasts in the More > Podcasts section of the iPod app.

Last but not least, Apple has looked at the phone bit of the iPhone. You get better sound quality for voicemail – a fix for a problem that, to be honest, we hadn't really noticed – and Apple also promises fewer failed and/or dropped calls. As you'd expect it's too early to tell whether the update delivers on that promise, so please let us know whether it works for you.

Overall, then, 2.2 is a major upgrade and a welcome one, although it's annoying to have Street View when there's no UK data for it. However, it's nice to see that instead of saving new things for the next hardware revision, Apple is committed to making existing iPhones better and better.

Carrie Marshall

Writer, broadcaster, musician and kitchen gadget obsessive Carrie Marshall (Twitter) has been writing about tech since 1998, contributing sage advice and odd opinions to all kinds of magazines and websites as well as writing more than a dozen books. Her memoir, Carrie Kills A Man, is on sale now. She is the singer in Glaswegian rock band HAVR.