This has been one of the most requested features for quite a while, and in iPhone 3.0, it's finally a reality. Push notifications allow iPhone applications to provide a faux backgrounding service. In our testing, Apple's notification service works so well that you would almost think the application was running in the background.
When you download and install an application that features notifications, you get a new Settings menu called "Notifications." In this panel, you will be able to select, per application, how you would like to receive notifications. You can choose any variety of sounds, alerts or badges. Sounds will be a predefined sound from the application that will sound only if you have the ringer on; alerts will give you a pop-up alert that will either appear on the lock screen or in any application you might be in at the time; badges will give you a counter on the application icon on the home screen.
Quite a few people (including myself) have wanted an app launcher on the iPhone. While Spotlight Searching doesn't make up for the lack of an actual app launching application, it does provide some solace to the app loving iPhone users out there. Spotlight resides on the home screen, taking up one of the screens. When you are on the first home screen, sliding to the right will display the searching interface.
While simple, the interface allows you to type in a name, phrase, or other search terms and have the whole phone searched. Enter a contact, it will display the contact name. Enter a song, it will show the song and allow you to go to the iPod application. Enter a calendar event, and with one click you can view that calendar and the event schedule.
There are some shortcuts and settings that go along with Spotlight. If you want quick and easy access to the Spotlight feature, you can have it automatically launch by double clicking the home button (you can change this setting in Settings > General > Home). Just as you have the ability to order search results in Spotlight on your Mac, Spotlight on your iPhone allows you to do the same type of order. Just navigate to Settings > General > Home > Search Results. From this screen, you can enable/disable certain search results and control the order in which the search results are shown.
Read on to learn more about the iPhone 3.0 software update, and to see more of the new features.