Team ForeFlight picked up an iPhone 3GS this morning at the local AT&T Store. We had pre-ordered the day of the announcement, so we just walked right in during AT&T’s “special” hours from 7:00am-9:00am.
Our first impression? The iPhone 3GS is fast. Very fast. It’s noticeably speedier when launching apps and surfing the web. The new compass is integrated with Google Maps and points you in the right direction.
Of course we took it for a spin with all of the ForeFlight iPhone aviation apps: ForeFlight Mobile, Checklist Pro, ForeFlight File, and AOPA Airports. All of the apps launch faster, and tapping between tabs is a little zippier. We work hard to make our apps run quickly, even on the older phones, so most of the speed changes are hard to measure with a stopwatch. (Think subsecond, not second.)
However, in ForeFlight Mobile, we install A/FD data and airport thumbnail diagrams to the phone so that pilots can use the app offline. This data takes a minute to download, and then a minute or two to install. We made the code as fast as possible, but the slower chips on the older iPhones and iPod touch models still take a while to install everything. Since pilots only need to do this once a month, it isn’t a big hassle – but we always love faster!
Here’s a comparison chart of installing the airport database and diagrams on a first generation iPhone (Edge), a first generation iPod touch, and the new iPhone 3GS. Download times are not included in these numbers; it’s only the installation of data (extracting and writing to disk).
As you can see, the iPhone 3GS is much speedier than earlier models. For pilots who are buying their first iPhone, we strongly recommend getting the iPhone 3GS instead of the earlier iPhone 3G model. And if you’re already a ForeFlight user and have the itch to upgrade, we can’t blame you!