The exciting developments coming to the iPhone through the highly anticipated release of firmware 2.2 have been consistently documented. But now we want to bring you an overview of all the thrilling advancements that will soon be available on an iPhone near you.

First, when can we expect the update already? Well, according to MacRumors, we can expect its release on November 21st. The date has not been confirmed and seems rather random considering there are no planned events on that day. For something this huge and with so many new changes you’d think a planned event would be appropriate, but in true Apple style, they may just want to catch everyone off guard.

So far we have uncovered lots of gems hidden in the 2.2 beta 2 firmware, but even with all the discoveries, we found yet another rock that was left unturned.  Just discovered was new functionality of the iPhone’s home button.   Of course a single tap still exits any application and returns to the home screen, but what about a single tap when you are already on the home screen?  In iPhone firmware 2.2 a single tap returns the user back to the first page of the home screen. That’s right, if you are one of those people that have pages and pages of apps, one click brings you right back to see your SMS and other favorite apps, no more finger swipe mania! Double tapping the home button acts as it did before allowing you to choose to go to your phone favorites or iPod.  

Here’s a breakdown of everything that has been confirmed in the new firmware after the jump:


App Store

  • New category icons:  An icon now appears next to each category name.  The icon is of an app that is currently in the store that represents that category.  The app icon Apple chooses to display next to the category also changes sporadically, surely in only a way that Apple can understand.
  • Sorting within categories:  Now when a user enters a category, he will be able to sort the apps by “Top Paid,” “Top Free,” and “Release Date.”  Currently the apps only appear in order of release date, so this will be a nice change for users looking to find quality within a category.
  • Multiple Screenshots:  Users will now be able to see all the screenshots of an application, just like they can on the desktop iTunes rather than being limited to just one picture in the app store.   
  • Report a Problem:  Have a problem with an application?  Does it have a bug?  Is it offensive?  If so one click can send the note right to the developer.  

Podcasts

So what’s going on with Podcasts? well as previously reported , there is a sexy new button on the iTunes tab bar that gives users the ability to download podcasts directly from their iPhone.

  • Both video and audio podcasts will be available for download 
  • Over-the-Air downloads on AT&T’s Edge and 3G networks (limit of 10MB)
  • No file size limit when downloading over WiFi 

Safari

It’s hard to improve on a good thing, so Safari will see very few changes.  The only confirmed change worth noting is the new newly designed user interface to it’s address bar.

  • The address bar on the top of the screen has been split into two sections.  Most of the space displays the URL, while the new section contains room for a google search.  When either area is clicked, the view expands to the full size while the keyboard is displayed.  It matches the style Safari uses on the desktop, and makes the Google search much more visible.  

Maps

  • Street View:  Google street view is most likely the most highly reported feature coming to the new firmware. iPhone users will now be able to get the same view that was highly publicized for Android Phones.  
  • Walking Directions:  No car, no problem.  Users will be able to choose to get walking directions,the time estimates even change to accommodate the slower mode of transportation.   This is really handy in crowded cities with one-way roads that don’t impact the walkers.  
  • Public Transportation:  Find your way using only public transit!  Maps now offers directions and combines different means of public transportation to get you to your destination.  A true treat to someone in a new city and with no rental car.  
  • Location Sharing:  Maps now makes it a snap to send your current location, or any other location to anyone you want via email.  Launch maps, drop a pin and simply email anyone you choose.  If you receive a location it launches your maps application and lets you directions directly.  So what’s the point of Loopt again?

Other Improvements

  • Support for Audio Line-in:  The headphone jack will be able to take accessories that will allow users to record anything they wish, including real instruments.
  • Auto-Correction settings:  This feature can now be turned off for those of us who have mastered the iPhone keypad.    
  • Support for new languages
  • Rating System:  Also, as previously reported, the new rating system will be implemented in 2.2. The rating system will prompt app users to give a rating upon deleting an app, a questionable system. It’s hard to image any user giving anything other than a 1 star rating after DELETING an app.

Now, don’t worry, we haven’t forgotten about the emoticons, however, it’s still unclear if they will actually be included in the update and we cannot confirm they will be there as of this time. Something almost not worth mentioning is that now when you forget your voicemail password, you will be prompted to call AT&T… I recommend skipping this process and using the Direct Line app to get through.

Possibilities about jail-breaking are still unclear, but the iPhone Dev Team says, don’t update to the new firmware right away, so we’ll just have to see what kind of tricks they have coming.

[Images via The Boy Genius Report , AppleInsider, iPhoneYap]