iPhone OS 4 is coming. It's hard to believe it's been almost three years since the iPhone was introduced. In that time we have seen several versions of the iPhone, iPod Touch, and now the iPad. All of them can run the 150,000 + apps in the iTunes App store. Even with that, it's been a bit annoying that we can't do things like run background tasks, like Pandora or Google Latitude.
iPhone OS 4 is set to be launched this summer, and we can't wait to get our hands on it. You will love it if you have a 3rd Gen iPod Touch or an iPhone 3GS. Looks like that's the demarcation point of muiltitasking compatibility. iPad users will get the new OS in the Fall.
Here are the 7 key updates:
Multi-Tasking. Steve said it's easy to implement a version that drains your battery and makes your phone sluggish. Apple's version implements 'services' that apps can access to run in the background. For example, if you want to run Pandora and listen to the music in the background, there is a service Pandora can access to continue to provide that streaming audio.
Apple is providing developers 7 different APIs to enable multi-tasking.
- Background Audo - audio can continue to play in the background.
- VOIP (yes, Skype!)
- Background location (like GPS & social networking apps such as Google Latitude)
- Push Notifications. Previously there had to be an intermediate server. I'm unclear if these will go away or not, or if both styles will still be utilized.
- Local Notification. (For example, Tweetie can notify you of a new incoming @ reply).
- Task completion (such as background uploading to services like Flickr or Facebook)
- Fast App Switching (it saves the current app state and starts back where it left off).
Regarding location services privacy, Apple said they take privacy very serious and are adding several indicators. There will be one in the Status bar to indicate if something is tracking your location. Also, under the settings you can enable/disable location tracking on a per application basis.
Folders. Now you can create folders to better organize your Applications. To create a folder, simply drag an app onto another and it auto-populates into a folder with an intelligent name, such as 'Games'. Since you can create these all over the home screen, you can have 180 folders with 2,160 apps on your phone. Hope they give us some more storage space in the next iPhone!
Mail. Probably the most annoying things on the iPhone is checking email if you have more than one account. Now Mail will feature a unified Inbox, message threading, multiple MS Exchange accounts, and opening attachments with other Apps from the App store. Personally, I'd like to see some more organization tools in Mail. I use the Email more than anything, and it should be one of the most feature rich apps on the platform.
iBooks. Just like the iPad you can now purchase and read your iBooks from the iTunes iBook store. Of course, they will sync between machines.
Enterprise. Adding some enhancements that businesses will like, Apple is addressing the Enterprise to continue to move into Blackberry territory. Data encryption is key and Apple is bringing it, even inside developers apps if they implement it. They are also enhancing ease of deployments, mobile device management, wireless app distribution, multiple Exchange accounts, SSL VPN support, and Exchange server 2010.
Game Center. Apple is making gaming social on their devices. Automatic game matchmaking, progress, achievements, etc. Sounds like an XBOX live experience on the iPhone! Bet those Zune guys are mad Apple beat them to the punch.
iAd. Mobile Advertising. To enhance mobile advertising, Apple is giving developers a way to implement their advertising system into their Apps. They are focusing on interactive and video content without taking you out of your running App. They have built this into the OS, so it should work pretty seamlessly. Monetarily it's a 60% revenue split for the developer, with Apple keeping 40%. Seems a bit high to me. They are using HTML5 to deliver the ads. The demo Steve Jobs did was a Toy Story 3 ad, and frankly, it looked pretty cool. I can see how this is better than the 'AdMob' ads I see in most of my free apps. Still, if you don't have a programmer and a budget, I don't see how the average advertiser can create one.
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