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Apple Debuts New iPhone OS 4.0; Due Summer 2010

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This morning at Apple’s iPhone OS 4.0 event, the company officially debuted iPhone OS 4.0 for iPhone and iPod Touch.

The last iPhone/iPod Touch update was version 3.1.3, released in the beginning of February 2010. At the time, 3.1.3 was a minor update addressing various bugs and issues with applications and also improving the accuracy of the reported battery level on the iPhone 3GS (battery icon/percentage indicator).

iPhone OS 3.2 made its debut on the new Apple iPad, but was unavailable for the iPhone or iPod Touch.

With the debut of iPhone OS 4.0, Apple introduced over 1,500 new API’s and has revealed 100 new features, many of which have been long time wishes of many users such as Multitasking. Among multitasking, other features include:

  • In-app SMS
  • Automated testing
  • Full map overlays
  • Full access to still and video camera data
  • Carrier information
  • ICC profiles
  • Image I/O
  • Half-curl page transition
  • Quick Look
  • Package-based documents
  • Call event notifications
  • iPod remote control accessories
  • Draggable map annotations
  • 5x digital zoom
  • Tap to focus on video
  • Gift apps
  • Geotagging
  • Places in the photo app
  • Home Screen wallpaper
  • Bluetooth keyboards
  • Spell checker

Multitasking (iPhone 3GS, iPod Touch Third Gen)

One of the key highlights of the iPhone OS 4.0 event was Multitasking support. During the demo, Jobs could open Safari, go into Mail, come back to Safari, then go into Tap Tap Revenge and still be kept where he was before. Jobs then tapped on a multitask button and went back to Mail.

With each newly opened app, every one of the apps such as Mail, the game, and Safari retained the state that they were in instead of launching from the start (as apps would typically do). From the Home Screen, users can also access the Multitasking Tray.

Multitasking was made possible from the combination of seven features in iPhone OS 4.0:

  • Background Audio: Ability to play audio while using any app (like playing Pandora)
  • Voice over IP: Skype calling while using other apps
  • Background Location: The iPhone constantly updates your location
  • Push Notifications: Alerts pushed to the users home screen immediately
  • Local Notifications: Like push notifications but does not access Apple’s servers. The notification is local on the device.
  • Task Completion: Processes compete downloading even if they are exited
  • Fast app switching: Exited apps save their current state and restart where the user left off

Bluetooth

The presentation briefly touched on support for Bluetooth keyboards. In other words, users can sync a Bluetooth keyboard to their iPhone and type with that instead of the on-screen keyboard.

Folders

Folders are also debuting on iPhone OS 4.0. This feature operates exactly as you would expect folders to work on a computer. Users can drag existing home screen apps into a folder to create a single folder with up to nine apps.

To create a folder, users simply drag one app over top of another and a new folder is created with the two apps. The folder is also automatically named based on the category that these apps came from. For example, if users drag in two games, the folder will be named “Games”.

Mail

iPhone OS 4.0 also introduced support for multiple Exchange accounts. Previously, the iPhone could only support one Exchange account at a time.

Other mail enhancements include a Unified Inbox, similar to what is seen on Mac Mail. Users can now have multiple email accounts filling into one unified inbox. The benefit of this is not having to jump between inboxes to view mail.

iBooks

Just like with the iPad, the iPhone and iPod Touch are now receiving the iBooks app. iBooks, along with the iBookstore, is where users can download free and paid books and use iBooks to store and read the content.

Game Center

Game Center is Apple’s new gaming platform. The best example of this is Microsoft’s Xbox Live but on the iPhone, iPod Touch, and iPad.

Game Center will include such features as achievements, leaderboards, and match making. The latter feature is what matches two players of similar skill together in a game.

Release Dates

iPhone OS 4.0 will be available for the following devices:

  • iPhone 3GS: Summer 2010; All features available
  • iPhone 3G: Summer 2010; Some features unavailable, like Multitasking
  • iPod Touch Third Generation: Summer 2010; All features available
  • iPod Touch Second Generation: Summer 2010; Some features unavailable, like Multitasking

Based on today’s event, it seems that Apple is going to drop support the Original iPhone (iPhone 2G) and first generation iPod Touch.

[Photo Credit: Engadget, Gizmodo]

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