Apple Announces iPhone OS 4.0, Adds Multitasking and More [Video]

During a presentation on Apple’s Cupertino campus last morning, the company’s CEO, Steve Jobs, announced the highly anticipated next version of the iPhone operating system: iPhone OS 4, putting an end to all the rumors about what iPhone OS 4.0 will (and won’t) include. Among the new features in the OS are multitasking with the help of a new set of APIs. iPhone 4.0 OS will have more than 100 new user features and developers will get access to over 1,500 new APIs. Jobs also announced that Apple has already sold 450,000 iPads.

iPhone OS 4.0 Multitasking First Video

Additionally, Apple is stepping up its mobile device management and deployment management tools. iPhone 4.0 OS also adds wireless app distribution for internal apps and support for SSL VPN.

Unfortunately, this multitasking won’t be available for devices older than the 3GS and new iPod touch. Multitasking is just one of seven different new “tentpole” features, including Game Center, enhanced Mail, and more…

Notable New Features in iPhone OS 4.0 (“tentpoles” are in bold):

– Multitasking.
– Spell check (like on the iPad).
– Bluetooth keyboard support (again, on the iPad).
– User-defined wallpaper (a jailbreak favorite).
– Tap to focus when recording video, just like with photos, and a 5x digital zoom for the camera.
– Playlist creation and nested playlists.
– App folders
for sorting apps! You can even put an app folder in the dock.
– Enhanced Mail!
You can have a merged inbox view, switch between inboxes quickly, and sync to more than one Exchange account. There’s also threaded messaging (at last!) and in-app attachment viewing.
– iBooks
, just like on iPad, only smaller. You can wirelessly sync books between platforms, a la Kindle.
– Enterprise
features, including remote device management and wireless app distribution.
– Game Center
. It’s like Xbox Live, but for iPhone games. Includes achievements, leaderboards, and match making. It will be available as a “developer preview,” and out for consumers later this year.

Notable New APIs in iPhone OS 4.0 (for Developers):

– New SDK, available today.
– 1,500 new APIs.
– Background audio (think Pandora).
– Background VoIP (think Skype).
– Background location data, both with live GPS for backgrounded turn-by-turn, and cell tower-based for lower power draw.
– Local notifications. Like push notifications, but sends a notification straight from the app without needing a push notification server, perfect for an alarm, for instance.
– Fast app switching. Saves the state of an app and resumes it from where you left off, without dwelling in memory.
– iAd. Apple says it’s for keeping “free apps free.” The ads keep you in the app, while also taking over the screen and adding interactivity — using HTML 5 for video — up to simple gaming in-ad. Apple will offer a 60 / 40 split on revenue, and users can even buy apps straight from an ad.
– In-app SMS.
– Map overlays.
– Quick look for previewing documents.
– Photo Library access.
– Calendar access.
– Full access to the camera.
– Video playback and capture.
– Date and address “data detectors.”
– Automated testing and performance / power analysis (the same tools Apple uses).

iPhone OS 4.0 Multitasking First Video:

The whole idea behind the iPad and some of the new features in iPhone’s OS 4 seems to be geared towards ease of use by everyone, especially those who don’t know how to utilize current technology very well and need something easier. Typically with multitasking, the more processes that you run, the more burden you’ll place on battery life. The application would have to page into and out of memory a lot more, and as a result, less memory and processor power will be available on a per-app basis. It’s a trade-off. For me, and I’m sure for many others, it’s a trade-off we’re willing to make in order to cash in to the associate benefits.

What about you? Is multitasking a feature that you’re going to be taking advantage of? Would you rather swap it out for better battery life and app performance? Let us know in the comments.


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