It’s difficult to tell who won MORE with Apple‘s newest release: the iPhone OS 4. With increased capabilities for both users AND developers, the iPhone OS 4 has not only answered the prayers of many a mac head, but also has given more tools to the common programmer. With a release date of late spring for the iPhone and fall for the iPad, developers are scurrying to download the newest Beta SDK and begin taking advantage of the newest additions to the iPhone OS.
Now, let’s compare the major innovations, first for the user, then the developer.
The greatest addition to the OS and one for which users have been begging for since 2007 is MULTITASKING. Since that time, Apple has said that they have not wanted to sacrifice precious memory space and battery life for multitasking. However, they have reportedly found out how to implement third party multitasking, making the dream a reality. On their website, Apple elucidated how this will change the user experience: “You’ll be able to make a Voiceover IP call while playing a game or checking email, find a restaurant on Urbanspoon while listening to Pandora, and more.”
To my dismay, however, multitasking will only be available with iPhone 3GS and the third-generation iPod touch (32GB and 64GB models from late 2009). That means if you have an iPhone (3G) or 1st /2nd Generation iPod Touch, you’re out of luck on this feature. Apple says the hardware just doesn’t support the new software.
The message is clear: if you’re interested in taking advantage of all the new features that OS 4 has to offer, it’s time to part with your out-dated device.
THAT MEANS MY 3G HAS TO GO! It seems my decision to trade in my iPhone 3G for the iPad 3G makes even MORE sense than before. (Read that article here: Trading in my iPhone for the iPad.)
Another new feature that Jobs premiered today is FOLDERS. If you have pages and pages of apps on your iPhone, iPod Touch or new iPad, Folders will enable you to, as Apple says, “Organize apps into folders with drag-and-drop simplicity. ” This also means that you’ll get faster access to your favorite apps and browse and manage up to 2160 apps at once – many more than the current limit of 180 apps.
The next new feature is an app, namely iBOOKS – the iPad’s little brother app for the iPhone. While some consumers have recently complained that iBooks is only available for the iPad, Apple revealed this app for one last “In your face!” or, as Ali G might prefer, “BOO-YAH-KA-SHA!” According to Apple, the iPhone app, like the iPad version, will allow users to flip through the pages of a book they’ve downloaded from the iBookstore. In the new iBookstore, released in conjunction with the iPad, users can browse tens of thousands of books – many of which are free. You can even check out reviews and read sample pages before you buy.
The last major update is ENHANCED MAIL. Apple has coalesced email accounts making the mail client even easier to use. They report users can now “see messages from all their email accounts displayed together in a unified inbox, switch between inboxes more quickly, organize messages by threads, and even open attachments in third-party apps.”
Summary of updates for Users:
iBOOKS (already available on iPad)
BLUETOOTH KEYBOARD SUPPORT, and with SPELL CHECK (already available on iPad)
TAP TO FOCUS when recording VIDEO & 5X DIGITAL ZOOM for the Camera
GAME CENTER – iPhone game achievements, leader boards, and match making (think like Xbox Live!)
The new Beta SDK will be available to developers, starting TODAY (4/8)! What will be available to them in this new OS, you ask? To start, the iPhone OS 4 has 1,500 new APIs and, thanks to the new multitasking feature, developers can utilize background audio, VoIP, location data collection, and local notifications (no more “push” notifications).
For applications, one of the most innovative changes comes with the new iAd. iAd is Apple’s answer to more interactive mobile advertising that can be integrated directly into the app without needing to shut the app off. This comes compliments of Quattro Wireless, consolation prize and competitor of AdMob, who, though initially in acquisition talks with Apple, was stolen away by Google. The irony here is that, now, the Federal Trade Commission (the people who OK or stop companies from a merger that would create a monopoly) has blocked the acquisition fearing monopolization of the mobile and internet ad industry. It’s as though, “if Apple can’t have them, no one can!” What a jealous lover Apple can be!
With this new iAd integration, free apps will feature rich media ads that will “combine the emotion of TV with the interactivity of the web.” Therefore, while iAd will keep you in the app, it will take over the screen and even add interactivity — using HTML 5 for video. For developers, Apple will offer a 60 / 40 split on revenue, and users can even buy apps straight from an ad.
Summary of updates for Developers:
Thanks to the new multitasking feature:
BACKGROUND LOCATION DATA, both with live GPS for background turn-by-turn, and cell tower-based
FAST APP SWITCHING
LOCAL NOTIFICATIONS including “push”-like notifications but from the app itself, bypassing the need for a “push notification server”
iAd (it’s a big one, so it gets its own line…)
“QUICK LOOK” to preview documents
PHOTO LIBRARY ACCESS
FULL CAMERA ACCESS
VIDEO PLAYBACK / CAPTURE
“DATA DETECTORS” for dates and address
AUTOMATED ANALYSIS: performance / power testing
In the Q&A section, Jobs and Scott Forstall (SR. VP of iPhone Software) took questions regarding the new multitasking. When asked how one closes the applications when multitasking, Forstall responded “You don’t have to. The user uses things and doesn’t ever have to worry about it.” Jobs added, jabbing at the netbook computer culture, “It’s like we said on the iPad, if you see a stylus, they blew it. In multitasking, if you see a task manager, they blew it. Users shouldn’t ever have to think about it!”
Thanks for looking out for us, Jobs! You’re the man!