Apple Unveils Next-Gen, Multitasking iPhone OS 4.0

The new operating system, iPhone OS 4.0, will be released to developers this week and to consumers this summer. It will include support for multitasking, in-app advertising, e-book reading, social gaming and other features. Let’s take a closer look at all new features of new iPhone OS 4.0

Apple today unveiled plans for the biggest and most exciting iPhone software update yet. iPhone OS 4 will include over 100 new user features for iPhone and iPod touch owners to enjoy. Image: Apple

The sneak peak event on the Apple iPhone OS 4.0 is now over. Steve Jobs was on stage and he promised tons of new stuff for the next-generation iPhone OS.

The new operating system, iPhone OS 4.0, will be released to developers this week and to consumers this summer. It will include support for multitasking, in-app advertising, e-book reading, social gaming and other features. Let’s take a closer look at all new features of new iPhone OS 4.0.

1. Multitasking

As expected, the highlight of the new iPhone OS 4.0 will be its support for multitasking of apps. It took them 3 years and almost four generations of iPhones to come to that. They know they’re late but Steve Jobs is promising their implementation is the best so far. And multi-tasking won’t slow down or drain the battery.

“We weren’t the first to this party but we’re going to be the best, just like cut-and-paste,” said Apple CEO Steve Jobs, alluding to the fact that cut-and-paste hadn’t been available until a year after the first iPhone launched.

“It’s really easy to implement multitasking in a way that drains battery life. If you don’t do it just right your phone’s going to feel sluggish and your battery life is going to go way down. We’ve figured out how to implement multitasking of third-party apps and avoid those things.”

iPhone OS 4 delivers seven new multitasking services that allow your apps to perform tasks in the background while preserving battery life and performance. These multitasking services include:

  • Background audio – Allows your app to play audio continuously. So customers can listen to your app while they surf the web, play games, and more.
  • Voice over IP – Your VoIP apps can now be even better. Users can now receive VoIP calls and have conversations while using another app. Your users can even receive calls when their phones are locked in their pocket.
  • Background location – Navigation apps can now continue to guide users who are listening to their iPods, or using other apps. iPhone OS 4 also provides a new and battery efficient way to monitor location when users move between cell towers. This is a great way for your social networking apps to keep track of users and their friends’ locations.
  • Push notifications – Receive alerts from your remote servers even when your app isn’t running.
  • Local notifications – Your app can now alert users of scheduled events and alarms in the background, no servers required.
  • Task finishing – If your app is in mid-task when your customer leaves it, the app can now keep running to finish the task. Fast app switching – All developers should take advantage of this. This will allow users to leave your app and come right back to where they were when they left – no more having to reload the app.

2. Folders

Next up are folders. Apple’s App Store has thousands and thousands of applications sorted in lots of categories, but once those applications made it to the iPhone they were laid out side by side in a checkerboard pattern, forcing users to scroll back and forth across multiple screens.

And now iPhone 4.0 users will be able to organize apps into folders with drag-and-drop simplicity. Get faster access to their favorites and browse and manage up to 2160 apps at once — many more than the current limit of 180 apps.

3. Improved email

The Email app on the iPhone now will offer a common inbox for all email accounts setup on the phone. No more flicking back and forth. And corporate users will be glad they can have more than one Exchange account setup.

4. iBooks

The iBooks e-book reader you’ve probably seen demoed on the iPad will now be available to the iPhone as well along with the iBookStore and free copy of Winnie The Pooh.

5. New features for enterprise

iPhone OS 4 offers more useful features for businesses. With enhancements to security, scalability, and compatibility, IT managers have even more reasons to deploy iPhone throughout their enterprises. The company has introduced a bunch of new stuff such as better data protection, Exchange Server 2010 support, SSL VPN support, and mobile device management.

6. Game center The iPhone OS 4 beta software and SDK includes a developer preview of the GameKit APIs that allows you to create apps that will work with Game Center, Apple’s new social gaming network. Your users can invite friends to play a game, start a multiplayer game through matchmaking, track their achievements, and compare their high scores on a leader board. The APIs are available now and Game Center will be available to iPhone and iPod touch users later this year.

7. iAd mobile advertising solution The final “tentpole” of the new iPhone OS is a new mobile advertising system for the iPhone, iPad and the iPod touch that called iAd. With it, apps can feature rich media ads that combine the emotion of TV with the interactivity of the web. For developers, it means a new, easy-to-implement source of revenue. For advertisers, it creates a new media outlet that offers consumers highly targeted information.

Apple will be selling the iAds and will host them as well. In return they’ll be getting 40% of what the advertiser is paying. Developers get the rest (60%).

Here’s the full list of all new features for customers:

  • Multitasking.
  • Spell check.
  • Bluetooth keyboard support.
  • User-defined wallpaper.
  • 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!.
  • Enhanced Mail.
  • Exchange account.
  • iBooks, just like on iPad, only smaller. You can wirelessly sync books between platforms, a la Kindle.
  • Enterprise features.
  • 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.

Here’s the list of all new features 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.
  • 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).


The new iPhone OS 4.0 will be available this summer but they’re issuing a developer’s preview today so we should hear a lot more about those new features in detail in the coming months. The iPhone OS 4.0 will be available to the iPhone 3G and 3GS as an update. Unfortunately, this multitasking won’t be available for devices older than the 3GS and new iPod touch. So, it means that it won’t work on the iPhone 3G.

The iPad is also getting an update to iPhone OS 4.0 – however later on – in the fall. [Apple via Engadget, CNet and Wired]

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