Apple iPhone 3.0 Event: A Grab Bag of Much-Needed Additions

33 Comments

iphone_301Today was Apple’s (s aapl) iPhone 3.0 Software event, and iPhone users will now have to think up a bunch of other things to moan about in its wake. Among the laundry list of over 100 new feature additions are some of the most frequently talked about omissions, including Cut, Copy & Paste, MMS, landscape keyboard support for all main Apple applications, and push notification for third-party apps.

New iPhone SDK

But that’s just a taste of what was revealed at Cupertino today. Developers will probably be a very happy crowd, since the new developer’s SDK gives them access to over 1,000 new APIs.

Push Notification

That includes the above mentioned push notification API, which allows developers to provide audio, text or badge icon notifications for their apps. Just to be clear, the apps aren’t actually running in the background, which Apple says is too costly in terms of battery life. Instead, updates are pushed from the developers server using Apple’s own notification system.

Google Maps

Other highlights for developers include Google (s goog) Maps integration, so that maps will open right in the apps, instead of redirecting users outside to the official app. Some apps have tried to get around this by using their own maps, or maps from Yahoo (s yhoo), but the result has been clumsy at best.

Peripheral Support

Also noteworthy is hardware-specific app integration, which allows apps to be designed to work with different peripherals, connected to the iPhone via either the proprietary dock connector or Bluetooth. Demos of how this might work included using the iPhone as an equalizer for a stereo dock, and as a blood glucose monitor with a blood-testing device for diabetics.

P2P

Bluetooth can also now be used for peer-to-peer support, allowing iPhones to communicate with each other for multiplayer gaming, and other applications. App developer Smule showed off using this to perform a musical duet with their new Leaf Trombone instrument application.

Turn-by-Turn Navigation

The iPhone will also be able to support turn-by-turn navigation when 3.0 is released, although developers will have to provide their own maps due to licensing issues. Still, expect to see Garmin or some of the other big names jump on this bandwagon early.

Business Models/Payment Schemes

Last but not least, apps will be able to offer paid content, upgrades, and subscriptions from within, sidestepping the App Store altogether. This means the doors are open to a whole host of new business models, which could decrease a lot of the current clutter with regards to different versions of apps depending on price, and the litany of stand-alone book and comic apps. EA (s erts) demoed the Sims 3 to show how this system can be used in terms of additional downloadable content in games.

iPhone 3.0 for End-Users

Copy/Cut/Paste

Developers aside, iPhone end-users will be pleased to find that many of their prayers have been answered. A full, cross-app, platform-wide Copy/Paste solution is present in 3.0, and it works exactly like Kevin Rose described yesterday. HTML copy is supported, as is image cutting, copying, and pasting, and you can now paste multiple images into an email as attachments.

Landscape Typing

The landscape keyboard can now be used in Mail, Notes and the new Messaging app, which replaces SMS. Good news for the chubby-fingered, like myself. This is a huge plus, since it’ll decrease some app store clutter and free up some space on my home screen.

MMS and A2DP

Messaging now supports MMS (iPhone 3G only), including picture, audio, contact and location messages. A2DP stereo support is also now present for owners of the 3G model iPhone, so you can break out those neglected Bluetooth headphones and enjoy being wire-free.

Voice Memo

A new Voice Memo app takes the place of the many third-party recorder apps currently available, allowing you to record, save, and email audio files natively.

Spotlight

Also completely new is Spotlight, and iPhone version of the Mac’s integrated search. Accessible by swiping left from your home screen, it gives you one-stop searching across your phone. Search is now present in Mail, SMS and basically every default Apple application. Spotlight will also search the names of third-party apps, so you can use it as a launcher if you have lots of pages on your springboard.

Overall, iPhone 3.0 seems like a long overdue correction of a number of oversights, with some exciting development tools thrown in. Don’t get too excited yet, though, since most of us will still have to wait for summer to take advantage of the new features. Developers can get their hands on a development beta right now, though. When it does drop, the update will be free for iPhone users, but iPod touch owner (both generations) will have to pay $9.95 for the update.

33 Comments

Peter

I hope there will be support for the Bluetooth: Remote Sim Profile. So my new VW can use the IPhone !!! And offcourse the Bluetooth Telephone Book Exchange….

/me keep on praying !

Pau;

I disagree with Zaq. They arent charging for the SDK. It will be free once the release version is available. They are just only allowing signed up developers access to the beta.

Get off your high horse!

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Ed

While there are lots of great improvements here to the overal capabilities, I’m still waiting to see improvements in the actual phone interface like voice dialing. As a small computer the iPhone is great, but as a phone it’s only mediocre.

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Zaq

Great features but short sighted decision on charging for SDK 3.0 and iPhone 3.0 upgrade for iPod Touch. It seems to me that the real value of the iPhone OS and the App Store business model WAS the unlimited access to the SDK by ANY developer both professional and novice alike. Now, sadly, it appears that Apple is getting sucked into the short sighted greed of many banks whereby users are forced to pay for more and more. If you were excited at the prospect of developing some new and exciting app for the iPhone your enthusiasm may be dampened when you discover the new and exciting $99 entry fee just to try out the SDK. How many future developers will this turn away? Perhaps the big corporate app developers love this idea, after all who needs competition from some lowly kid developer. Then there is the issue of charging iPod Touch users $10 for an upgrade. Another barrier, that at some level of Apple, is surely justified, however misguided. I suppose charging 30% on every iPhone application downloaded just doesn’t generate enough revenue.

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Rohit

Was also waiting to see “Pairing of any bluetooth” device. And still waiting…

Champs

Will I be able to attach files from within Mail, or is that asking too much?

Richard

I’m actually looking forward to this, glad to see it will be a software update. But Im sure hardware will be following suit fairly quickly to knock us 2G users down and our locked in contracts.

I’d have to say my biggest things on here for me as a user is the push notification, spotlight caught me be surprise but I love the idea. I just was saying to myself this morning as I was paging through my apps, damn I wish there was an easier way to do this. Now there will be.

MMS is cool, I never really used it to begin with, but it sure will be easier when I get pictures from friends now to see them, then having to go log in to my carriers website to view. AD2P, now that is something I’ve wanted for a while as well.

As a developer, I’m happy to see a lot of these features coming, and cant wait to get home and play with the beta!

Its just too bad that some of the features weren’t out there in the initial. But I guess if they were, why would anyone upgrade, aside from wanting the newest and best out there.

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Clifford

“The update will be free for iPhone 3G users…” What about us non-3G iPhone users?

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