The blogosphere will be “all OS 3.0, all the time” for a while. I wanted to wait a little bit and see some reaction to the update. Predictably, Paul Thurrott didn’t approve. He cherry-picked a few things and claimed they should have been there from the […]


The blogosphere will be “all OS 3.0, all the time” for a while. I wanted to wait a little bit and see some reaction to the update.

Predictably, Paul Thurrott didn’t approve. He cherry-picked a few things and claimed they should have been there from the start. He conveniently ignored the new APIs and other enhancements, and then just griped about there being no hardware announcements. At a software event. The man gets less relevant about Apple every day.

To me, the biggest surprise came from another GigaOM network site, jkOnTheRun. An article there noted that 40 percent of the readers polled were “underwhelmed” with the update. A few even said the announcement “pushed” them to the Palm Pre.

What announcement did they watch? Seriously, there were some things introduced that, had Palm announced them today, I’m sure would have been proclaimed as incredible, stupendous, colossal, way ahead of the iPhone, etc.

What I liked best about the announcement was that it was typically Apple. Sure, it included some “obvious” features, but it also included things no one had thought of or discussed.

Peer to Peer

This one is extremely interesting. As a developer you can write a device that will talk to another iPhone or accessory in question. It utilizes Apple’s proven Bonjour technology and wireless connection via Bluetooth (no Wi-Fi needed). No pairing is required, either.

This makes it a great impromptu setup for, say, the back seat of a car where your kids can play games with each other. The ability to talk to accessories is also big, and can be done over the dock connector as well as using BT.

1,000 New APIs

No, this isn’t big at all (*rolling eyes*). I still believe the biggest question mark on the Pre is using HTML/JAVA/CSS for app development. Some good stuff for the iPhone was written in this manner, but nothing like what we’ve seen since the bona-fide SDK. How will the Pre fair any better?

Meanwhile, the powerful SDK for the iPhone just took a leap ahead. You’ve got in-app e-mail capability, the proximity sensor is now available, the built-in iPod library is accessible, streaming audio and video over HTTP, a shake API is included, Apple’s data detectors are available, and even an in-game voice chat capability.

And that’s just scratching the surface of the new APIs for developers.

There’s also the push mechanism, which I think is great for background notification, though lacking elsewhere. I wrote about that here.

In-App Purchases

Another developer-enticing feature — and it’s hard not to see them excited by this — now you can sell your app for $5 or $10 but not allow every level, or every control. You can upsell for the more serious users willing to pay more, while still allowing the casual user to obtain an affordable version of your app. This makes a lot of sense to me.

Meanwhile, I applaud Apple’s decision to allow in-app purchases only for purchased apps. Some developers may balk at not being able to give it away and then upsell, but that’s borderline “bait and switch” in my opinion. I think Apple’s correct to claim that a free app should not prompt you to purchase anything.

Developer Demos

Depending on your interests, these ranged from interesting, to boring, to outright bizarre. But remember this was a software OS event. Sometimes there’s no better way to describe the use of a new capability than just to show it being done by others (some of which may be your own competition). These are, if you will, a “necessary evil” in an SDK demo.

I found ESPN’s demo pretty cool, and the medical apps amaze me as well.


Apple’s implementation of this is sweet. Not only can you search in an app, like Mail, but they have a spotlight search page as well. I can search for songs, artists, calendar entries, etc. Bottom line is Apple brought Spotlight to the iPhone. Pretty obvious, but very nice.

Another cool feature is that for email it will search not just the 200 mail messages you have on the phone, but continue the search on the server as well. This is great! In fact, I may drop back to only 100 messages or so locally since I can now search them all anyway.

The Checklist Stuff

Then there’s the stuff Apple supposedly had to have. I say “supposedly” because Apple sold 17 million of these devices — 30 million with the touch — and 800,000,000 apps without any of these allegedly mandatory features.

  • Copy and paste looks well done. Frankly, until I can get my grubby little fingers on it and try to drag the targets, etc., I won’t know how well it works in practice, but it looks good.
  • I didn’t need MMS, but I’m glad I’ll have it. Some people I know don’t have smartphones (gasp!), so emailing a picture is pointless. They use MMS and I’d like to, too. Sucks that my 1G iPhone won’t support it, but I’m buying a new one with OS 3.0 anyway.
  • The landscape keyboard is a big thing for a lot of people, though it means nothing to me. I don’t use my thumbs to type. Still, it’s a pretty obvious feature to add and will likely make a lot of people happy.
  • I really like the improvements to the Messages app (formerly SMS?). Nice that I can delete specific messages and not the whole conversation. Also nice that I can forward messages.

Other Stuff

And then there were the things mentioned right at the end, with no further explanation or demo.

  • Notes syncing. I’ve avoided a lot of notes for this very reason, choosing instead to use an open email or text file on iDisk so that I’d gave access to it all. Now I can just use notes and be done with it.
  • Auto-Fill and anti-phishing should help Safari a lot.
  • Auto Wi-Fi login. I use Easy Wi-Fi now and can tell you this is a very handy feature.

And More…

The above is just a rough summary of today’s announcements. There’s clearly a lot more there that wasn’t touched on.

It’s going to be interesting to see reports out of the developer community who got the beta today. As they play with the above features, we’ll see how they are implemented and get more details.

Anybody who thinks this upgrade is anything other than huge is deluding themselves. If 2.0 was the Enterprise upgrade with implementing Microsoft’s ActiveSync technology, then 3.0 is back to the developer and consumer community. Opening the floodgates on more useful and interesting apps while tossing in many of the “checklist items” people felt they needed.

I’m impressed with the breadth and scope of this release.

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  1. The clue’s in the name there. Paul Thurott looks to be a Windows evangelist. Personally, the announcement checked every box I had, so no Palm Pre for me. So excited for the release.

  2. I’m curious how much space the v3.0 will take up of the iPhone.

  3. Good insightful article. There appears to be much fascination with the Pre over at Jkontherun. We will see if the Pre actually makes it to market before Sprint implodes or Apple legal counts the intellectual capital intrusions borrowed from their 358 page multi-touch patent.

    Like you, I will pick up the 3rd Gen iPhone w/OS 3.

  4. I, for one, am very excited at all of the upcoming features.

  5. One thing makes little sense. A 3.0 iPhone will talk to complex medical devices over Bluetooth and use the resulting data in clever ways. But it can’t pick up a single character typed on Apple’s own Bluetooth keyboard. What gives?

    Is Apple as weird about keyboards on iPhones as it once was about two-button mice on Macs? If a third-party developer comes up with a Bluetooth keyboard enabled text application, will the App Store approve it?

  6. I was really pleased to see LDAP and CalDAV support included. That will make lots more enterprise integration possible.

    And I think opening up access to the iPod library is great – I hope eMusic comes up with an app for downloading direct to the phone from their service!

  7. Looking forward to these features – most welcome. Some, I’m surprised Apple couldn’t do from the start but glad they’re in now. The iPhone just got hot-rodded and it’s going to be good.

    Tom, Tom, Tom… where would you be without Paul Thurrott as your nemesis? You’d have to write articles that focused on something else much like you insist on Paul’s Microsoft-tunnel-vision prevents him from focusing on anything else.

    You’re both predictable.

  8. Paul is so right on all points!

  9. Ignore the Cretans that are NOT part of the Apple community. These naysayers will never admit they liked anything Apple does. The 17 million iPhone users show just how out of touch they are. Let’s see how many Pre phones Palm will sell offered on Sprint! Not that many I would say.

    The SDK with push, and 1,000 new APIs make the iPhone a developers paradise as does the business model. I think there will be many tears shed at Palm and RIM, not to mention Microsoft in the next coming year! MMS, cut-copy-paste, stereo Bluetooth, etc that these naysayers claim should have been there, matter NOT at all, as these features will be there now!

    I would ask the crackberry fans where are there apps? Ask the MS fans why does WinMo STILL suck? The iPhone is now has more apps that any other mobile platform with over 25K and with this new SDK the iPhone will continue to be the fastest growing mobile platform by far. I can’t wait for the new hardware this summer, further wiping the floor with RIM, Palm, and WinMo!

  10. Truthfully…..regardless , the proof is in the pudding millions users tell the story. You can hate things about facebook, but 175 million and counting tells the true story… right, iphone is the, and its flaws, the most revolutionary mobile product of our time. All other phone companies would have been doing the same thing… I will say what holds up every US phone would be the US networks.


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