iPhone OS 4 Event Announced

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Less than a week after the iPad launch, Apple has sent out media invitations for a “sneak peek of the next generation of iPhone OS software.” The event will take place this Thursday, April 8, at 10:00 Pacific Time at the Town Hall on Apple’s Cupertino campus.

As usual, no additional details, though the wording of the invitation apparently means that Apple will continue to use the “iPhone” moniker for an operating system used by the iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad. Besides that, it’s all speculation, so let’s begin!

Conventional rumor wisdom strongly favors multi-tasking being added to iPhone OS 4. The sense is that multi-tasking will be done via some kid of Exposé-like interface, at least on the iPad. On the handheld devices, that’s hard to visualize. It’s also hard to imagine unfettered multi-tasking on older iPhone OS devices. The original iPhone, iPhone 3G, and the first and second generation iPod touch only have 128MB RAM on board, compared to 256MB RAM for the iPhone 3GS, third generation iPod touch, and the iPad.

Beyond that, there have been rumors of multi-touch gestures, as well as a unified inbox for Mail but there’s also a less-reported issue of price. MacRumors recently dug into the iPhone OS SDK, finding terms stating Apple promises to provide free updates “up to and including the next major iPad OS software release following the version of iPad OS software that originally shipped from Apple on your iPad.” Because of new accounting rules, Apple may very well no longer provide free updates to iPhone and iPad users, while continuing to charge iPod touch users for OS updates. Honestly, that wouldn’t be a big surprise from Apple.

The biggest surprise likely won’t be answered Thursday at all and concerns the specs for the next iPhone, which may be implied in the name. The iPhone HD has been the rumored favorite, suggesting a big increase in display resolution, perhaps more than doubling the current 320 by 480. That would simplify development going forward with the iPad, but it’s hard to imagine Apple letting that surprise out before the launch of the next iPhone, expected this summer.

TheAppleBlog will, of course, be providing coverage of all the day’s surprises and not-surprises, so be sure to check here.

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