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iPhone OS 4.0: Details, Details, Details

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I’m downloading iPhone OS 4.0 right now, and the reason that I’m doing so isn’t the big multitasking feature, which grabbed a lot of attention but won’t actually be implemented until devs start including the features in their apps. I’m doing it for the little things.

Little things like Bluetooth Keyboard support and tap to focus for video. And medium-sized things like the introduction of folders. Home screen wallpapers I could actually take or leave, but everything else sounds pretty awesome. Including gloating to my iPad-toting friends when I get the features well before them.

iPhone OS 4.0 comes out for the iPhone and iPod touch this summer, as new iterations of the OS generally do. But iPad owners will have to wait until the fall to see the same features implemented on their devices. The operating systems must be fairly different to merit such a gap between the two release dates, although at least a few of the end user-targeted features introduced are iPad originals.

Developers will no doubt be excited about OS 4.0’s new APIs, including full video/still camera access, support for in-app SMS, calendar access, in-app SMS, 5x digital zoom and carrier info access. But that’s not what’ll really have devs salivating. That’d be Apple’s (s aapl) new iAds platform, which aims to revolutionize mobile advertising. iAds promises to provide a much more interactive advertising experience, right from within apps, and without leaving them. It certainly has a lot of potential, but it remains to be seen whether users will bite. Apple will be using an industry standard 60/40 revenue split for iAds, with devs getting the lion’s share.

Another new intriguing platform-wide feature is Game Center. It looks to accomplish what OpenFeint and Plus+ do now, but across all games (that use the API, I imagine). It’s bad news for those fledgling gaming networks, but it promises to be a much more unified and comprehensive game ranking and matchmaking system for iPhone end users. And it’ll have achievements, too.

It wasn’t all good news for iPhone owners today, though. Owners of 3G and older model iPhones, and of second-gen and older iPod touches are going to be a bit sour following the announcement. They’ll get some of the benefits of iPhone OS 4.0, but not all. The hardware isn’t up to the task of multitasking, for instance. Apple’s probably not losing too much sleep over this, since it provides a mighty nice upgrade incentive.

Many more details will no doubt emerge as the summer go-live date approaches, both about the iPhone OS and about new iPhone hardware. I know I’ll be keeping an eye out for new features as I explore the developer preview.

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24 Responses to “iPhone OS 4.0: Details, Details, Details”

  1. Stefan

    Do you know of the date that the Iphone OS4 is coming out ?
    I was wondering Because someone Stole my Daughter’s 3GS Iphone and I don’t want to buy another 3 GS if The OS 4 is coming out soon.

  2. iPhone Games developer

    This is great. Looks like we, developers are going to have even more great features to make use of and offer our customers even more opportunities

  3. in app sms must have a been a big deal, it got mentioned twice ;)

    Hmm, gaming achievements, thought we got over that…

    the original iphone (2g) and the 2nd gen (3g) won’t get multi tasking, lucky us, the 3rd gen (3gs) will, plus what ever else comes out to entice me to upgrade…

    • Multitasking is available for ALL apps.

      Background audio, background location, voice over ip, and other services are for some special class of apps.

      To enable multitasking for other apps a developer should utilize the fast app switching service. This would allow a user to switch away from your app then when they come back they can continue where they left off.

  4. Cold Water

    The older iPhone hardware can, and always has been able to handle it. What’s different now is that omitting support is the thin end of another wedge to make you upgrade.

    It’s nice to know iPhone OS is at least trying to catch up with Android, though…

    • I think there’s an important line between “can handle it” and “can handle it to Apple’s satisfaction.” I’ve seen comments from a number of jailbroken iPhone users that their older hardware gets significantly slower when trying to multitask; Apple won’t stand for that in an official release.

  5. Really wish to know what are the other 100 new features in 4.0 OS , im googling about that since the event has ended , but seems still no one have a full acknowledgment about them.