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 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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