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iPhone 4.0 OS – Breakdown of features

Another Apple event has been completed and there is now plenty more information to sink ones teeth into, as Apple gave us a sneak-peak into the future with the announcement of the features of the new iPhone 4.0 OS which will be available to iPhone 3G(S) and iPod Touch users this summer.

The iPhone 4 OS has turned out to be packed with new and improved features, and we are glad to announce that multitasking for the iPhone 3GS and iPod Touch 3rd generation has now become official together with a refreshed interface.

For developers a beta version is available now, but for the rest of us we will have to wait until June when it becomes available for iPhone 3G/3GS and 3rd generation iPod Touch owners. It is likely that the timing will be around the time of the launch of the 4th generation iPhone, which is also expected in June, probably at the WWDC. For the many of you that has already bought the Apple iPad, the upgrade will become available in the fall sometime.

Multitasking

It has been a l0ng time coming and the rumours and speculations have been many, but finally multitasking is here for the iPhone and iPod Touch in the new iPhone 4.0 OS. What Apple delivered today was a simple solution for switching between tasks by double clicking the home button you get a list of running apps that you can then choose from. True background processing and multitasking though is limited to audio streaming, VoIP and GPS apps, and a few other apps. Those selected apps can complete some selected important tasks in the background. Other apps can also be “freezed”, meaning they are not actually running in the background, but you can access the app at the stage that you left it when you return to it.

What is good about this new multitasking feature is that it will allow you to receive calls from VoIP applications such as Skype while you are doing other things on your iPhone or iPod Touch.

Apple is reporting that this solution allows a degree of multitasking without limiting battery life or performance of the app that you are working on.

Also note that the multitasking feature in the iPhone 4.0 OS will only be available for iPhone 3GS and 3rd gen iPod Touch, and not the iPhone 3G or earlier models of the iPhone and iPod Touch.

Multitasking in iPhone 4.0 OS

Local notifications

A new feature in the iPhone 4 OS is that notifications can be sent between apps on your iPhone, and not just from remote servers. The impact of this is that you might get important notifications from an app that is not running while you actually have another app open, informing you that you can switch back to the other app. Say for example you are on Facebook but you are following Tiger Woods in the Masters, an app that allows you to follow Tiger’s progress in the Masters could alert you to any update to his performance.

App folders

Personally i like that Apple has added this new App Folders feature which will allow me to group similar apps into a category folder to make the screen less cluttered and scattered with different apps. The App Folders functionality in the iPhone 4.0 OS will allow me to for example group all games into one folder, my travel apps in another folder etc. This new features also means that you can have up to 2,000 apps on your your iPhone or iPod Touch.

Unified mail

This feature was heavily rumoured ahead of todays event, and the new iPhone 4 OS delivered as promised, giving us a unified email app. What this means is that you can set up multiple email accounts with unified inboxes, allowing you to see mails from all set up accounts in one unified view, with easy switching between inboxes.

Centralized gaming service

The new Game Center for the iPhone and iPod Touch will give you access to a multiplayer network similar to PSN or Xbox Live, helping you to connect games to one another, a feature that is likely to come later in the year.

The new Game Center will take control of online games on your iPhone. Instead of finding an opponent etc in every single game you can go to the game center, pick your game, and you will automatically be set up with an opponent. There are also unified leaderboards and access to achievements you have made in games.

iBooks

Steve Jobs made a big deal of the new iBooks feature when he presented the features of the Apple iPad back in February, and it then became quite clear that the same ebook app and online bookstore would become available for the iPhone as well.

Struggling to see reading books on the iPhone becoming a popular feature with the screensize, but won’t judge it too hard until had to chance to see it in action.

5x Digital Zoom

Is this new feature of the iPhone 4 OS another sign that an improved iPhone 4th generation and possibly a camera for the 4th generation iPod Touch 4G is in the pipeline? 5x digital zoom is by many seen as a bit of a stretch for a 3.2 megapixel camera, and that it is likely that coming hardware versions will feature improved camera.

Bluetooth keyboard

The iPhone 4.0 OS will bring another feature seen on the Apple iPad to the iPhone, support for bluetooth keyboards. This is another one of those features that at the moment i doubt i will get much use of as if i require a keyboard i’d rather do things on my laptop.

iAd Advertising platform

Apple is making its best use of the purchase of mobile ad company Quattro by rolling out the anticipated iAd advertising platform, an advertising plugin for developers to use that instead of having them build ads in their apps that take the user out of the App, it will now be a smoother experience.

iAd platform will allow developers to run advertising in their Apps without taking the user out of the App. Users can watch videos, play games, or even buy apps from within the ads. This feature is not directly a part of the iPhone OS 4.0 but rather a developer tool, so you might not see iAds from day one when the iPhone 4.0 OS is released to the public.

Other features

For developers there are plenty of other features to dig into as well, including an additional 1500 new APIs.

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