Today, Apple unveiled the next operating system for the iPhone. CEO, Steve Jobs presented the new iPhone, iPod touch and iPad operating system’s many exciting new features. There will be over 100 new user features for people who own an iPhone or an iPod touch. App developers will also have a huge number of exciting ways to make their Apps more powerful and innovative. iPhone OS will ship this summer for the iPhone and iPod touch, and in the fall for the iPad. There was no discussion nor announcement of new hardware. In each of the past three years, the new OS has been announced and previewed in March with the newest iPhone being released the following June and newest iPod touch being released the following September. So it’s likely this pattern will hold true this year.
One of the most exciting new features is Multitasking. This will allow tasks to be performed in the background, yet preserve performance and battery life. So, for example, you will be able to play music using Pandora while you surf with Safari. Or you could make a Voice of IP call while playing a game. You’ll double-tap the home button and a dock of running Apps pops up from the bottom edge of the screen. The user then selects the App they want to go it and the iPhone will switch.
With OS 4 you will be able to organize all your Apps into folders using drag-and-drop. Apps can be grouped by categories, like “games” or “travel”. The folders get an icon containing little icons of the enclosed Apps, and these folders can be placed into the dock. The maximum number of Apps you can have will increase from the current 180 to 2160.
Email is improved with a new, unified inbox that will show new email from multiple email accounts. You will also be able to organize messages by threads, and open attachments in third-party Apps. Exchange users will be able to have more than one Exchange account.
iPhone OS 4 supports the use of iBooks which are available from the iBookstore that was made available with the introduction of the Pad. You’ll be able to browse thousands of books and read sample pages before you buy them. Read your iBooks while listening to your music collection.
iAd will become a centralized mobile advertising platform. Developers will be able to insert ads into their Apps to help support their development time and talents, especially for free and low-cost Apps. The ads will have special features that could make them interesting, and even fun. This will likely become a somewhat controversial new feature for some users.
Enterprise features are being added to support businesses. Steve Jobs noted that 80 percent of Fortune 100 companies are using iPhones in some way. IT managers will now have enhancements to security, scalability and compatibility. Also added are support for the Exchange Server 2010 and SSL VPN. This will give them more reasons to use iPhones throughout their enterprises.
There will also be a new Game Center. This is an online network in which you can challenge your friends to games and compare your performance to the competition. There will also be automatic matchmaking to find others of similar ability in a game and put you all into a game.
iPhone OS 4 Compatibility – iPhone OS 4 will work with all its new features, including multitasking, with the iPhone 3GS and 3rd-generation iPod touch (32GB and 64GB models from late 2009) only. The new OS will also work with the iPhone 3G and include most of the features, excluding multitasking.
We should see it this summer for the iPhone and iPod touch and this fall for the iPad. I look forward to it. My only disappointment is they did not include a system-wide ability to send documents to a printer on the same wireless network. I was really hoping for that one.