UPDATE: since this article was written, Apple has changed the name of its new mobile OS to iOS 4. Despite that, all the below information remains accurate, apart from the name. The update will arrive (free) for iPhone 3GS, iPhone 3G and iPod Touch users on June 21, 2010. First-gen iPod Touch and iPhone will not get the upgrade, while the 3G will get only limited benefits from the new OS.
It’s official – iPhone OS 4 will be upon us this summer. And it will finally be able to multitask.
Steve Jobs claims that although iPhone is late to the multitasking party, ‘it’s gonna be the best – just like cut and paste.’
Users will simply have to double click the home button while using an app to reveal a Mac dock-like panel of running apps at the base of the screen.
Stopping the streaming tunes from Spotify while you read your mail will become a thing of the past.
Plus you’ll be able to receive Skype calls with the app running in the background, then check your calendar without losing the VoIP connection.
Still not convinced? Multitasking will allow for background location, so you can get turn-by-turn directions while doing other things with your phone. (Obviously, if you’re actually behind the wheel, we’d recommend you keep your eyes on the road and your hands on the wheel.) And tasks – such as uploading photos – will continue in the background while you get on with whatever’s next on your to-do list.
Yep – we’re all going to have app overload. And that’s why iPhone OS 4 is also introducing folders – groups of apps (games, say) that sit under a single icon on the home screen. You can even add folders to the dock. iPhoners will be able to put over 2,000 apps on their favourite gadget. Did we mention app overload?
Not enough? iPhone OS 4 adds a unified inbox to Mail with the ability to add multiple Exchange accounts. It’ll also allow us to open attachments with their native apps.
iBooks is also coming to the iPhone, although we still question how many people will really want to labour through War and Peace on a 3.5in screen.
Social gaming network
More exciting is the news that Apple is starting a social gaming network for the OS, a sort of Xbox Live for iPhone/iPod Touch/iPad with leaderboards, achievements and friends.
There was good news for developers’ bank managers, too, with the introduction of iAd – an immersive ad channel run by Apple to generate revenue for devs from within their own apps.
The new mobile OS also adds support for Bluetooth keyboards, gives developers access to calendar and photos and introduces hardware acceleration for faster computing. Push notifications are set to become easier to implement and to bypass Apple’s servers, making them – in theory, at least – more efficient.
As expected, there was no sign of Flash support, but there’s plenty for the iPhone faithful to look forward to this summer when the OS is unleashed. Third-gen iPod Touches and iPhone 3GSs will get the full load, with older models taking a stripped down update – sans multitasking.
Early iPad adopters will have to wait until autumn to get the update.