The curtain has been pulled back on iPhone 4, and the list of new features is massive: There's multitasking (finally!), a refreshed interface, and literally hundreds of other changes, all coming this summer. Here's the full rundown.
The new OS will ship in June (Fall for iPad, and a developer preview is available today, so we can expect to have plenty of apps updated and ready for launch.
• Fast app switching: With iPhone 4's multitasking, most apps aren't actually running in the background—just certain functions of the app, like an audio stream or a GPS lock. But! All apps can now be frozen, in full, so that when you reopen them, they're restored to exactly the state they were in when they were closed.
• Local notifications: Notifications can be sent between apps on the phone, not just from remote servers. In other words, if something important happens in an app you've opened and moved away from, a notification will pop up in whatever app you're using at the time, effectively saying "switch back to me!" It's a fairly clever way to keep track of multiple apps without the need for a start bar or dock-type interface. From Apple's dev guidelines:
The advantage of local notifications is that they are independent of your application. Once a notification is scheduled, the system manages the delivery of it. Your application does not even have to be running when the notification is delivered.
Apple's official line:
iPhone OS 4 provides multitasking to third party apps while preserving battery life and foreground app performance, which has until now proved elusive on mobile devices.
And some more technical details, again from Apple's developer guidelines:
An application can request a finite amount of time to complete some important task. An application can declare itself as supporting specific services that require regular background execution time. An application can use local notifications to generate user alerts at designated times, whether or not the application is running.
Folders help users better organize and quickly access their apps. Simply drag one app icon onto another, and a new folder is automatically created. The folder is automatically given a name based on the App Store category of that app, such as "Games," which the user can easily rename. Using folders, users can now organize and access over 2,000 apps on their iPhone.
2160, to be exact.
iPhone OS 4 delivers the best mail experience on a mobile phone with its new Unified Inbox, allowing users to see messages from all their email accounts displayed together in a single inbox. With just a few taps, users can quickly switch between inboxes to see messages from any single account.
• iBooks: Oh hey, that iBooks ebook reader app and accompanying ebook store we first met on the iPad has ambled on down to the iPhone. Nice, since you can now take your books with you wherever you go, as oppose to wherever you go with your iPad.
• Custom backgrounds: Jailbreakers have them. Hell, the iPad has them. Now you can choose a persistent background for your iPhone—and not just for the lockscreen.
• Game Center: Apple's going to roll out a centralized gaming service—a multiplayer network like PSN or Xbox Live—to help connect games to one another, by the end on the year. There are 3rd-party services that already do this, like OpenFeint. They will probably die. Full details
• 5x digital zoom: Could this hint at a higher quality camera in the next hardware? 3.2 megapixels seems a bit low for 5x digital zoom.
• Bluetooth keyboards: Another carryover from the iPad, Bluetooth keyboard support will finally come to iPhone 4.
• A bevy of other new developer features, including 1500 new APIs to play with: See here for more details.
Gizmodo is the world’s most fun technology website, focused on gadgets and how they make our lives better, worse, and more absurd.
Five amazing, clean technologies that will set us free, in this month's energy-focused issue. Also: how to build a better bomb detector, the robotic toys that are raising your children, a human catapult, the world's smallest arcade, and much more.