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.
New Features: Multitasking, App Folders and More
• Multitasking: It's here, finally. It's handled with a simple task switcher: double click your home button, and you get a list of running apps. Select, switch, done. Multitasking is limited to audio streaming, VoIP and GPS apps, as well as a few other allowances: they can finish specific, important tasks in the background, for example. As far as non-music/nav/VoIP apps, those can be suspended in the background, but not left running. (See below.) Full details here.
• 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.
• App folders: Now you can sort your apps into folders! That's homescreen clutter solved, just like that. Apple's description:
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.
• A new Mail app: Unified inboxes, multiple Exchange accounts, fast inbox switching, threaded messages: These new features are actually a huge deal, since the iPhone's mail client has barely changed since 2007, and Apple doesn't allow alternative mail apps. Apple's pitch:
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
iAd advertising: It looks like Apple's finally making use of Quattro, that mobile ad company it gobbled up a few months ago, by rolling out its own advertising platform, a turnkey ad plugin for app developers called iAd. The theory here is that instead of relying on links to external websites, which pull users out of apps whenever they tap on an ad, developers can use Apple's new tools to keep people in the app while still showing them advertising—sort of like popover browser windows. You can watch videos, play games, and even buy apps from within these ads. This is in the iPhone OS 4 developer tools, but it's not explicitly a part of OS 4, so you won't see apps with iAds until later this year. Full details here.
• 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.
Which Phones Get It, and When?
When the software ships in the summer, iPhone 3GSes and iPod Touch 3rd-gens devices will get all of the new features. The iPhone 3G and Touch 2G will get "many things," which doesn't include multitasking. I repeat: the iPhone 3G won't get multitasking, ever. iPhone 2Gs will be left on a hillside somewhere to die of exposure, or something.
What About the iPad?
The iPad won't get the 4.0 upgrade until Fall of this year, a few months after the iPhone does. So, you'll be able to multitask on your dinky little iPhone before you'll be even be able to listen to Pandora and check your email at the same time on your giant iPad.
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These are all software changes, what about hardware? And will the iPhone look the same as it always has? I think I'm not the only one who's gotten annoyed of it's same appearance generation after generation. They could make some improvements.
Did they say if it would cost?
This was a meeting to announce the new OS, why would they go off onto the new hardware tangent? They announce those things later in the summer (probably around the time 4.0 is released for the phones and iPods)
Really Omaracoustic? You just had to find something to complain about didn't you? How many times did you have to read the article before you could think of something negative to say? 4 maybe 5 times? How about you take your negativity and gtfo.
Holy crap this is the moment I've been waiting for!!!! Finally I can stream Pandora and watch porn at the same time!!!!
The unified mailbox is a plus. Now if yahoo didn't charge to use POP...
Multitasking is great but it tends to just drain the battery, which already isn't great on the iphone
Did you even read the article? The way that the multitasking has been implemented, there will be a very minimal increase in battery usage, unless of course you are listening to pandora, talking to someone on Skype, downloading an app or some other file and also surfing the web or playing a game... THAT would drain the battery.
Also watch the keynote for a better explanation of all the mentioned features: www.apple.com/podcasts/apple_keynotes/apple_keynotes.xml
Half this shit on here was available to me when I had my jailbroken iPod Touch. 3 YEARS AGO. Folders, backgrounds, etc. Okay maybe not half, but seriously, it's taken Apple this long to get with the picture? There's so much more this software could do if they just opened it up a little..
Great update, I was hoping multi tasking would be added for a long time. Didn't buy an iPad so far and with the delay on the OS update I'll probably wait even longer before I consider it!
"3.2 megapixels seems a bit low for 5x digital zoom."
Seriously. Nothing is too low for digital zoom, nor too high. Digital zoom is nothing, it is an useless feature that makes me want to slap anyone who even bothers to mention it. It does not hint at a higher resolution camera, it hints at the fact that apple wants to make money by telling people lies.
Can't wait to download OS 4.0 to my 3GS iphone.
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I was mad when I heard about Apple only accepting credit-debit card payments, supposedly allowing Apple to track marketing and prevent wholesale exportation of their devices to China. What crap. As if Apple could prevent China from knocking off their tech. As if their unlawful restriction keeps any illegal act from happening. It is a discriminatory sales practice, and the $20.00 bill in my wallet says it is legal tender. Maybe Apple knows something about our money that the rest of us don't, huh? They sure did keep that handicapped lady who had saved for six months from buying one, though. Company policy worked like a champ there, Steve.
Messaging on this <a href="http://cellocean.com/iphone-4s-specifications-2210.html">mobile phone</a> has been given something of a boost by the inclusion of the iMessage, which is a BBM-a-like service for iOS devices. It can be used on any device running iOS 5, which means conversations can be easily carried across on loads of Apple products without an issue. While many will expect iMessage to be a separate app in the same manner as BBM, it simply jumps in when a relevant phone is on the other end of the conversation, meaning essentially free text messaging and cool features like read receipts and being able to see when the other person is typing. However, this will be more useful for iPhone 3GS and 4 models, as it's surely only good to replace text messaging for those that need to save money and haven't got a price plan that offers thousands of messages for free each month. iPhones have always been looked at as decent messaging devices, and that's certainly true when it comes to email. There's a unified inbox for all your accounts, with multiple email addresses supported on the phone. Setting these up is as simple as you'd imagine, with only an address and password needed in most situations. As we mentioned earlier, it's so easy to keep track of your emails thanks to the new notifications system, but it's hardly anything new, so not really a unique selling point. The keyboard is another great selling point from Apple for its iPhone - some people have complained that it's a bit hit and miss in the past, but most people should have become trained in the art of tapping out a message on a touchscreen, so most will quickly be up to speed with the well-known keyboard. There's a new addition to the keyboard, and that's an option to speak out the message reply using Siri. It's almost unerring in its accuracy compared to other voice recognition systems, although you do need to say things like 'comma' or 'exclamation mark' to add in the punctuation. We sent 100 messages using Siri to see the accuracy, and found that the accuracy was around 45%, although shorter messages were obviously better. However, we were relieved to be able to head back to tapping out our messages on the keyboard, as you could make sure what you wrote was correct first go. If you're going to speak your messages, why not just call the person?