Apple Announces iPhone OS 4– What You Need to Know
It’s here- our first look at the next version of the iPhone OS. Dubbed iPhone OS 4, Apple has once again raised the bar on what smartphone software should be. A lot was announced (spoiler: multitasking is one of them!), so without further ado, let’s get to it.
We’re gonna go piece by piece here, starting with the biggest news, multitasking.
Mutitasking while browsing Safari– finally!
This is the long awaited feature that users have been asking for since the first iPhone was announced 3 years ago. As someone who’s been using an iPhone for a phone, having to constantly switch between apps just for an IM or text is way too frustrating. Thankfully, Apple has finally begun to alleviate this problem with their implementation of multitasking.
To be clear, it’s not exactly like 100% multitasking you see on your PC or Mac; instead you double click the home button which dims the screen except for a small homescreen dock by the bottom of the screen. This dock allows you to open additional apps, thus speeding tasks up and making life generally alot easier.
Now some of you may be reading this and thinking– but wait, isn’t this gonna kill my battery life? Apple had the same concern. Therefore, rather than have numerous apps open at once (like Safari, Mail, Notes, Pandora radio, a game, Skype), it will instead put certain apps in a sleep mode, which quickly resumes right where you left off once you go back to it. So say you’re playing Tap Tap and a Skype call comes in, you can now answer the Skype call, automatically pausing the game, and once your done with the call, you can continue right where you left off– and switch between the apps very quickly.
Now that sleep mode only applies with regard to certain apps, like games. Apps like Pandora, Skype and even others like TomTom, which constantly needs access to your location, can run fully in the background, and continue doing what they need to do even while your in another app like ESPN ScoreCenter or AIM (finally!).
Now this is something no one saw coming today. Think of this like Apple’s version of Xbox Live for your iPhone/iTouch/iPad. You got achievements, leaderboards, matchmaking to connect with friends and other players (such as putting you up against other players who are on your level)– the whole nine yards! This should definitely take iPhone games to a whole ‘nother level, and we are very curious to see how developers will implement these in new apps when it comes out later this year.
Homescreen Updates: Folders, Custom Wallpaper, Improved Spotlight Search and other new features
An example of a Games folder in iPhone OS 4
These two are more along the lines of improvements and updates, but they still are pretty cool nonetheless. Folder allows you to put apps into groups and categories, like you can move iPod, Pandora and other music apps into a folder icon on the homescreen called Music, which shows its contents when tapped (to create a folder, you hold down an app icon till they all jiggle, and then you drag one app on top of another to create a folder). You can do this with as many apps as you want and this should definitely help keep things organized, and if you want, you can place folders in the dock. Oh, and this new app sorting method allows for over 2,000 apps to be stored on your iPhone (compared to the current 180)!
Custom Wallpaper on iPhone OS 4
As we also anticipated, you can now chose your own wallpaper, as we’ve seen with the iPad launch. The dock in iPhone OS 4 also is the new, nicer style that is seen on the iPad and in Mac OS X. Not much, but still appreciated.
Spotlight search is also getting an update here as well. Not only can you search your iPhone for, say, an email, text, contact or song– but now you can search both Wikipedia and the web right from Spotlight. Again, not much but still nice.
Also announced today was
- support for Bluetooth keyboards (like the iPad, and which should make typing long notes and texts much easier with a real physical keyboard)
- spell check
- updated Mail with better support for multiple email addresses, and the ability to open attachments using apps
- support for Places and Faces in the Photos app (again, as seen on iPad)
- here’s another biggie: 5x digital zoom for the iPhone 3GS’s camera with tap to focus support in videos. Another about-time, and while digital zoom isn’t the greatest for quality photos, this is still better than no zoom at all.
These are all part of over 100 new features Apple is introducing in iPhone OS 4.
iBooks for iPhone and iTouch
One of the nicest apps available on the iPad has to be Apple’s iBooks app, and, not surprisingly, Apple is bringing the app in OS 4 to the iPhone and iTouch. It’ll wirelessly sync your pages between devices (you can buy it once on say an iPhone, and it’ll automatically sync the book and even bookmarks and the page you were last on with say an iPad). Oh, it comes with a free copy of Winnie the Pooh.
These are just some of the major new features that we can expect from a user side in iPhone OS 4, Apple also released a bunch of new API’s and developer tools (such as their new venture into mobile advertising with iAd), and for those interested more in the developer’s side of today’s event, check out Apple’s developer site here.
Overall, I gotta say that as a iPhone user, today’s announcement makes me really excited for what’s ahead for the iPhone OS, and I really can’t wait till this new OS comes out (any developers out there let us know how the beta is going!).
Now when can we expect this new update to launch? As with last years event, Apple’s keeping the date hush-hush, only saying that it’ll be out this Summer for the iPhone 3G and 3GS and iPod touch second and third gen (the ones purchased either in late 2008 or 2009 with the thin design and built in speaker) and in the Fall for the iPad.
Now here is where we have to lay some bad news– iPhone 3G and second gen iPod touch users (as well as iPod touch 3rd gen not in 32 or 64 GB) will not be getting the full 4.0 update, and due to hardware limitations, will lack features like multitasking among other features. As for original iPhone and iTouch owners– it looks like your out of luck here as well.
There you have it, a wrap up of today’s iPhone OS 4 event. So, who else here is excited?