Apple gave the world a sneak preview of iPhone OS 4 today (due out later this year).
OS 4.0 has over 100 new features, some of which users have wanted for years, and a few which make me wonder if they’ll show up on the Mac in the future. Steve Jobs used a tentpole metaphor to outline some of the more important features for the iPhone. They’re what you expect and what you don’t.
7 Basic Tentpoles
The first tentpole is seven multitasking services. These are options which app developers may add to provide additional functionality. First up is background audio.
Pandora’s music service can now run in the background.
That means you can use the phone, play games, browse the web, all the while listening to streaming music from Pandora.
Other multitasking services include VoIP. That’s big news for Skype users. It’s like having two phones in your iPhone. Whatever you’re doing can be interrupted by a Skype call.
Also on the list is Task Completion (download something in another app, and when it’s done, the app quits), Background Location (perfect for TomTom and Loopt), Fast App Switching, and both Push and Local Notifications.
The Folders and Inbox Cometh
Your iPhone (and by iPhone I also include the iPod touch) can display up to 180 apps and games (11 screens, 16 apps each, plus the home row of four). Now apps and games can be dropped into folders. Click a folder and see what’s inside.
The number of apps and games expands to over 2,000. App collectors are in heaven.
One new feature I want is a unified inbox. That’s coming in iPhone OS 4.0. There’s also additional enterprise level features, including more VPN choices, better data protection.
Apple is also building a Game Center into iPhone OS 4. There are 50,000 games on the iPhone already, but Apple is creating a social gaming network that developers can use. Network games will skyrocket across the internet.
The Ad Man Cometh
The 7th tentpole (major features in iPhone OS 4) is iAd—mobile advertising. Apple lost a bidding war to Google for AdMob, the internet’s largest mobile advertising service (still pending regulatory approval). So, the company bought a smaller competitor and plans to revamp mobile advertising, which, so far as I’m concerned, is pretty anemic.
Google makes most of their money on search advertising.
In app ads haven’t taken off at all. Why? iPhone (or any smartphone) users don’t want to click on an ad and exit an app just to see the ad.
Apple’s iAd provides interactive advertising within apps (splitting the revenue with app developers 60/40). Think of it as an app within an app, but it’s really advertising (and using HTML5 instead of Adobe’s Flash—zinnnnngggg!).
Will this kind of in app advertising eventually show up inside Mac apps? That remains to be seen, but advertising is ubiquitous on the internet, and Flash ads need some competition.
The Future Is Now (or, summer and fall)
In an unusual question and answer session following today’s iPhone OS 4.0 announcement, CEO Steve Jobs, lead iPhone techie Scott Forstall, and Marketing VP Phil Schiller provided additional details to the audience.
For example, will there be an advertising approval process? How will AT&T handle increased data usage with multitasking apps? There’s a porn store for Android users, why not the iPhone? The best online look at the details of Steve Jobs iPhone OS 4.0 version came from Engadget.
Apple says iPhone OS 4.0 will ship for the iPod touch and iPhone this summer (no specific date set yet), and an iPad version of 4.0 will ship this fall. More details of all the new features of the iPhone are available on Apple’s web site.