iPhone OS 4.0 Thoughts

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This video was recorded the night before Apple’s big iPhone OS 4.0 announcement. The community speculated as to what could be coming with the next iteration of the OS. With the announcement live now, I want to focus on talking about what is happening, instead of what might happen as we did in this recording. iPhone 4.0 OS will have more than 100 new features. Apple has seven major “tentpole” features that they feel are particularly important.

Multitasking – During the live event, Steve Jobs actually admitted that “we weren’t first to the party, but we’re gonna be the best.” He claims that multitasking is coming to the iPhone in a way that won’t kill your battery or your device performance. Many smart phones are sorely lacking in this area. They don’t handle background processes well. Therefore, users find themselves spending more time fixing things than they do actually getting things done. iPhone OS 4.0 lets you switch tasks by double-clicking your home button. A bar that looks like the dock will show up at the bottom of the screen, showing you a list of running applications.

Folders – I don’t know about you, but I get tired of trying to manage 2349320 screens full of apps. I need folders! It’s impossible to organize everything on my iPhone at this point. I’m seriously happy to see we are going to have this capability in the new version of the OS. The folders look very similar to Stacks from Mac OS X 10.6. You can drag and drop your apps on top of each other to create application folders. This takes the total number of apps that you can see on your phone from 180 up to 2160!

Mail – Mail has gotten a complete overhaul! The first big feature is the unified inbox. You’ll be able to read all of your unread messages in one pane. No more having to navigate around between accounts. If you check more than one email account on your iPhone or iPod Touch, this will be a huge timesaver for you! We also get to enjoy threaded messaging at long last. If you’ve ever used Gmail, you’re aware of how this works. All emails that pertain to each other will display together in a nice, threaded format. This makes it easier for you to refer back to earlier parts of a conversation, and saves you time in the long run.

iBooks – We had our first taste of iBooks on the iPad last weekend. The already-popular feature will now be available on the iPhone and iPod Touch as well. Apple is definitely here to stay in the eBook world.

Enterprise – Enterprise has always had to make their way to Apple. The company never really went after the Enterprise market. That is changing with OS 4.0, though. Look for better email encryption and APIs being made available to developers so that data can be encrypted inside their applications as well.

Game Center – No matter what Nintendo wants to believe, the iPhone OS is becoming a force to be reckoned with in the mobile gaming industry. Apple is planning to add social gaming to the repertoire… much like you’d find on Xbox Live.

iAds – iAd is designed to allow developers to make money while keeping their apps free to download. Interactive video content can be included in an ad without ever taking the user out of the application. This means you can return to your app any time you choose, and you don’t have to actually leave it to begin with. People will be much more likely to actually click on an ad if they know they aren’t going to have to back out of what they were doing in the first place. Apple plans a 60/40 split with developers – with devs pocketing the 60% mark of any ad earnings.

The sad news of the day is that multitasking will not be coming to older models. You have to have an iPhone 3GS (or a 3rd gen iPod Touch) in order to take advantage of this awesome feature. I know that many people in our community still use older models. Word is that these older models simply don’t have the right hardware to handle the additional resources needed.

The update will be available this summer for iPhones and iPod Touch devices. However, it won’t show up for the iPad until sometime this fall. If you’re a developer, though, it is available now!

What are your thoughts on the new operating system? Are you happy with all of the changes, or did you expect something more?

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