iPhone OS 4 Announced: Apps, Advancements, and Advertising.

Well, Apple held its iPhone OS 4 event today. When you think about it, this makes sense for two reasons: First, there’s a new device running iPhone OS, which usually means a new version is on its way to better leverage that technology. Second, iPhone OS 3.0 was released in June last year, so a 2-3 month lead time for the excitement to build seems about right.

Unsurprisingly, Apple CEO Steve Jobs opened today’s presentation, talking about the iPad (including, in my personal opinion, a somewhat pandering picture of a little girl opening a new iPad and hugging it like a kitten.) Apparently, in the short time it’s been available, the iPad has proven to be somewhat popular

But that’s not why they held the event. Well… it’s not the only reason they held the event. Today, we got the first look at  iPhone OS 4.

So what does iPhone OS 4 mean for us?

Apple claims there’s over 100 new user features, including playlist creation, spell check, and even the use of bluetooth keyboards. However, Steve and company decided to focus on what they called their “Tentpole” features.

  1. Multitasking.
    This is the thing users have been crying out for since the iPhone was introduced. Finally, Apple found a way to properly work on multiple things at once, apparently without major performance loss. Unfortunately, this is one of those features that not everybody gets to enjoy (see below).
  2. Folders
    Just like it’s desktop counterpart, folders offers a way to condense the eight different versions of Bejeweled that we’ve downloaded into one single icon. This is a lifesaver for those of us who have downloaded way too many applications that we’ll rarely use, who now have to scroll through five pages to find the app they’re looking for. No word on whether nested folders are a possibility, though.
  3. Improvements to Mail
    Personally, I don’t use the Mail app; that’s why I have a Macbook Pro. But, I understand that many people use their iPhones for keeping up with work at the office and such. People who use multiple accounts, will probably like the new “unified” inbox, where all your messages in all your accounts can be scrolled through at once. Those who have long dialogues via email may dig the “view by thread” option.
  4. iBooks
    It seems that literature is no longer just for those fortunate enough to have an iPad (and those who have found other options). Following the plight of Edward and Bella has never been more convenient.
  5. Enterprise Features
    As I have never been in IT, nor have I ever used an iPhone in an Enterprise environment, this section kind of sounded like Charlie Brown’s teacher to me. However, those of you who are concerned with this sort of thing will be happy to know, Apple has a dedicated page for these features.
  6. Game Center
    This is Apple’s foray into “social gaming.” For those of you who are really into playing games on your iPhone, now you can invite friends to play with you, compare your scores on national leaderboards, and the like. It’s kind of like XBox Live for your iPhone.
  7. iAd
    This feature makes it easy for developers to put interactive advertising in their applications. For developers, it’s a great new revenue stream. For advertisers, it’s a large base of users to communicate with. For end users… it’s a bunch of banner ads we’ll all wind up ignoring.

Availablility and applicability

We should be seeing iPhone OS 4 for the iPhone/iPod Touch sometime over the summer, with the iPad version coasting in a few months later, probably just in time for the new school year.

According to Apple, iPhone OS 4 will work with the iPhone 3G, iPhone 3GS, iPod Touch (2nd Gen.) and iPod Touch (3rd Gen.). Unfortunately, the iPhone 3G and the 2nd generation Touch can’t take advantage of the multitasking functions; that’s only for those of us with the new hotness.

As more trickles out about the other features in the new iPhone OS, we’ll be sure to let you know.


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