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Third-party multitasking finally makes an appearance on the iPhone

It's been just over a year since Apple last held an event touting the latest and greatest version of its iPhone OS. In March 2009, the big features that Apple brought to the table with iPhone OS 3.0 included copy/paste, push notifications, and push notifications (to make up for the lack of third-party multitasking).

Today, Apple is back at it again with iPhone OS 4.0. As has been widely speculated for the quite some time now, Apple is finally enabling third-party multitasking on the iPhone OS (iPhone, iPod touch, iPad). As the rumors suggested, double tapping the home button now brings up a “multitasking dock” which shows up to four programs running at once (here's a video of multitasking in action). The user then selects the application they want and "boom", you're there. As you would expect, the current application state is saved as you're double tapping in and out of apps.

For a demo, Apple's Scott Forstall showed off an app that has probably been the poster child for the multitasking movement on the iPhone: Pandora. Previously, if you wanted to listen to streaming music in Pandora while performing another task, it wasn't possible (without jailbreaking). The new multitasking APIs of iPhone OS 4.0 now make what seems like a no-brainer feature possible. As an added bonus, Pandora can now be controlled from the lock screen.

Multitasking also now integrates with background audio and VoIP. As a result, users can now receive Skype calls without running the program in the foreground and "exiting" the program will still allow you to receive calls. A locked iPhone can also receive Skype calls.

IPhone OS 4.0 will bring 100 new features for the end-user along with 1,500 new APIs for developers. Some of the more mundane features include iBooks, in-app SMS, home screen wallpapers (as seen on the iPad), Bluetooth keyboard support (another iPad donation), and “tap to focus” for video.

Another feature that has been asked for is a Folder feature for iPhone OS 4.0. This allows you to group similarly-themed apps together instead of having to sprawl across pages and pages of apps. You can name the folders whatever you want, and place them anywhere including on the dock. 

Moving on, another rumor that has been confirmed is a universal inbox for the Mail app. Mail from multiple accounts (Gmail, Yahoo!, Exchange, etc.) can now be viewed in a single unified inbox. Other new features of the Mail app include multiple Exchange accounts, fast inbox switching, threaded messages, and the ability to open attachments with their respective apps. 

Apple is also looking to court more business users with better data protection, mobile device management, Exchange Server 2010 support, and SSL VPN support.

For the gamers out there, Apple is really trying to bring gaming and social networking together. The new social gaming network, Game Center, is taking a page from Microsoft's book (re: Xbox 360) with friend invites, matchmaking, achievements, and leaderboards.

In another move that's new for Apple, the company is introducing iAd which allows developers to quickly and efficiently delivers ads to users through apps. Apple will host and sells the ads -- it will also take a 40 percent cut of the revenue in return. The ads are completely interactive and use HTML5 -- Apple is really pushing for the industry to move past Adobe Flash. Apple's purchase of Quattro Wireless now makes sense.

IPhone and iPod touch users will get the update this Summer, however, there are a few caveats. IPhone 3GS and 3G iPod touch users will get the full update. IPhone 3G owners and 2G iPod touch users will get a reduced feature set (no multitasking) due to lower hardware specifications. First generation iPhone and iPod touch users are just SOL. IPad users will have to wait until the Fall for the update.

Other items of note today include that fact that has sold an additional 150,000 iPads since launch day bringing the total number sold to 450,000. In addition, 600,000 iBooks have been downloaded and over 3.5 million iPad apps (3,500 iPad-specific apps are currently available in the iTunes App Store) have been downloaded since launch day.

Steve Jobs likes to talk numbers, and he continued adding that 50 million iPhones have been sold to date, while 35 million iPod touches have been sold.

With iPhone OS 4.0, Apple is looking to maintain its lead over Microsoft, Google, and Palm in the smartphone OS arena, while at the same time nip at the heels of RIM. Considering that Microsoft chose to go with Apple's "old" approach to copy/paste and push notifications (instead of true multitasking) with Windows Phone 7, it should be interesting to see what Microsoft's response will be now that Apple has charted a new course.

With iPhone OS 4.0, Android, and webOS now supporting these two basic features that a lot of mobile users today simply take for granted, Microsoft might have to rethink its strategy going forward.



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RE: You missed a great Jobs quote
By Abrahmm on 4/8/2010 10:04:38 PM , Rating: 2
That had such little relevance and made such little sense I don't even know how to respond.


RE: You missed a great Jobs quote
By hiscross on 4/9/2010 10:07:03 AM , Rating: 2
Let me make this real simple for you, BSD is better than Linux and especially Andriod OS. Apple was able to take a server OS and put it on a mobile device, add enhancements like coverflow, and get thousands of really creative and very smart developers to develop for Apple devices. In another 2 years, developing for mobile devices has become more and more profitable. RIM and WinMobile for example had the platforms to lead this, but had no vision. I do give Google some credit, since once they knew Apple was going to build a phone they started to look for a platform tp compete. However, Google is old school when it comes to customer care. They allowed cheap devices to run Andriod and then found out, like Microsoft did with DOS, PC vendors don't have standards. How many versions of Andriod are running around? 5 at least. Apple did none of that. They released one device at a time, provided the infrastructure and support. I look at Google lack of success with NexusOne. It is unlocked, does flash and mulittasking and has a App store. Sales only tells part of the story, the real story willbe on successful will be the apps for devices. Today, Apple leads the way.


RE: You missed a great Jobs quote
By xmichaelx on 4/9/2010 4:00:20 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Today, Apple leads the way.

You mean, now that they're just a few months away from adding features that Android has had for 6+ months?


By darkblade33 on 4/9/2010 7:12:28 PM , Rating: 2
While its tempting to think that way.. that yes.. some of the features are long overdue.. None of what we think matters in the business sense.

They have now 175,000 apps for a reason and they sell more apps then anyone which is all that matters in the money world. Money quickly breaks up long lasting loyalties as well. The ipad alone has increased Apples 'Apps' being downloaded by another 30,000 per day.. Some deveoplers who dont care for Apple are making millions off of Apple.. this is all that matters in the end.


"There is a single light of science, and to brighten it anywhere is to brighten it everywhere." -- Isaac Asimov

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