iPhone's new operating system details were released in a press event at Apple's headquarters today. The OS 4, will be released to developers this week and to users in the summer. It will provide access to calendar, photo library, still image and video data, and includes abilities to help apps run faster. In addition the new OS will support multitasking of apps. It will be interesting to see when the continual upgrades stall out and when a new iPhone hardware device is planned to be offered.
"We weren't the first to this party but we're going to be the best, just like cut and paste," said Apple CEO Steve Jobs, alluding that cut-and-paste hadn't been available until a year after the first iPhone launched.
Jobs went on to say, "It's really easy to implement multitasking in a way that drains battery life. If you don't do it just right your phone's going to feel sluggish and your battery life is going to go way down. We've figured out how to implement multitasking of third-party apps and avoid those things."
The new iPhone OS will allow users to press the home button twice to see a menu of active apps. Tapping one app takes you directly into that app. Apps can remain running in the background. Some of the benefits to this are, for example, that you can keep listening to music in Pandora while doing other things on the phone. The multitasking enables push notifications to alert users to an incoming Skype call. "It was really simple to implement. Just a dozen lines of code," said Skype's head of product development David Ponsford.
Another example of the new OS capabilities are letting you know when an app running in the background has requested your location from the device's GPS. This to address privacy and security issues.
The announcement comes a week after Apple's launch of iPad. Apple has sold 450,000 iPads to date, and users have downloaded more than 1 million iPad applications and over 650,000 digital books from the iBooks store. The company has sold more than 50 million iPhones and 35 million iPod Touches.
TheiPhone, iPod Touch, and iPad all run iPhone OS 3.0. The current OS has been criticized for lacking multitasking support for full multitasking. The OS also restricts add-on software to apps available through Apple's App Store.
The App Store currently contains 185,000 apps, Jobs said, adding than users have downloaded more than 4 billion apps from it to date. About 3,500 of those apps are optimized for the iPad.
Additional features planned for iPhone OS 4 include a 5x digital zoom camera feature, and tap to focus in video.