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News: iPhone OS 4 Previewed

by on April 8, 2010

Earlier today, Steve Jobs demonstrated iPhone OS 4 to an eager crowd. Obviously this presentation was geared towards developers, but many end-users are already seeing the potential of new capabilities—and frustrations of lack of features—as bigger step than just the iPad.

Among the main features Apple has promised in iPhone OS 4, multitasking is the most expected and anticipated. Unfortunately, despite what many Jailbreakers would argue otherwise, Apple thinks the iPhone 3G and iPod touch 2G are too slow for this capability, so only the iPhone 3GS, iPad, and iPod touch 3G users will enjoy this. There are different levels of multitasking, from completely running apps in the background to pausing apps to simple notifications.

Apps can now be grouped in folders in a way that works kind of like Stacks on OS X, although the shrunken groups look a bit like the Calculator icon (maybe that’s why the Calculator got a new icon?). Other OS enhancements include the ability to have wallpaper (like the iPad), a unified inbox, and multiple Exchange accounts. Some of these may seem like catch-up compared to other smartphone operating systems, but they are welcome improvements.

Apple also unveiled its iAd platform, allowing developers access to ads, possibly to alleviate issues of no Flash advertising. Game Center is a new social gaming network from Apple to allow developers to simplify multiplayer games and comparing scores and other similar features.

Not surprising, Apple also released iBooks for the iPhone and iPod touch—to make more money, of course—and made strong improvements that will appeal to business users. Some of these include better data protection, Mobile Device Management, wireless app distribution, support for Exchange Server 2010, and support for SSL VPN.

Some other updates that were not mentioned directly include Bluetooth keyboard support (which the iPad already has), 5x digital zoom, and 1500 new APIs for developers.

iPhones (3G and 3GS) and iPod touch (2G and 3G) users will receive the new OS this summer, while iPad users will receive it in the fall.

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