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iPhone OS 4.0 - new features plus another kick in the pants for Adobe

By

April 12, 2010

The new iPhone OS has more than 100 new features, but it's not good news for everyone.

The new iPhone OS has more than 100 new features, but it's not good news for everyone.

Apple yesterday released information about the upcoming revision to its iPhone operating system - iPhone OS 4.0, which is due for release in June. It offers major enhancements like multitasking, the iBooks eBook reader app, a centralized gaming service, performance and battery life improvements. But while the new software will be a boon for iPhone 3GS and iPad owners, as well as buyers of the next-gen iPhone HD expected to debut sometime this year, it seems that iPhone 2G, 3G and older iPod Touch owners might be left behind on the upgrade trail. Oh - and the new developer kit contains another nasty surprise for Adobe.

Apple previewed its iPhone OS 4.0 yesterday and released a beta developer's version. Some of the key enhancements you can expect when iPhone OS 4.0 lands in June include:

Multitasking

The fact that previous iPhone OS versions haven't allowed multitasking beyond alarm and music-playing abilities has long been a source of frustration for many users. iPhone OS 4.0 addresses this with a limited expansion of the platform's multitasking engine.

True multitasking is limited to audio streaming, VoIP and GPS apps - you simply double-click the home button for the list of running applications and switch between them. There's a limited ability for apps to complete important tasks in the background while others are running, and applications can send important notifications that pop up in other apps when they require attention.

Even though true multitasking is limited to a handful of applications, all other applications can be frozen, so you can shut them down and then open them up exactly where you left them, which is a reasonable way of getting around the problem.

Mail application overhauled

Those of us with multiple in-boxes will be happy to learn that iPhone OS 4.0's new Mail app allows the option of viewing all messages together in a unified in-box, so you don't have to constantly jump in and out of mail accounts.

Messages can also be shown in a threaded format, which Gmail users will appreciate, and there's a new fast in-box switching feature and the ability to handle multiple MS Exchange accounts.

iBooks

The new Apple eBook reader has come to the iPhone platform as well as the iPad.

Game Center

Apple is putting together a central multiplayer gaming service along the lines of Xbox Live. It will allow you to invite friends to play a game, keep centralized leaderboards for high scores, and track in-game achievements.

iAd

Advertising-supported apps will benefit from the Apple iAd platform, which allows interactive video and interactive advertising content to be shown within applications. Developers can put advertising space into their apps, and Apple will sell and serve ad content into the spaces. Good news for developers, but better news for Apple, who will take 40 percent of all advertising revenues.

Other enhancements

Other baubles and trinkets thrown in with iPhone OS 4.0 will include the ability to put applications into folders on your home screens, custom backgrounds, Bluetooth keyboard support, spell checking, tap to focus video, the ability to search SMS and MMS messages, CalDAV invitations, and some improvements in the security, scalability and compatibility areas.

And now the bad news ...

Not all OS 4.0 compatibility is coming to all handsets. Multitasking, for instance, will only run if you've got a 3GS iPhone or 3rd generation iPod touch. So it seems handsets that are only a couple of years old are starting to get dropped off the list.

Worse news for Adobe and Google

Apple's dislike for Adobe's Flash platform has long been known and understood. With Flash completely unsupported by the iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad's Web browsers, Adobe spent significant development time building a Flash to iPhone app converter into its upcoming Creative Suite 5 software bundle.

This converter would allow developers to write software in Flash and effectively export an iPhone app ready for the app store.

But part of the new App Store terms and conditions, released concurrently with OS 4.0, expressly forbids the use of "an intermediary translation or compatibility layer or tool," requiring that all apps must be originally created in native code. This, of course, instantly renders Adobe's new converter (and a number of similar converters) useless, and those with a stake in Adobe's new toolset are up in arms.

The new terms and conditions are a hardline move from Apple, a glimpse into the company's ruthless competitive streak and a clear statement that Apple expects to maintain absolute control over the iPhone app development cycle. And with the App Store still far and away the most popular of all mobile application markets, the company is still in a position to call the shots.

Furthermore, for those who have been following Apple's slowly brewing rift with its former partner Google, they might notice that the "Google" button seems to have been replaced by a more generic "Search" in the new OS - flagging that Apple might make a move to switch default search engines in the iPhone browser.

iPhone OS 4.0 will be released "this summer" for iPhones, and sometime in fall for the iPad. Learn more at the official Apple iPhone OS 4.0 preview site.

About the Author
Loz Blain Loz has been one of Gizmag's most versatile contributors since 2007. Joining the team as a motorcycle specialist, he has since covered everything from medical and military technology to aeronautics, music gear and historical artefacts. Since 2010 he's branched out into photography, video and audio production, and he remains the only Gizmag contributor willing to put his name to a sex toy review. A singer by night, he's often on the road with his a cappella band Suade.   All articles by Loz Blain
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5 Comments

Add to this Apples lawsuit against HTC and by proxy Google and it OS, Android. What many think of as a cool company may soon be a lot less popular.

While discussing Apple with colleagues, the consensus seem to be that they are just looking more and more greedy.

But I don't think that people among the general public will move away from Apple until a competitor (like Android) will reach enough popularity. But momentum has changed before.

Roomie
12th April, 2010 @ 07:12 am PDT

Why isn't Apple considered as "deviant" as MicroSoft with regard to enforcing a monopoly?

In the words of U.S. District Court Judge Thomas Penfield Jackson (Re:MicroSoft) :-

"Microsoft possesses a dominant, persistent and increasing share of the worldwide market for Intel-compatible PC operating systems."

The starting point for applying this monopoly power is computer manufacturers. If PC makers don't have a Windows license, they have nothing to sell, because nobody will buy a Compaq, Dell or Gateway computer without Windows. The judge found that Microsoft uses this dependency to keep the PC industry from embracing technologies that compete with its core products.

Beyond computer makers, the judge also took Microsoft to task for "its conduct toward Netscape, IBM, Intel, Compaq and others," demonstrating "that it will use its prodigious market power and immense profits to harm any firm that insists on pursuing initiatives that could intensify competition against one of Microsoft's core products."

Again, why isn't Apple considered to be enforcing a monopoly?

JRR (Not Tolkein)

julian.rankin
12th April, 2010 @ 08:34 pm PDT

Android phones are on track to outsell the iPhone. Except for those who worship at the iTemple of Apple, people want things like Flash and PDFs on their phones. They want to be able to change phones simply by moving their SIM card.

PC netbooks dramatically outsell the MacBook Air because they have more than one USB port, SD card readers and Ethernet ports, plus other ports for peripherals the Air cannot use. The Air is barely selling enough to keep it in production, even though Apple has released a second version of the overpriced thing with little fanfare.

The MacBook Air revived the subnotebook category that had waxed and waned several times before. One likely key is calling them netbooks rather than palmtops or subnotebooks.

As for the iPad, it's already sold more than many previous tablet computers, but that's just the initial rush of the Apple worshipers. The rest of us see it as a gadget that nothing can be connected to.* Competitors with higher resolution screens and plenty of ports will be out soon and the iPad will become a minor player, even if it sells more than many individual competing models.

*Wireless. Yeah, what fun, when every peripheral will require its own batteries and charger. Its much more convenient to be able to plug in an SD card or USB drive to move files.

Facebook User
13th April, 2010 @ 12:18 pm PDT

Wow, what a load of disinformation from Facebook User. If people want Flash, Android is not the place to get it. Flash 10 will not run on the Nexus One or the Droid, both of which are too underpowered. Who says the iPhone OS can't display PDFs? It's been doing that since the iPhone was introduced. If you need a better PDF reader than the built-in one, there are a wealth of options in the iTunes App Store, including the very highly regarded GoodReader, which goes for the outrageously high price of $1 (!) and can also display Word, Powerpoint, Excel, HTML and webarchive files. Netbooks outsold the MacBook Air because they're dirt cheap. But netbook sales appear to be leveling off despite their bargain basement prices. Just ask Intel, which credits the decline of netbooks with their cheap Atom processors inside and the resurgence of their faster, more expensive notebook CPUs for their excellent financial results this last quarter. Nothing can be connected to it? You can't transfer files? Wrong again. iTunes provides direct USB file transfer from your Mac or PC. And if you desperately need an SD card reader for photos, the digital camera connection kit can give it to you.

As for the competitors, it's amazing how User seems to have swallowed the Kool Aid. Reviews of the JooJoo have been scathing, and its sales have been too low to even be called pathetic. The HP Slate may show up soon, but tech journalists say it faces an uphill battle with its short battery life, slow processor and the extreme difficulty (some say impossibility) of making a desktop OS work well with a small touchscreen.

Gadgeteer
14th April, 2010 @ 06:43 pm PDT

@Spirit of 76... where do you get your information??

Flash IS coming to Android devices: http://bit.ly/bmjI6L ; http://bit.ly/chitwA ; http://bit.ly/ckawfV I could go on, but I think you get the picture.

As for your claim that the Nexus One is underpowered, compare the technical specs of the Nexus One to iPhone 3Gs (http://bit.ly/b3flC4)... and that's just the Nexus One... the beauty of the Android platform which iPhone users seem to miss, is that being device independent, the user can chose the handset whose power and capabilities best matches their needs (and their wallets)... The Android phones coming down the pipeline eclipse the Nexus One in raw processing power, and yet the nexus one eclipses the iPhone 3Gs in raw processing power... so you do the math.

I don't even want to get into monstrosity that is the iPad - although I'm sure you and I could have a spirited debate on this :-)

Facebook User
15th April, 2010 @ 09:51 am PDT
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