Today, Apple [AAPL] announced iPhone OS 4 and along with that, the ability it brings to the iPhone 3GS to multitask. Note that we say iPhone 3GS as the older iPhone 3G and below will not support multitasking. Also OS 4 will work on the 3rd gen iPod Touch (ie, late 2009 models).
Another interesting step for Apple here is that they are delaying iPhone OS 4 for iPad owners till fall rather than when the rest of the Apple products will get it in the summer. We are not sure the reasons for this but if we find out, we'll provide an update.
Before we mention all the new features of iPhone OS 4, we thought we'd also mention that 450,000 Apple iPads have shipped since it's launch last week. That's quite a success.
Back to iPhone OS 4. Seven new features have been announced today by Apple. The first, which we have already mentioned up above is multitasking. Steve Jobs said in the keynote speech today that they figured out a way to implement multitasking without causing drain on the battery life or resources. To get multitasking working in iPhone OS 4 you simply tap the home button twice where a screen pops open to show you the current running applications. The icons are shown in a dock view where you can scroll through them to find the app you want.
Along with multitasking, 1500 new API's have been added to the new OS allowing users to make more calls to system functions. Programs such as Pandora will be able to run in the background. The team behind Pandora managed to get this functionality working with a day's worth of work which isn't bad at all.
Next up is the ability to create folders on the home pages. By creating folders you can then drag all related app icons in to the particular folder grouping games together for example. With the folder system implemented in this version of the OS the number of applications able to be held on the device jumps from the current 180 up to 2000 which is quite impressive.
Enhanced Mail brings several new features to the email system of the iPhone. If you have several mailboxes set up on your iPhone you will now have the ability to view them in a single inbox. Also the restriction of having just one Exchange account has been lifted allowing other accounts to be added. Other features for email includes the ability to sort mail by thread rather than date. These new features for mail make it a tempting device to use for business.
iBooks was also announced as coming to the iPhone. Right now that particular application is only available for the iPad, but when OS 4 is released you'll also be able to read the same books on the iPhone. Modifications made on one device will automatically be synced over to the other device keeping book marks up todate.
Apple have also included Game Center in iPhone OS 4. Game Center can be described as being central hub for just games. Currently there are over 50,000 games for the iPhone and the games center puts them all in one place along with the ability to network with other gamers to compare scores.
iAd was also announced in answer to Steve Jobs thinking that the current ad systems we see on mobile devices as being rubbish. iAd aims to tackle that to make better ads (and a bit of loose change for Apple) in the process. When developers add the ads to their applications they (the developers) will get a 60% share of revenue.
Zath describes the ads as being like an app inside an app where when they ads are clicked on an interactive user experience is loaded up. Features that could be included are in ad games or backgrounds that can be downloaded for example.
iPhone OS 4 is being launched in the summer for iPhone and iPod Touch users. iPad users will need to wait till Autumn this hear.
It's quite a nice set of features for the iPhone, some of which are long over due. We'll post more details as we get them.