iPhone OS 4 Adds Multitasking

The iPhone OS 4 event held this morning had some fantastic news for iPhone owners (which includes me), with a host of great new features including the big one: true multitasking. Apps running in the background will be able to use system calls to provide multitasking services, avoiding the performance issues that have been the hang-up so far.

Engadget lists the new features:

Notable new features for users (“tentpoles” are in bold):

  • Multitasking.
  • Spell check (like on the iPad).
  • Bluetooth keyboard support (again, on the iPad).
  • User-defined wallpaper (a jailbreak favorite).
  • Tap to focus when recording video, just like with photos, and a 5x digital zoom for the camera.
  • Playlist creation and nested playlists.
  • App folders for sorting apps! You can even put an app folder in the dock.
  • Enhanced Mail! You can have a merged inbox view, switch between inboxes quickly, and sync to more than one Exchange account. There’s also threaded messaging (at last!) and in-app attachment viewing.
  • iBooks, just like on iPad, only smaller. You can wirelessly sync books between platforms, a la Kindle.
  • Enterprise features, including remote device management and wireless app distribution.
  • Game Center. It’s like Xbox Live, but for iPhone games. Includes achievements, leaderboards, and match making. It will be available as a “developer preview,” and out for consumers later this year.

Developers are getting plenty of new tricks too:

  • Full access to the camera.
  • Date and address “data detectors.”
  • Background audio (think Pandora).
  • Background VoIP (think Skype).
  • Background location data, both with live GPS for backgrounded turn-by-turn, and cell tower-based for lower power draw.
  • Local notifications. Like push notifications, but sends a notification straight from the app without needing a push notification server, perfect for an alarm, for instance.
  • Fast app switching. Saves the state of an app and resumes it from where you left off, without dwelling in memory.
  • iAd. Apple says it’s for keeping “free apps free.” The ads keep you in the app, while also taking over the screen and adding interactivity — using HTML 5 for video — up to simple gaming in-ad. Apple will offer a 60 / 40 split on revenue, and users can even buy apps straight from an ad.

Apple says the new OS will ship this summer.

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Last updated: 2021-06-05 2:51 pm PDT
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