Thursday, April 8, 2010
6 Features: OS 4 For iPhone, iPad
Unlike the current one, the next version of Apple's OS will allow far more apps to perform functions in the background. Apple CEO Steve Jobs promises that this feature has been implemented in such a way that it won't have a negative effect on the performance of the app running in the foreground, nor on the device's battery life.
OS 4.0 will do this by giving apps a limited collection of features they can perform when they aren't the foreground app. Streaming audio services like Pandora, or VoIP ones like Skype to function in the background. Software will also be able to finish tasks this way, like uploading pictures or video to Facebook. Aside from these, most of the functions will stop.
Obviously, apps will have to be written to support Apple's background APIs. The ones that don't make use of these will completely close when the user switches away from them.
Users will be able to switch between apps that are running by double-clicking the Home button to bring up a screen showing icons for currently running applications. Tapping on one of them will bring it to the fore.
Another new feature in iPhone OS 4.0 is going to be folders in the application launcher.
As it stands now, those who want to organize the software on their smartphone, handheld, or tablet have to create different screens to put it on, and then move past these screens to get to the one they want.
The next version of this OS is going to allow users to create folders where users can put their apps. Icons can be moved in and out of folders in the same way that icons are moved around now in the iPhone user interface: tap and hold, then drag and drop.
Folders will show small versions of the icons for the apps that are stored in them. And folders can be put in the dock.
An Improved Inbox
The next version of this operating system will have a unified inbox where messages from a variety of services will go: Microsoft Exchange, MobileMe, Yahoo, etc. User will be able to quickly switch between messages from different sources.
iPhone OS 4.0 will free users from a limitation in the current version: it will support more than one Exchange account. It is also going to be able to work with Exchange Server 2010.
In addition, the inbox will be able to thread messages together, and open attachments using third-party software.
Gaming on the iPhone and iPod touch has become a major phenomenon. To help foster this, Apple has created a social network for mobile gamers.
This will allow users to share their achievements with their friends, and is also going to include leaderboards and matchmaking.
iBooks for Everyone
Not surprisingly, Apple is bringing its new iBooks app to all its mobile devices. This ebook reader and store debuted over the weekend on the iPad, but will be included in the versions of iPhone OS 4.0 for the iPhone and iPod touch.
Users will be able to synchronize their book collections across devices.
Apple also unveiled its iAd service, which will allow developers to embed advertising into their software.
Currently, when users click on a mobile ad, they are taken to a company's website. Using iAd, the advertisements will act like miniature apps that run on the mobile device.