Apple iPhone OS 4 Offers Multitasking, iAd
Apple unveiled its next-generation iPhone OS 4 during an April 8 presentation at its Cupertino, Calif. headquarters. The iPhone OS 4, which is available in developer preview, will roll out to consumers this summer, and includes several changes to the traditional iPhone interface, including multitasking. In addition, iPhone OS 4 will include additional enterprise functionality, a hub for social gaming, and "iAd," which will allow third-party developers to embed mobile advertisements directly into their apps. With regard to multitasking, Apple CEO Steve Jobs said, "We weren't the first to this party, but we're going to be the best."Apple announced during an April 8 presentation at its Cupertino, Calif., headquarters that its next-generation iPhone OS 4 would include several radical changes to the traditional iPhone interface, including a new ability to multitask and an advertising platform, dubbed "iAd," which will allow developers to deliver mobile advertisements within apps themselves. Apple CEO Steve Jobs took the stage to announce that the iPhone OS 4 developer preview would launch on April 8, with the operating system itself due to arrive on Apple mobile devices at an as-yet-unannounced point this summer. The iPhone OS 4 SDK (software development kit) will include automated testing, in-app SMS, photo library access, and full access to still and video camera data-for a total of around 1,500 new APIs.
Jobs also stated that some 50 million iPhones have been sold so far, with more than 4 billion apps downloaded to date. From there, he moved on to discussing some of the user features of the new operating system, including tap-to-focus for video, 5x digital zoom for the camera module, sync IMAP notes, Bluetooth keyboard support, the ability to gift apps, and changeable home screen wallpaper. But many of those seemed minor compared to Jobs' next announcement, that iPhone OS 4 would support multitasking.
Apple's announcement comes a few days after the April 3 release of the iPad, which reportedly sold 300,000 units to customers and channel partner Best Buy by midnight on that date. In an April 5 statement, the company suggested that more than 1 million apps for the iPad had already been downloaded, along with 250,000 ebooks. Developers have been encouraged to build applications for the iPad with the iPhone OS 3.2 SDK, which includes an iPhone Reference Library, Sample Code, iPad Programming Guide and Human Interface Guidelines. Gold sees Apple's new multitasking initiative as possibly a mixed bag for some users. "Apple seems to have added multitasking--but only partially," Gold wrote in his April 8 note. "You can't write your own multi-tasking capabilities into a program. So there are limits to multitasking available. This may be an issue for companies that do a lot of background processing, like say, running a database or reporting on a device in the background."
Between the iPad's release and this new announcement of the iPhone OS 4, it seems that Apple is trying to make good on COO Tim Cook's February statement that it is first and foremost "a mobile-device company." Editor's Note: This story has been updated with commentary by an analyst.