CUPERTINO, Calif.-Apple' iPhone 4.0 OS that the company introduced to analysts, developers and reporters on April 8 will have an assortment of features designed to appeal to corporate users, besides the long-desired multitasking capability.
Apple CEO Steve Jobs, accompanied by the company's senior vice president for iPhone software, Scott Forstall, and senior vice president for worldwide product marketing, Phil Schiller, pulled the wraps off the next version of Apple's operating system for mobile devices today at an invitation-only event on the company's campus here. Apple expects to release the OS update for iPhones this summer, followed by general availability for the iPad in the fall.
Multitasking has been at the front of the queue for Apple mobile devices, and this most anticipated feature of the refreshed mobile OS will be available for users with the company's iPhone 3GS and the third-generation iterations of the iPod Touch.
The earlier iPhone 3G and second-generation iPad Touch will be able to run the new OS, but according to Jobs, the hardware on the older devices simply isn't capable of supporting the OS' multitasking capabilities.
The OS update will also allow users to organize their mobile applications into folders, the names of which will default to the applications' App Store category name; users are free to rename these folders and to manage them on their connected computers using iTunes 9.2. Jobs noted that this will allow users to display more than 2,000 applications on their iPhones, which currently has a practical limit of 180 displayed applications.
A unified inbox for mail will also be featured in iPhone OS 4.0, enabling users to track e-mail conversation threads or sort e-mails by their source account. The company is adding support for Microsoft's Exchange Server 2010 with the update, and will allow the use of multiple Exchange accounts.
But there are additional features in this version of the iPhone OS that will be valuable to the company's enterprise customers. First of all, the OS update will include new security features that allow the use of longer and more complex device passcodes; the new iPhone OS will use that passcode as an encryption key for mail messages and attachments that are stored on a device.
Wireless distribution of in-house and proprietary applications will be possible with this release. Meanwhile, a device management system is to be introduced that will allow the use of third-party servers to configure and query iPhones over a wireless connection, or if desired, to lock or wipe a managed device that's strayed from its intended user.
Apple's announcement included the unveiling of iAd, the company's advertising platform for mobile devices. Developers will receive 60 percent of the revenue from advertisements that appear with their applications, while Apple will provide space sales and ad hosting. Ads from the iAd service will be capable of full-screen video and interactive ad content, with the caveat that HTML 5 is the only supported format.
The advantage to this scheme over conventional mobile advertising deployments, Jobs explained, is that currently, advertising takes users out of an app and into a Web browser. Instead, iAd takes advantage of the multitasking features of iPhone OS 4.0, displaying content without closing down the source application, and allowing users to return to their place in the source application without missing a beat.
As part of the April 8 announcement, Apple released a beta version of iPhone OS 4.0 and its associated SDK; the beta software and SDK are available at Apple's developer support site for registered members of the company's iPhone Developer Program.