On April 8th, 2010, at its Cupertino campus in California, Apple previewed iPhone OS 4.0, the latest version of the software powering not only iPhones and iPod touches, but also the iPad. The fourth version of the iPhone software would be released to the iPhone userbase in summer, Apple said, while iPad owners would be able to apply the update, which enables multitasking and other new features, in Fall 2010.

Via an uber press release posted yesterday, Apple goes through all the major announcements made during the Town Hall keynote address delivered by Apple CEO Steve Jobs, alongside the company’s SVP of iPhone Software, Scot Forstall, and its SVP of Worldwide Product Marketing, Phil Schiller. The iPhone OS 4 software preview saw the release of a beta version of the software to registered iPhone developers. According to the Mac maker, “The iPhone OS 4 beta release includes an updated Software Development Kit (SDK) with over 1,500 new Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) and over 100 new features that will be available to iPhone and iPod touch users this summer.”

The report continues to enumerate key new features included in the new beta software, such as:

· Multitasking for third-party apps;

· Folders to better organize and access apps;

· improved Mail with a unified inbox, fast inbox switching and threaded messages;

· enhanced Enterprise support with better data protection, mobile device management, wireless app distribution and more;

· Apple’s new iAd mobile advertising platform;

· iBooks, the delightful, new ebook reader and online bookstore recently debuted on the iPad.

“iPhone OS 4 is the fourth major release of the world’s most advanced mobile operating system,” Steve Jobs, Apple’s CEO, said. “We’re delivering over 100 new features, including multitasking, folders, a unified inbox, deeper Enterprise support, and an iPhone version of our iBooks reader and online iBookstore.”

Multitasking

Delving deeper into every one of these “tent-poles,” as Steve Jobs calls them, Apple revealed that, “iPhone OS 4’s new multitasking offers users a new way to quickly move between apps, and provides developers seven new multitasking services to easily add multitasking features to their apps.” According to the company, these services include background audio and VoIP. Battery life is not impacted by the enhancement, Apple says, although the feature will only be available to new-generation devices when OS 4.0 debuts this summer.

Folders

“Folders help users better organize and quickly access their apps,” Apple explained. As simple as it sounds, users just drag one app icon onto another and a folder is automatically created containing those two apps. The user can then drag more application icons in there, expanding the contents of the folder. The power of Multi-Touch is the key ingredient allowing this new functionality to work to the advantage of the user. Apple plans to release iTunes 9.2 to include support for organizing folders.

Mail

For the newly enhanced Mail.app, the biggest feature is its new Unified Inbox, which will allow users to see messages from all their email accounts. These will be displayed together in a single inbox. As a bonus, email attachments with compatible apps from the App Store will be accessible right from the device.

iAd

The formerly rumored advertising platform emerged from Apple’s acquisition of Quattro Wireless is now confirmed. In Apple’s own words, “[It] combines the emotion of TV ads with the interactivity of web ads.” Apple explains that the necessity of a better advertising system stems from obnoxious banners that steer the users’ attention away from their current activity, often even taking them out of an app and into a faraway location on the web. iAd aims to solve this problem “by displaying full-screen video and interactive ad content without ever leaving the app, and letting users return to their app anytime they choose,” the iPhone maker stressed. Developers will be able to embed iAd opportunities within their apps, thanks to iPhone OS 4 and the new SDK. They’ll get 60% of iAd revenue, which Apple claims is an industry-standard.

Game Center

Also during yesterday’s event, Apple introduced a new service for App Store fans – Game Center. Addressing the gaming install-base of the iPhone and iPod touch, the service enables developers “to create apps with the ability to invite friends to play a game, start a multiplayer game through matchmaking and track achievements and compare high scores on a leader board.” According to Apple, “Apps created with GameKit APIs will work with Game Center, Apple’s new social gaming network available to iPhone and iPod touch users later this year.”

Enterprise

Apple’s Scott Forstall followed Steve Jobs on stage yesterday to discuss the enhanced Enterprise features in iPhone 4.0. These, according to Apple’s official report, include “improvements in security, scalability and compatibility.” More information can be found over at Apple’s website.

iBooks

For one reason or another, iBooks for iPhone and iPod touch is not detailed in the press release, although Apple has already confirmed its upcoming availability alongside the new 4.0 iPhone software. Apple does stress that its App Store has registered well over four billion downloads to date, and that some 185,000 apps are currently available for download in 90 countries around the world. Apple revealed to the press yesterday that iBooks for iPhone and iPod touch would work pretty much the same as on the iPad. It will be directly linked to the iBookstore in iTunes, where users can browse, preview and download books at will.

Finally, the report in question points out that the iPhone OS 4 beta software and SDK are available immediately for developers enrolled with Apple.

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