Apple has previewed the next major upgrade to the iPhone operating system and there are plenty of new features for developers and customers. I'll get into those particulars after some quick stats on the iPhone and the success of the App Store.
- Apple has sold 17 million iPhones and 13 million iPod Touches for an installed base of 30 million running the iPhone OS.
- 800,000 free SDK downloads.
- 50,000 companies developing for the OS with 60% of them new to Apple development (!).
- 96% of apps have been approved with 800 million downloads (free & paid).
Let's take a look at the new features that will be available to iPhone owners:
- Cut, Copy & Paste! - The iPhone will finally support cut, copy & paste support. This is done by double-tapping on a block of text and adjusting the selection. A balloon will appear with options for cutting, copying, and pasting. Finally!
- MMS Support - MMS will be supported on the iPhone, but not the original iPhone. This is for the iPhone 3G only. Sorry early adopters, time to upgrade!
- Text Message Improvements - Text message forwarding. Also, multiple message forward & delete.
- Search & Spotlight - Apple will add search to key apps like Mail and Spotlight (global device search) will get its own page on the dashboard. This will search everything on the device for a string of text from one screen. This is very similar to the Palm Pre's search functionality.
- Landscape Keyboard - More key applications like Mail and SMS will support the Landscape keyboard.
- Voice Memos - You will now be able to record voice memos.
- Calender & Stock Improvements - The calendar app will add support for CalDAV and subscription based .ics calendars.
- Stereo Bluetooth A2DP - Bring on the Bluetooth headphones. Note: for iPhone 3G and 2nd Gen iPod Touch only.
Hit the break for the new features being made available to developers.
Features for developers:
- 1,000 new APIs to use.
- Push Notification System - Apple will finally enable and release their unified push notification system. This will allow applications to notify users without having to remain active. Example: You can get an IM from a friend without having to maintain an open data connection with the application open. This will help with battery life.
- In-App Purchasing - Time for micro-transactions. Apps can now offer DLC or run on subscription models. This is for paid apps only and free apps will always be free. Examples: Subscribe to 6 more weeks of sports scores, purchase 10 new levels for a game. This utilizes iTunes and will just require the account password to be entered.
- Peer-to-Peer Connectivity - Using Bluetooth, devices can be networked for multiplayer gaming (and non-gaming). This means that two devices can communicate without having to be on the same wireless network.
- Accessories with Custom Apps - Accessories that utilize the dock connection can be coded with a custom interface that appears on the device. Example: An FM transmitter shows equalizer information on the iPhone screen when connected.
- Google Maps in Apps & Turn-by-Turn - Apple will allow developers to use Google maps in their applications and will start allowing turn-by-turn GPS navigation. There's a catch... turn-by-turn apps must supply their own maps as there are licensing issues with using Google maps for this. Expect high-priced apps from Garmin and other GPS suppliers.
- New Streaming Video/Audio API - There will be new streaming video and audio options for developers to take advantage of that will auto-adjust quality based on available bandwidth. Apple will also begin to support in-game voice for games. Can anyone say Skype app inside a "game"?
The beta for the 3.0 SDK will be available today for developers, but consumers will have to wait until this summer (most likely June) to get the update. Again, it will be a $9.95 charge for the iPod Touch just like the 2.0 update.
What do you think? I'm excited about this update. I think the developer features are very powerful and should help evolve the apps even further. The consumer features are also very promising, but mostly they're playing catch up with other devices. Spotlight should be very nice and MMS will make everyone happy.
Palm better get a plan in place for developer support very quickly...