What will OS 4.0 bring to the iPhone? First and foremost: multitasking. Apple has finally found the last piece of this puzzle, and their dev team figured out how to let iPod and related devices run more than one app at once, all without killing the battery. A double-click on the Home button will bring up a screen of currently-running apps, and a second click will focus on the target app instantly. Early reports say this new multitasking support is surprisingly efficient – though beware, users will be limited to running 4 apps at once.
Other new features include a few enhancements to the user interface. Users will be able to arrange apps inside folders, change the background behind the icons, and store up to 2,000 icons instead of the current 180.
This class of iPhone users stands to benefit the most. The new Multitasking will more than quadruple the power of the iPhone, and will reduce the amount of time it takes to complete every-day tasks. Increased security measures, like the ability to encrypt emails, and PIN codes, will certainly benefit enterprises. The new “unified inbox” system in the mail app will also benefit business users, letting them manage multiple email accounts simultaneously.
Again, the new multitasking support means a big change in how the iPhone operates. Casual users can now stream internet music through Safari while reading an iBook, for example. The ability to customize the iPhone’s interface even further by changing the background will make the device even more personal. A host of other new features, from the ability to rotate photos to a new 5x zoom on the camera, will all come together to make OS 4.0 a big step-up for casual users.
This class of user stands to benefit the least from the upcoming iPhone OS 4.0. Apple is excited about the new Social Gaming Network, but time will tell how this system will pan out. Flash is still not supported, so it means that a lot of the best online games are still not going to work. Fortunately, many game providers are offering alternatives – online games designed specifically for the iPhone. Many mobile casinos, for example, offer real-money casino games like slots and poker that will run inside Safari, letting gamers take things to the next level by putting a few dollars down on their skills.
3G and the second generation iPod touch owners
Sorry, because of your outdated hardware, you won’t be able to take full advantage of some of the new features that OS 4.0 will bring. Most notably, your device will not support the new multitasking feature, so you will still only be able to run one program at a time.
Original iPhone and iPod touch owners
No luck here. The first-gen devices simply won’t support OS 4.0. Owners of these devices should really consider an upgrade.
What about iAd?
One new “feature” that will be introduced with OS 4.0 is not going to be as welcome as the others: iAd. This new mobile advertising system will introduce in-app advertising. The system will allow full-screen video and even interactive advertising content to be launched from within an application, without the need to send the user out to Safari to offer this sort of content. In a way the new system will be less intrusive than before, but at the same time it might just open the iPhone up to even more spam.
Overall, previews and hands-on reviews of the new OS 4.0 are very positive. Most users stand to benefit on at least some level from the upgrade, and all users are encouraged to take the plunge. The only people who are left in the dark are owners of older devices – and of course those poor souls who don’t yet have an iPhone of their own!