UPDATED 12:59 EDT / APRIL 08 2010

iPhone OS 4 Launched By Apple – Much Need Upgrade – Good For Users – Implications for Developers – Still No Flash

image Apple is introducing a new big revision to the iPhone called OS 4.

Apple® today previewed its iPhone® OS 4 software and released a beta version of the software to iPhone Developer Program members. 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.

New features include 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 even better data protection, mobile device management, wireless app distribution and more; Apple’s new iAd mobile advertising platform; and 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,” said Steve Jobs, Apple’s CEO. “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.”

The iPhone OS powers the iPhone, iPod Touch, and iPods.  Now it appears that OS 4 will power most all of the iPhone, iPod Touch, and iPod prodcuts with the addition of the iPad (some features won’t make it to older versions of the iPhone and iPod).  The iPad has been criticized all over the web for not having multitasking.

Apple is previewing it immediately for developers.  The biggest claim by Apple is the double tapping feature and battery life advantages (meaning it won’t drain the battery that much).

Multitasking Support – A Must Have For Any Apple App

Multitasking is a must have feature for any user to have a great experience on Apple’s mobile products.  Without multitasking the products suck.   Today Apple elivated concerns by introducing multitasking for iPhone OS 4.  The new multitasking capability 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.

These services include background audio, so apps like Pandora can play music in the background, and VoIP, so VoIP apps can receive a VoIP call even when the iPhone is asleep or the user is running other apps. iPhone OS 4 provides multitasking to third party apps while preserving battery life and foreground app performance, which has until now proved elusive on mobile devices.

Enterprise Features

Having enterprise features for Apple address the concerns that have arisen around the cloud. Mobile apps (like Apple and others) are cloud apps and security, scalability, and compatibility are must haves. Apple is adding that into OS 4.

Enterprise features in iPhone OS 4 include improvements in security, scalability and compatibility. The new Mobile Device Management service can be integrated with third party servers to wirelessly  configure, query and even wipe or lock managed iPhones, and iPhone OS 4 enables enterprises to securely host and wirelessly distribute their own in-house developed apps to employees.

Mobile As Networking Edge Play – Juniper SSL VPN Native in OS 4

Apple is highlighting not only the cloud and device requirements but also some much need software to enable the "plumbing" networking vendors to add value to the edge of the network. Just today Juniper Networks announced that they are buying Ankeena Networks to provide scalable video and edge capabilities for service providers – Apple takes advantage of that.

Access to the office or business networks need authentication and security iPhone OS 4 now provides the option to set a longer, more complex passcode, making iPhone and its data even more secure. iPhone OS 4 allows enterprise IT to set up multiple ActiveSync accounts which will include support for forthcoming SSL VPN applications from Juniper Networks.

The Big Bummer From Apple – Still No Flash

What we all wanted in OS 4 is Flash support.  We didn’t get it but I’m sure Apple will have to cave at some point.  This is an opportunity for Android.  I received an email from Dominique Jodoin, President and CEO of Bluestreak Technology, which is the 2nd largest provider of embedded Flash solutions in the world and the company’s mobile applications are being used by millions of wireless and wired subscribers today, which expressed that no flash is still a big issue.

Bluestreak CEO says:

“From multi-tasking to folders, the new functionality Apple previewed for the upcoming version of the 4.0 OS addresses many of the features loyal iPhone users have demanded since the device’s launch,” said Dominique Jodoin, President and CEO of Bluestreak Technology.

“Glaringly absent, however, is support for Flash®, a feature which, surveys indicate, consistently remains one of the top items consumers would like to have on the next generation of iPhones. Flash is used on over 85% of the top 100 websites and 75% of all web videos.

Until the iPhone supports Flash technology, like most other wireless devices do, and, specifically, many competitive Android-powered devices, it will never offer a complete data services experience to consumers.”

Apple Introduced iAd – New Advertising Platform

iAd, Apple’s new mobile advertising platform, combines the emotion of TV ads with the interactivity of web ads. iAd solves the user navigation problem when a user clicks on an ad and they are forced to leave the app then get back to the app. iAd solves this problem by delivering the ad without ever leaving the app – hello multitasking for ads.

Implications for Developers

iPhone OS 4 lets developers easily embed iAd opportunities within their apps, and the ads are dynamically and wirelessly delivered to the device. Apple will sell and serve the ads, and developers will receive an industry-standard 60 percent of iAd revenue. This is the interesting move by Apple. Apple is building a proprietary ad network only for their platform. This will force developers to make a choice and develop specifically on their platform. It’s closed.

Having a proprietary ad network causes more work for deelopers although all developers will develop on Apple because of the size. This will impact the Admob Google deal which is under review by the FCC. I’ve stated that I’m in favor of Google buying AdMob. That leaves Millennial Media the only independent big mobile ad network in the market. There is no way developers will develop on more than three platforms.

So this fragmentation of mobile ad networks creates a huge problem for Microsoft, Yahoo, Nokia, and a long list of other players with smartphone OSs and for carriers.

Gaming – YES

Much needed support for "micro games" is added. This is great news again for users and developers. The iPhone OS 4 beta release includes a developer preview of Game Center, which contains a set of APIs that allows 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.

Notable features of OS 4 – According to our friends at Engadget


Spell check (like on the iPad).

Bluetooth keyboard support (again, on the iPad).

User-defined wallpaper (a jailbreak favorite).

Tap to focus when recording video, just like with photos, and a 5x digital zoom for the camera.

Playlist creation and nested playlists.

App folders for sorting apps! You can even put an app folder in the dock.

Enhanced Mail! You can have a merged inbox view, switch between inboxes quickly, and sync to more than one Exchange account. There’s also threaded messaging (at last!) and in-app attachment viewing.

iBooks, just like on iPad, only smaller. You can wirelessly sync books between platforms, a la Kindle.

Enterprise features, including remote device management and wireless app distribution.

Game Center. It’s like Xbox Live, but for iPhone games. Includes achievements, leaderboards, and match making. It will be available as a "developer preview," and out for consumers later this year.

Developers are getting plenty of new tricks too:

1,500 new APIs.

Full access to the camera.

Date and address "data detectors."

Background audio (think Pandora).

Background VoIP (think Skype).

Background location data, both with live GPS for backgrounded turn-by-turn, and cell tower-based for lower power draw.

Local notifications. Like push notifications, but sends a notification straight from the app without needing a push notification server, perfect for an alarm, for instance.

Fast app switching. Saves the state of an app and resumes it from where you left off, without dwelling in memory.

iAd. Apple says it’s for keeping "free apps free." The ads keep you in the app, while also taking over the screen and adding interactivity — using HTML 5 for video — up to simple gaming in-ad. Apple will offer a 60 / 40 split on revenue, and users can even buy apps straight from an ad.

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