Multitasking finally a reality, plus over 100 new features in iPhone OS 4

Iphoneos4_bp Today was an exciting one for iPhone users on the software front, as Apple outdid themselves once again with the introduction of iPhone OS 4, scheduled for availability this summer. We can only wonder at the moment if this date was chosen to coincide with the release of the next-gen iPhone, but all signs seem to point that way. In the meantime, here's a quick overview of what we can expect as the best mobile OS on the planet gets even better.

While multitasking is the most eagerly-awaited feature, it's only the first of seven "tentpoles" that Apple has developed, which also includes app folders, enhanced mail with a unified inbox, iBooks, interactive in-app ads with iAd, enhanced enterprise features, and Game Center. The ability to organize common apps into folders is long overdue and will help with app clutter, plus allow for more icons without the current page restriction. A few other additions are a 5x digital zoom for the camera and Bluetooth keyboard support. Some of the new features, such as multitasking, will only be compatible with the iPhone 3GS and the third-gen iPod touch.

All of those are welcome changes, but that first tentpole is what will take the iPhone to the next gear and cause Apple holdouts to find something else to harp on. Multitasking will be handled by seven unique services, which include background audio, VoIP, background location, as well as push and local notifications, task completion, and finally, fast app switching. For those of us who have resorted to jailbreaking to be able to listen to Pandora while browsing or make a Skype call while typing an email, iPhone OS 4 can't get here soon enough. For developers, the iPhone SDK 4 beta is available now.

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Chris King

Chris King is a former contributing editor at Pocketables.