April 8, 2010
Apple iPhone OS 4 will bring multitasking to developers, upgraded device management tools to enterprises, and application folders to end users.
CEO and cofounder Steve Jobs acknowledged today that such features, especially multitasking, are old-hat for most other brands of smartphone,
and defended Apple's timeframe by focusing on long battery life and an easier user experience compared to existing products.
The new software is backward-compatible for the iPhone 3GS and compatible without multitasking for the older iPhone 3G, Jobs said. It's available now for testing and will ship this summer, followed by a fall release for the iPad, he said.
"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. 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," Apple said in a media statement corresponding with Jobs' presentation.
Developers can enable multitasking for seven specific tasks -- background audio, background location, application switching, local notifications, push notification, task completion, and VoIP.
Industry analyst Jack Gold, in a research note this afternoon, noted that the multitasking still has limitations compared to other devices: "...you can't write your own multi-tasking capabilities into a program," he stated. "This may be an issue for companies that do a lot of background processing, like say, running a database or reporting on a device in background."
For enterprise management, Apple's own statement continues: "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. The new Data Protection feature uses a user's passcode as an encryption key to protect mail messages and attachments stored on the iPhone. iPhone OS 4 now provides the option to set a longer, more complex passcode..."
"iPhone OS 4 [also] allows IT managers to set up multiple Exchange ActiveSync accounts, is compatible with Exchange Server 2010 and includes support for forthcoming SSL VPN applications from Juniper Networks and Cisco."
Apple also said that multiple accounts, including multiple Exchange accounts, can be accessed through a unified inbox.
Business users and consumers alike will get application folder options, the ability to change wallpapers, and access to the iBooks store. Consumer-centric new features will include an in-application advertising network and social networking for the Game Kit.
In total, there are more than 100 new features and 1,500 APIs available, officials said.