Thoughts on iPhone OS4.0

By on April 13, 2010
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Apple announced their iPhone OS4 in an event held last week and numerous additions were made to bring the OS one step closer to what everybody wants from it.

Apple announced their iPhone OS4 in an event held last week and numerous additions were made to bring the OS one step closer to what everybody wants from it. There were a few things that Apple left out as well which should come as no surprise to anyone as Apple has always said that they will only implement something when they feel they have done it in the best possible way. Yes, I know that Apple’s way is not necessarily the best way for everyone but since it is their hardware and software, there isn’t too much you can do about it.

About the announcement- lets look at some of the things that Apple will introduce. Starting off, Multi-tasking is probably the most wished-for feature and I like the way Apple has allowed this by only allowing access to APIs that an application needs to exist in the background. So, for example, Pandora only using the audio API and Skype only using the VOIP API are great examples as those application really only need to stream audio or keep a data connection and not much else while in the background. This will certainly help with battery life as not all features will be required for all apps. For example, when you leave a game, you really do not want that game eating any resources so the best option for that game is to save itself in a paused state and not take any resources whatsoever.

Speaking of Gaming, the new Game Center in OS4 brings social gaming aspects to the iPhone- somewhat like the XBox live kind of environment. In multi-player games, your friends can send you challenges or Game Center can find players for you. Leaderboards and achievements are also part of the platform with your overall rankings and in-game achievements shared with friends and the community. Considering the impact that the iPhone has had over mobile gaming, this is sure to spark a lot of interest.

Unified Inbox is the next thing which has been around in other platforms for a while and I’m glad to see I wont have to tap the screen four times just to see a message in my Inbox from another account. Interestingly, the new Mail app also allows multiple Exchange accounts and threaded displays for people that like how Gmail handles mail viewing. Finally, you can open attachments with other apps installed on the iPhone.

The iPhone is now capable of organizing your apps into folders which is great considering the tons of applications that one carries on the iPhone. You can simply drag one icon on top of another to create a folder and once the folder is created, you can drag any applications into it. You can drag the folder to your dock as well. Also coming in OS4 is iBooks which is carried from the iPad allowing you to buy and read books on your device. Better Enterprise Support is also present for data encryption, Mobile Device Management and wireless application distribution.

Last and possibly me least favorite is iAd which brings Mobile advertising to the mobile platform. Think of it as next-gen Google Ads where ads within apps will show up that can be tapped to bring a full-screen ad. The silver lining is that “Apple” is handling this so hopefully most ads will look great and something you’d want to click.

So those were some of the key features of OS4 as presented by Apple. There are two things that I would’ve loved to see out of which one may happen. With Multi-tasking, an Apple designed chatting service such as iChat would be a great addition and some hints in the developer version of the iPhone make me think that we might see it soon. I would have also loved to see a new lock-screen that shows my upcoming appointments and emails etc., very much like lock screen allows me to, but with a Jailbroken iPhone. But then again, if those were already present in OS4, there wouldn’t be much to look forward to OS5 :)

The new OS should be available for the iPhone in Summer and the iPad in fall. Owners of the 3GS and the latest generation of iPod Touch will get all of these features but older models such as the 3G will have a restricted version with things like Multi-tasking not working. First gen iPhone users need to upgrade their phone.


Abbas Jaffar Ali is the founder of and a blogger, geek and self-declared tech pundit who can't stop talking about technology. Find him on twitter as @ajaffarali

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