Iphone OS 4 New Features

iPhone OS 4: All the New Features

The curtain has been pulled back on iPhone 4, and the list of new features is massive: There's multitasking (finally!), a refreshed interface, and literally hundreds of other changes to the iPhone's software. Here's the full rundown. Updating constantly.

The new OS will ship in June, and a developer preview is available today, so we can expect to have plenty of apps updated and ready for launch.

New Features: Multitasking, App Folders and More

Multitasking: It's here, finally. It's handled with a simple task switcher: double click your home button, and you get a list of running apps. Select, switch, done. Multitasking is limited to audio (Pandora!), VoIP (Skype!) and GPS (Navigation!). Full details here.

Fast app switching: With iPhone 4's multitasking, most apps aren't actually running in the background—just certain functions of the app, like an audio stream or a GPS lock. But! All apps can now be frozen, in full, so that when you reopen them, they're restored to exactly the state they were in when they were closed.

Per-app SMS and alerts: Notifications can be sent from apps on the phone, not just remote services. In other words, if something important happens in an app you've opened and moved away from, a notification will pop up in whatever app you're using at the time, effectively saying "switch back to me!" It's a fairly clever way to keep track of background apps without the need for a start bar or dock-type interface.

App folders: Now you can sort your apps into folders! That's homescreen clutter solved, then.

A new Mail App: Unified inboxes! Multiple Exchange accounts! Fast inbox switching! Threaded messages! This is actually a huge deal, since the iPhone's mail client has barely changed since 2007.

iBooks: Oh hey, that iBooks ebook reader app and accompanying store from the iPad has ambled on down to the iPhone. Nice, since you can now take your books with you wherever you go, as oppose to wherever you go with your iPad.

Custom Backgrounds: Jailbreakers have them. Hell, the iPad has them. Now you can choose a persistent background for your iPhone—and not just for the lockscreen.

Game center: Apple's going to roll out a centralized gaming service—a multiplayer network like PSN or Xbox Live—to help connect games to one another, by the end on the year. There are services that already do this, like OpenFeint. They will probably die. Full details here.

iAd Advertising: It looks like Apple's finally rolling out its own advertising platform, a turnkey ad plugin for developers called iAd. The theory here is that instead of relying on links to external websites, developers can use Apple's new tools to keep people in the app while still showing them advertising—sort of like popover browser windows. You can watch videos, play games, and even buy apps from within these ads.

5x digital zoom: Could this hint at a higher quality camera in the next hardware? 3.2 megapixels seems a bit low for 5x digital zoom.

Tap to focus video

Bluetooth keyboards: Another carryover from the iPad, Bluetooth keyboard support will finally come to iPhone 4.

Which Phones Get It, and When?

When the software ships in the summer, iPhone 3GSes and iPod Touch 3rd-gens devices will get all of the features. The iPhone 3G and Touch 2G will get "many things," which doesn't include multitasking. I repeat: the iPhone 3G won't get multitasking, ever. The iPhone 2G will be left on a hillside somewhere to die of exposure, or something.