UPDATE (4/8/10): Apple CEO Steve Jobs has given an overview of the features that will be in his company’s next mobile operating system. To learn all the details, go to:
Apple is going to take the wraps off the next version of its mobile operating system tomorrow. People who are too impatient to wait for the official announcement might be interested in what unconfirmed reports have already revealed about iPhone OS 4.0.
Despite its name, the OS powers more than just Apple’s smartphone. It is also used by the iPod Touch and iPad, so the new version is going to show up in a variety of devices.
Various reports have indicated that Apple is going to remove one of the most unpopular limits for the operating system: the lack of multitasking.
Currently, third-party apps can’t run in the background and have to close when the user switches away from them, though Apple software can keep running.
The next version of Apple’s OS will allegedly allow multiple apps to run concurrently. Users will just double-click the Home button to bring up a screen showing icons for currently running applications. Tapping on one of them will bring that app to the fore.
However, there has been speculation that only some applications will support multitasking, and these will have to be approved by Apple.
Features from the iPad’s Software
Apple’s smartphones and handhelds are running iPhone OS 3.1.3 now, but the iPad debuted last weekend with a new version. Many are hoping that some of the features that debuted on the Apple tablet computer will be available for all devices running the iPhone OS.
One of the most notable apps is a spell checker. Just like on a Mac OS X, the iPad underlines misspelled words in red, and the user is given a list of possible correct spellings.
In addition, the application launcher on the iPad supports both portrait and landscape modes, while the one on the iPhone and iPod touch support only portrait modes; this is expected to change with iPhone OS 4.0.
Supporting New Hardware
Unconfirmed reports indicate that Apple will release its fourth-generation smartphone in May. The iPhone HD will supposedly include a higher resolution screen than its current smartphones or handhelds: 960 x 640 pixels, much more than the 320 x 480 pixels now in operation. If true, the operating system will have to be modified to support it.
There have also been unconfirmed reports that support for video conferencing and a front-facing camera are going to be added to both iPhone OS 4.0 and other Apple devices.
Not Debuting Tomorrow
Apple has promised a “sneak peek into the future of the iPhone OS” at tomorrow’s event, so the next-generation of the operating system isn’t going to be released.
If Apple follows the strategy it did last year, iPhone OS 4.0 is going to be released for current models in May, just before the introduction of the new iPhone.
System software upgrades for the iPhone 3GS, iPhone 3G, iPod touch and iPad are generally expected. Some are anticipating it’s going to be the first upgrade that won’t be available for the original iPhone, which is almost three years old.