The Evolution of iPhone OS

As most ZNF readers know, Apple held an event yesterday to unveil iPhone 4.0 OS – consisting of 100 new user features and 1500 new developer hooks. And with the introduction of multitasking (of any stripe) and folders for app organization, I’d say the platform is now feature complete. Certainly those were my top two requests. Although, I’m bummed Apple stuck with their minimalist and intrusive notification system. Home screen widgetry would have been a nice enhancement, too.

The iPhone OS 4 will be made available (in varying degrees) to iPhones this summer and to the iPad next fall. It’s also safe to assume there will be new iPhone hardware this summer, perhaps containing additional surprises.

I briefly toyed with the idea of paying the $99 developer fee to upgrade now, but after brainstorming with Jason Chen, Kevin Tofel, and MethodicJon I’ve decided to save the cash as there’s really no multitasking-enabled apps available at the moment. Plus, should the developer build be buggy, there’s no rolling back.

As I’ve done with other recent events, and thanks to fabulous live coverage by the likes of Engadget, Gizmodo, and gdgt, I provided real-time snark tweetage:

  • I’m live from the Android 8.0 event.
  • Multitasking? Poor Windows Phone 7 Series.
  • Man, Windows 3.1 rocks! Multitasking, folders, and MY OWN wallpaper.
  • All joking aside, the folders implementation looks really well done. But notifications/alerts still need serious help…
  • Wow, Apple beat Microsoft to a mobile Xbox Live. Snooze you lose. They’re not hungry enough. Or too bloated?
  • I can’t wait for more advertising in my apps.
  • AT&T is going to have to throttle those streaming, interactive, bandwidth hogging ads. Sorry, Apple.
  • Ha! First and second gen iPhone owners get iAds but not multitasking? Make ’em all upgrade, Steve.
  • Nice Apple presentation. I’ll buy an iPad next fall when it has folders & I can multitask. In the meantime, when’s the Sprint Nexus One hit?

17 thoughts on “The Evolution of iPhone OS”

  1. Yeah, the no multitasking for the iphone 3g is annoying. I am not going to upgrade just for that. Is the 3gs really that much more powerful? I wonder if they do this to kill the used iphone market.

    Multitasking is a bigger deal for the ipad anyways.

    Love the tweets.

  2. I think 4.0 looks great, but would have loved to see a better notifications UI or at least a Manager for all the alerts i get on a regular basis.

  3. “In the meantime, when’s the Sprint Nexus One hit?”

    The Sprint N1 will be available in June, along with the Evo.

    The Evo will make you abandon your “feature complete” ( and hopelessly inferior ) iPhone 3GS!

    A few EVO specs:

    * Download, view, edit and share 720p HD content from your phone.
    * Out put video with HDMI
    * 8.0 megapixel camera
    * 1,500 mAh removable battery

    …oh yeah, free unlimited send/receive text messaging with Google Voice!


  4. I have a 3G through work, and I’m not eligible for an upgrade for another year or so. By then hopefully there will be an iPhone HD of some sort that blows the 3GS out of the water.

    Anyway, it’s only a matter of time before the jailbreaking community cracks iPhone 4.0 to enable the multi-tasking features in the regular 3G. My 3G already can multi-task thanks to a program called Backgrounder and the 3.1.2 jailbreak. It’s nice to keep Pandora running in the background while reading e-mail, texts or light web surfing. Also enabling quick access to IM or other applications without having to sign in all over again.

    The folders will be a great enhancement. I’ve tried the “Categories” jailbreak app and it was just too slow and clumsy to use everyday.

    I’ve had the chance to use my 3G and a friends 3GS side by side, and I have to say that the 3GS is a few seconds faster at loading certain apps. The 3GS really shines when panning in the Maps application, as if it has more of the map already cached in memory. Also the augmented reality features in Urbanspoon are really cool on the 3GS, whereas on my 3G it simply shows a flat 2D map in that space. Overall I was impressed with the 3GS speed over mine, but not enough to warrant the huge price difference over the $99 3G phone.

  5. Todd, The longer it takes for the N1 on Sprint to show up, the less likely I get it. We know there will be a new iPhone in June… What are they waiting for?? The EVO makes me a bit more nervous as the first 4G phone, (given the reported Overdrive problems) with possible additional tethering fees. The 720P appeals, though. Also, on the Sprint plan I’d get unlimited SMS anyway so that’s not a factor.

    Cypher, on my previous (jailbroken) iPhone, I too ran Categories and found it slow. Also, at the time it also made the springboard crashy. Maybe it’s better now.

  6. Having compared the 3G and 3GS, yes the 3GS is more powerful. The 3GS has 256 MB of RAM (compared with 128 MB for the 3G) and it has a 600 MHz processor (compared with 412 MHz for the 3G). Launching an app on a 3GS is nearly instantaneous, unlike the 3G.

    As for the update, I’m really excited about it, but it doesn’t make the phone “feature complete”.

    Take for example “multitasking”, which isn’t true multitasking, but task managing. Yes it is better than what’s available now, but it will be completely useless for running certain apps in the “background” (since they won’t actually be running). Apps running in the background won’t be able to initiate any kind of connections to fetch data since they aren’t truly active.

    For example, you won’t be able to run a Twitter app in the background and get twitter updates. The only way this can work is if the app sends either push or local notifications to remind you to bring it to the foreground so it can get updates.

    I understand why Apple did this since true multitasking would drain the battery on the phone very quickly (it already drains in less than 4 hours playing “We Rule”), but it’s disappointing.

  7. “The longer it takes for the N1 on Sprint to show up, the less likely I get it… What are they waiting for?”

    Q1 2011? I am not an accountant, nor d I play one on TV, so I don’t have any knowledge of the reason Sprint ( and Apple ) want sales from new phones to go on next fiscal year’s books.

    “We know there will be a new iPhone in June.”

    Umm no, the 3GS will be for sale in June with yesterday’s version 4.0 of the OS – that’s not “new”

  8. Todd, Both the Verizon and Sprint Nexus One are CDMA and neither are released. So I’m guess it’s just taken extra engineering work. I’m sure they’d rather have it out sooner, rather than later too.

    Regarding a new iPhone, I’ll bet you $50 we see a new hardware announcement in June or July.

    Moarc, yeah your use cases emphasize the need for a redesign of the notification system to better work with push alerts that do not take over your screen and cannot be interacted with in any meaningful way.

  9. “…Both the Verizon and Sprint Nexus One are CDMA and neither are released. So I’m guess it’s just taken extra engineering work.”

    No way, folks at HTC are well versed in CDMA. I’m telling you its the accounting and legal departments holding Sprint N1 up.

    “’ll bet you $50 we see a new hardware announcement in June or July.”

    I can’t afford fifty bucks, but I’ll bet you one beer June’s “new” iPhone is just the current 3GS with version 4.0 of the OS, nothing more.

    P.S. I’m thirsty!


  10. “but I’ll bet you one beer June’s ‘new’ iPhone is just the current 3GS with version 4.0 of the OS, nothing more.”

    Considering the hardware specs on the Nexus One and other new Android phones, I’d disagree. Or if it is, Apple is in for a drumming.

  11. @peter

    Considering the hardware specs of the *Evo* Apple is in for an unavoidable drumming, regardless of what they offer up as a “new” iPhone.

    HTC has set the bar so high with the Evo, its impossible to beat, especially in the area of ultra high quality photographs, 720p video in and out via HDMI.

    Evo allows for up to eight (8!) desktop computers to tether!

  12. @Todd

    A. I think the Evo looks awesome, I really want one, though I’d also take a spring Nexus One.

    B. I don’t know how much Apple really has to… a lot of my female friends looking at smartphones still want iPhones, cause “they look more fun”.

    I bet you’ll see apple kick out a higher res screen, and put in an AMOLED screen (and claim they invented it) and be all “OMG it’s an iPod HD”

  13. @Dan S

    Exactly. Apple’s “new” iPhone in June will be just that, the current 3GS with 4.0 and an AMOLED screen – which is NOT a “new phone”.

    ( and Mr. Zatz will have lost our bet! :) )

  14. Todd, I’ll buy you that beer anyway as a good friend of ZNF. But when the next iPhone has a new processor, new screen, and front facing camera I will win. Even though I’ll probably be on a Nexus One at the time.

  15. From the classic Simpson’s episode “Lisa vs. Malibu Stacy”

    A crowd of girls wait anxiously for the opening of the toy store so they can be the first to get Lisa Lionheart.

    When the doors are opened, the crowd stampedes in. “Look,” cries one girl, “it’s Lisa Lionheart!” Another encourages them, “Keep running! We’re almost there!”

    They almost make it, except an employee pulls a cart full of Malibu Stacy dolls “with NEW hat” in their path.

    They all stop.

    “They changed Malibu Stacy!” one exclaims. “She is better than ever!” says another.

    Lisa Simpson: “It’s the same Malibu Stacy, the only difference is her stupid cheap hat. She still embodies all the awful stereotypes she did before!”

    Smithers is quick to point out, “But she’s got a new hat.”

    This is all it takes for the girls to ignore Lisa Lionheart in favor of the cheap hatted dolls.

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