Photos: Apple iPhone OS 3.0, copy and paste included
System-wide search, MMS, push notifications, and P2P are also among the new OS features unveiled at an invite-only event Tuesday.
App store enhancements
Apple on Tuesday unveiled the next version of its iPhone operating system, dubbed version 3.0, at an invite-only event at its Cupertino, Calif., headquarters.
With CEO Steve Jobs on temporary medical leave, Apple's Scott Forstall, the head of iPhone software development, took the lead. In addition to the much-awaited copy-and-paste functionality, other key new features include system-wide search, MMS, push notifications, and P2P.
iPhone 3.0 will be available for developers beginning today, and to everyone else "this summer." It's a free upgrade for iPhone users; those who own the iPod Touch will again have to pay for the upgrade.
Here, Forstall announces App Store enhancements, such as Apple's new "In-App Purchase" system, which lets developers create an application where extra content can be purchased from within it to expand what it can do. All the billing is handled by Apple, and goes through the user's iTunes Store account.
Forstall discusses a new peer-to-peer system in which you can find other iPhones and iPod Touches in a given area that are playing the same game as you. He gives the example of two kids in the back of a car. iPhone 3.0 will automatically discover other applications over Bluetooth, and there's no pairing.
"Completely seamless," he promises. Bonjour is the back-end technology behind this, and it's not just for games.
The push notification feature that was supposed to appear in September of last year will finally be making its way to phones in version 3.0. Forstall notes that Apple had been late on this, and blamed the delay on scaling, saying that the original system was too taxing on both the handset's battery and its processing power.
The new system works just like the old one, but has been optimized for over-the-air data transfer. It still relies on Apple's servers as a go-between to send audio alerts, text messages, and badge notifications. Users still have to fire up the application to get at the data, though.
Forstall reviewed the current iPhone SDK (software development kit), introduced a year ago and allowing developers to use the same APIs that Apple developers use. "We've spent the last year working hard to make this SDK even better," he says. Apple has unlocked more than 1,000 APIs. (APIs are communication standards that developers use to have their application interact with the iPhone).
The Sims 3 for iPhone was developed with the new SDK. This demo shows in-game purchase capabilities, using the "simoleans" that serve as money in the Sims. Here, "Scott" buys a stereo, which lets you play your iPod library in the game through the virtual stereo.
ESPN's Oke Okaro shows off the channel's new native iPhone app. The new SDK lets ESPN deliver better notifications of scores or news. Game highlights can be delivered to the iPhone, rather than pulled by the user. The app uses the new video-streaming capability in the SDK.
LifeScan's Anita Mathew discusses the company's diabetes iPhone application. The app works with glucose monitoring hardware, a blood sugar reader, to transmit a patient's data back to a database, and allow the patient to note how they feel or what they've eaten to better manage their blood sugar.
The data is sent from the blood sugar reader to the iPhone over Bluetooth. Within the app itself, patients can track blood sugar levels over the course of the day, allowing them to plan future meals by checking sugar levels in certain foods. The patient can also e-mail or text that blood sugar information to others, such as parents, helping them monitor their kids' health. Here, Mathew demonstrates how the iPhone communicate directly with a glucose monitor.
Ge Wang talks about Smule's new app, called Leaf Trombone World Stage. It's a social gaming experience geared around music, Wang says. The app lets you create music by blowing into the microphone--like in its other game, Ocarina--but you can have a backing track and you can synchronize with another player over Wi-Fi.
To copy text, simply double-tap the screen, and it pulls up an option to cut, copy, and paste. Drag a start point and an end point over the text you want, and then double-tap again. The phone will save the text in a clipboard, from which it can be taken elsewhere. You can also grab entire sections of text using a large rectangle that can be moved around to include paragraphs at a time.
The new OS lets you send and receive multimedia messages (MMS). This means text messages can be sent with photos and voice recordings, all without using the built-in mail application to do it. Missing, however, is any kind of video support, which is an MMS feature found on many other phones with built-in cameras.
Apple has integrated its Spotlight search technology across the entire device. This will let users search for specific e-mail messages, applications, contacts, and any other data from within those applications in one place. Users get to it from a new menu that's to the left of their first home screen. Swiping to the left brings up an open search box that brings in results as you type, similar to Spotlight search on Mac OS X.
A question and answer session followed the presentation. From left to right: Scott Forstall, senior vice president of iPhone Software; Phil Schiller, Apple's senior vice president of Worldwide Product Marketing; and Greg Joswiak, Apple's vice president of iPhone and iPod marketing.