At its headquarters in Cupertino, California, Apple has introduced new features of the iTunes App Store, a new iPhone OS 3.0 and SDK development kit. This includes 1,000 new iPhone APIs for developers to work with, including access to the proximity sensor, in-app email capabilities, text selection and highlighted images.
The first new feature lets software developers sell content from within applications, such as new levels for games or subscriptions to extra content found in programs such as eBook readers. Electronic Arts was on-hand to demo the upcoming Sims 3 iPhone game, and gamers will be able to buy content for the title from within the game itself. Useful if you want a new dog or something.
Apps can now be programmed to enable voice chat over a network connection, stream audio and video, access the iPod's library and record audio, as well as utilise peer-to-peer connectivity. By enabling iPhones to discover each other over Bluetooth, software developers can write software that lets multiple iPhones talk to each other for playing games (mutiplayer games have been possible over Wi-Fi for some time).
Apple is still not letting apps run in the background though (it drains power, apparently), so looking something up in Safari while writing an email ain't gonna be an option. Suck it, productivity fans. Apple will let online services push updates (think new messages, etc) to closed apps, but only via Apple's servers. Again, for power reasons.
In other SDK news, iPhone and iPod touch accessory makers will be able to build applications that interact with their products -- a multi-band EQ app for use with an iPod speaker system, for example. The Maps application built into the iPhone is now available to developers to incorporate into new applications, and, finally, turn-by-turn GPS navigation is also available! Though you can't use Google Maps for this, so developers will have to build your own maps.
Beta testing of the SDK begins today, which the new features will be available to iPhones and iPod Touches with a firmware update in the summer. It'll be free for iPhone 3G and original iPhone owners, and will cost $9.95 (UK pricing has yet to be announced) for iPod Touch owners.