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Apple ready for third generation of iPhone

Company plans to give a preview of its iPhone 3.0 software next week. What might Apple have decided to include in the new release?

Steve Jobs unveiled the iPhone 2.0 software last year, and now Apple's ready to talk about iPhone 3.0. James Martin/CNET

What might Apple have in store for the third release of its iPhone software?

The company plans to hold one of its trademark special events Tuesday at its headquarters in Cupertino, Calif., to show off "an advance preview of what we're building" for the iPhone 3.0 software release, according to an invitation distributed Thursday. The event will come just a little more than a year after the iPhone 2.0 software event laid out Apple's policies for getting third-party applications onto the iPhone, as well as business-friendly features.

Here's what we know: Apple plans to discuss a new software development kit at the event in addition to demonstrating the new software.

This could explain why the company has been slow to offer renewals for current SDK licenses, as it might be requiring developers to sign a whole new agreement. While the software will be the main attraction, developers will be closely watching for details about how the new SDK will affect their businesses.

So, about that software: judging by the comments on our initial post about the event, iPhone users are looking for Apple to finally bring cut-and-paste capability to the device. Of all the advancements Apple has planned for the iPhone 3.0 software, that's probably the one users are hoping for the most.

There's a solid chance that Apple plans to introduce true background processing with iPhone 3.0, given the seeming disappearance of the quasi-background processing capability discussed at last year's Worldwide Developer Conference. This might only work, however, on an upgraded iPhone that probably won't be on display Tuesday.

Apple may therefore have developed some way to let users of older iPhones run more than one application at the same time--perhaps allowing applications to save their states in memory--while enabling true background processing on iPhones that have the capability to handle those demands. We're also coming up on a year since Apple acquired P.A. Semi to work on developing chips for the iPhone and iPod Touch, and the first fruits of that acquisition might be ready for public airing.

Gene Munster of Piper Jaffray thinks Apple may demonstrate a "universal search capability" as part of the new software. There's no real way to search your iPhone on the device's home screen, although individual applications such as Contacts have their own search functions, of course.

Leading up to this announcement, however, the rumor mill has been sort of quiet regarding iPhone software upgrades. What do you think Apple might have up its sleeve? Or, more importantly, what do you want Apple to release as part of iPhone 3.0? Let us know in the comments below.

Update 12:30 p.m. PDT - Boy Genius Report claims to have info that iPhone 3.0 will finally add support for MMS--a common complaint about the current iPhone--as well as allow tethering between the iPhone and a laptop.