Mike Becky

Tag Archive for ‘iPhone OS’

Apple Prepping Apple TV Update ➝

A little over a week after Google announced Google TV at I/O, Engadget has received word of an upcoming Apple TV update.

I’m still looking into Google TV, but I just haven’t found anything compelling about it. The biggest drawback in my opinion is its use of IR blasters to control other components in your home theater set up. I really don’t think it’s going to be successful in its current form. It’s really hard to get people to buy another box, especially when it doesn’t replace anything in your set up and simply adds functionality to existing components.

The Apple TV update, on the other hand, sounds amazing. Especially if it is paired with the rumored TV subscriptions that was the talk of the town late last year.

According to Engadget’s sources, the new Apple TV will be much closer to the iPhone and iPad in terms of OS and hardware than to Macs. The device will have an A4 processor, 16GB of storage, and will be capable of 1080p video playback. Because of the limited storage Apple will be focusing on cloud-based storage, although there will be an option to use a Time Capsule to keep your data a little closer to home. iPhone OS will be utilized as the operating system and the biggest shocker is that it will only cost $100.

John Gruber has chimed in saying that the new Apple TV’s “K66” code name has been in the iPhone OS 4 beta SDK for months.

I suspect that the Apple Remote will be used as the primary control device with the option to use an iPhone or iPod touch with the Remote app installed. But, what will the interface look like? Will there be a browser or app store?

iPhone 4.0 Beta 4

I’ve downloaded and installed iPhone 4.0 beta 4 on my iPhone 3GS. I’ve run 4.0 betas in the past but stability issues forced me to downgrade back to 3.1.3. But, beta 4 almost feels like gold master. I haven’t had any of the wonky issues I had with previous betas and I have a feeling I’ll be running beta releases on my main device until Apple pushes out the gold master this summer.

Many have written about the latest beta documenting some of the changes from the previous build. I’ve decided to publish my own screenshots of these changes almost simply for my own sake. I’ve always found it easier to find what I’m looking for if I know I’ve published it here rather than having to meander through Google search results.

The biggest change in beta 4 is the tethering option in the settings app. Attempting to turn on tethering prompts you to either call AT&T or visit their website to set it up. By no means is this confirmation, but it does lead me to believe that tethering might actually be coming to the U.S. sooner than previously thought.

New iPhone 4.0 Features ➝

The Boy Genius Report has published a rundown of the new features in iPhone OS 4.0 beta 3. File sharing through iTunes, media player controls in the app switching tray, a quicker way to close apps, and an orientation lock are all mentioned. There may be more features in beta 3 but these are the most important ones.

I’m happy to finally see an orientation lock, this is something I’ve been hoping for since the iPhone first came out. And, I’m also happy to see that Apple has brought back media player controls for the double click home button shortcut. I rely heavily on this feature and use it more often than you might think, when I was running beta 1 this was one of those missing features that drove me absolutely crazy.

Arnold Kim, of MacRumors, is also reporting some interesting findings in beta 3. He reports that OS 4.0 gives developers full access to video capture which will make for some much more functional video recording and editing applications. But, the new APIs don’t just let you capture video at 640×480 but also reveal the ability to capture video at higher resolutions, such as 1280×720.

The camera in the next iPhone was rumored to be of the 5 megapixel variety. But, this news of higher resolution video capture adds credence to the rumored “iPhone HD” name. And, if these camera rumors are true, the iPhone is giving even better reason to carry it as your one and only device.

Apple Dropping Support for First-Gen iPhone ➝

As if the announcement regarding compatibility wasn’t clear enough, the first generation iPhone will no longer receive software updates from Apple. @ven000m sent Steve Jobs an email asking the question and Steve replied:

Sorry, no.

This isn’t exactly a surprise but I had incorrectly predicted that the first generation iPhone would support iPhone OS 4. I didn’t think that it would support all of the features, Apple often leaves features out of software updates for old hardware. But, I suppose I didn’t think it through as much as I should have. By the time 4.0 comes out every person who purchased the first generation iPhone will be out of contract (or very close to out of contract). A 3 year life cycle for devices makes perfect sense.

Anyone who is upset about this should either switch to a new platform or suck it up and buy a new iPhone.

iPhone OS 4 Supports Enhanced Podcast Links

I listen to quite a few enhanced podcasts, many of them include links in each of their chapters. Unfortunately iPhone OS hasn’t supported those links, even though it has a full web browser. But, with iPhone OS 4 links now appear when listening to enhanced podcasts.

The image on the left is an iPod touch running iPhone OS 3.1.3 playing the most recent episode of the Engadget podcast, the image on the right is an iPhone 3GS running OS 4 playing back the same podcast.

The first change is that the progress bar now shows the entire podcast length, not just the current chapter. The chapter selector can still be accessed by tapping the track list button (although currently, selecting a track crashes the app). But, there is new info button below the playback controls, tapping on it takes you into Mobile Safari to visit the web page linked to by the current chapter.

iPhone OS 4 Screenshots

I’ve had a little bit of time with iPhone OS 4 and it is actually quite stable. A few of my apps don’t work that well (or at all). Birdhouse for example crashes when you attempt to open it and Delivery Status Touch only displays a black screen. But, beyond all of that it is still very usable even though it is such an early build. There aren’t any applications available that are background aware but fast app switching alone can come in quite handy. I found it especially useful when using TomTom’s navigation app.

One unexpected result of applications’ ability to save state is that Fever has become quite a bit more useful to me. Fever has been my favorite feed reader ever since it was released last summer but since web clips can now save state whenever I launch Fever it often times (unless it was flushed from memory) goes right back to where I left off and there is no need to reload the page. The only downside to this is that if I receive any errors from Fever I have to manually close the application in the app switching dock.

I haven’t found anything that I don’t like in OS 4, everything has taken a step in the right direction. I’m truly excited to see how this all works once developers start adding background awareness to their apps.

iPhone OS 4

Yesterday, Apple unveiled iPhone OS 4 and along with the rumored multitasking and unified email inbox, Apple had a slew of other features that will push the platform even closer to perfection.

Steve Jobs and Scott Forestall talked about their seven “tentpole” features in iPhone OS 4, but they also mentioned that there are over 100 new user features. Before I get into the big stuff I think there are a few smaller ones that deserve mentioning. Playlist creation, spell check, Bluetooth keyboard support, 5x digital zoom, and home screen wallpapers are some of the more interesting ones.

Apple has introduced folders for the iPhone, just drag and drop an app icon onto another one and a folder is created with a name automatically populated for you (although it can be edited). Folders is just a simple way of organizing your applications but I have a feeling it’s going to make it a lot easier for people to find their apps. I also think many will consider this a way to hide some of the default applications that they don’t ever use.

The rumored unified email inbox was there and with it came a threaded conversation view as well. I’ve been hoping for a unified email inbox since day one and I’m incredibly happy that it’s finally been implemented. Threaded view will be a boon for those of you who get a lot of email, but for people like me it’ll never get used. Apple has also announced the ability to open email attachments with applications from the App Store, so if you receive a photo you could choose what photo editor you’d like to open it in.

Apple has brought iBooks to the iPhone. This shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone, Apple clearly has been working on this for a while but decided that the iPad announcement wasn’t the right time to talk about it. Buy a book once and read it on either the iPad or the iPhone. Current location and bookmarks will be wirelessly synced, so you’ll be able to read on your iPhone and pick up where you left off on your iPad.

Apple has made some enterprising enhancements, including: better data protection, mobile device management, wireless app distribution, support for multiple Exchange accounts, and SSL VPN support.

A new social gaming network has been announced called “Game Center.” In essence it is Xbox Live for the iPhone. You can challenge your friends to a game, it will do automatic matchmaking that will find you opponents of a similar ability to you, leaders boards, and achievements. Game Center is an obvious slap in the face of Sony and Nintendo who as of yet haven’t really been able to make online gaming work too well on handheld devices. I’m incredibly excited about this because two of my family members just recently purchased an iPhone and another one will be doing so in two months. I really like the idea challenging them to a game of Scrabble or checking their achievements in Ramp Champ.

Apple’s acquisition of Quattro Wireless has resulted in a new mobile advertising network for iPhone apps called “iAd.” This announcement appeared to be targeted directly at Google. Jobs made a point to mention that search on mobile devices just doesn’t happen like it does on the desktop, if you want to find a restaurant you open the Yelp app not Google, if you want to find a movie playing you open the Fandango app not Google. Apple is also attempting to increase the quality of ads by creating interactive and emotional experiences. What’s amazing about the implementation of the ads is that even before I saw them I imagined exactly what Apple displayed. A simple banner-style ad that expands to a full screen ad with a close button in the upper-corner. The ads keep you in your app instead of jumping you into Mobile Safari. The ads are built using HTML5 and can make use of audio, video, maps, etc. Apple will be selling and hosting the ads and 60% of the revenue will go to the developer. I think this is a great opportunity for developers and I can assure them that I for one will not hesitate to tap on these ads.

I’ve decided to leave the biggest announcement for last, as it deserves the most attention. Multitasking is finally coming to the iPhone. Apple claims to have implemented multitasking while avoiding battery life issues and performance degradation. Apple has made it easy for applications to save state so that when the app is opened again you are exactly where you left off the last time it was used. This is key to the way Apple has designed their multitasking experience because apps don’t actually run in the background. Instead, Apple has decided to implement the most common background services themselves and will be providing those services as APIs to developers (more on that below). The most striking part of multitasking on the iPhone is fast app switching. Rather than having to go to the home screen and choose your application you can double click the home button and a dock will pop up on the bottom of the screen showing you all of the applications that are “running” in the background. You can then choose one of those apps and jump right into them. This fast app switching seems daunting at first, at least currently I haven’t found any limit to the number of apps that can sit in that dock, I’ve had as many as 37 in it at a time. And people thought trying to find an app in a screen of 16 icons was hard, try swiping through screens with just 4 icons on each. Luckily, Apple makes it a little bit easier to deal with by letting you remove “close” those applications by tap and holding on the icon and tapping the minus button. Also, your most recently used applications always sit close to (or on) the first four spots.

But, let’s get back to those background services. Background audio was the first service mentioned in which Pandora was demoed playing audio in the background. The player controls that appear on the lock screen are also available to developers, so you can skip to the next or previous song or pause the audio. The next service is voice over IP. When developers implement it you’ll be able to stay on a VoIP call while using another application. Location services will also be able to run in the background. If you are using the TomTom application you’ll be able to open another app and continue to receive directions. Since GPS uses so much power, some applications that don’t need your exact location will be able to use information from the call towers to determine your location. They’ve also added app by app controls for location services and an icon to the status bar that let’s you know if any application is currently asking for your location.

Push notifications was Apple’s first background service and they’ve made sure you remind you that it’s around. But, they’ve also added local notifications which are exactly as the name suggests. The final background service is task completion, such as uploading photos to Flickr.

I have to admit that Apple seems to have hit a home run with iPhone OS 4. Multitasking alone would be a big step forward, but with all of the other announcements, 4.0 is a real leap. I’ve had a little bit of hands-on time with iPhone OS 4 and will be publishing more observations and screenshots over the next few days.

iPhone OS 4 will be released this summer for the iPhone 3G, 3GS, second, and third generation iPod touch. The second generation iPod touch and iPhone 3G will not support all of the new features (such as multitasking). iPhone OS 4 will come to the iPad this fall.

Apple iPhone OS Event Rumors

Apple is holding their iPhone OS event today and there have been a couple more rumors circulating regarding the announcements. The first of which is from Kaufman Bros. analyst Shaw Wu. Yes, the same Shaw Wu who predicted that Steve Jobs wouldn’t be at September’s iPod event (in other words, his track record is a little hit and miss).

Shaw Wu claims that Apple will unveil iPhone OS 4.0 with full multi-tasking support and a new “iAd” mobile advertising service. Multi-tasking shouldn’t come as a surprise since it has been mentioned by multiple sources over the past few weeks. But, the iAd platform is something that hasn’t had nearly as many mentions. The first report I managed to find regarding the iAd service was from MediaPost late last month. There wasn’t any solid details about the service’s features but it’s safe to assume that it would be based off of Apple’s recently acquired Quattro Wireless and would give developers of free App Store apps and web apps the ability to monetize their offerings.

The second rumor is based on speculation about Apple’s Pages, Keynote, and Numbers for iPad documentation that states “printing directly from iPad is not currently available.” While this doesn’t come right out and say that these applications will support printing, it does leave the window open for the future. It’s possible that Apple decided to include this simply to make it clear that printing isn’t supported, but they also could have included it because it’s something they’re working on.

I have little reason to believe that printer support will be included in today’s announcements but I can’t imagine it will never make it’s way into the OS. If Apple sees this as a serious content creation platform (and the existence of Pages, Keynote, and Numbers indicate that they do), printing is one feature that can’t be overlooked for too long. It will happen, but when is a different question entirely.

I likely won’t be able to write about today’s announcements until later tonight but rest assured I’ll be waiting with bated breath to see what Apple has in store for the future of iPhone OS.