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Apple announces iPhone 4.0 – with multitasking

Jonathan Morris
April 9, 2010

There will be a total of 100 new features coming in 4.0, and Steve Jobs took to the stage at Cupertino’s Infinite Loop campus to highlight just a few of them during today’s developer’s preview.

Multitasking took the spotlight of the presentation, with Jobs admitting that while Apple wasn’t first to the party, it was going to be the best, “just like cut and paste.”

Multitasking will be able to take shape in a number of forms. For example, you’ll now be able to play music from your Spotify app while browsing the web, and you’ll even be able to control your playlist from your locked homescreen as you can with iTunes.

You’ll also be able to boot up the Skype app and have it running in the background so you’re always online and available to take calls no matter what you’re doing – you’ll simply get a pop up to inform you of an incoming call.

Background location services get a big tick too, so while you’re busy listening to music or browsing the web, you can still get turn-by-turn voice navigation instructions from a sat-nav app like TomTom.

Other multitasking additions include local notifications that don’t need to go through Apple’s servers before they get to you, fast app switching allowing applications to save their place when quit and restart instantly where you left off, and the ability to leave tasks, such as uploading photos to Flickr, to continue in the background.

Even better, Apple says it can provide all this without affecting battery life or performance.

But that wasn’t all 4.0 has in store. Here’s a few of the other highlights we can expect:

Folders

Users will now be able to bundle their favourite apps into folders for easy finding. This means you could shove all your games, for example, under one icon on the homescreen, and even better, it stretches the iPhone’s capacity from 180 apps to over 2,000.

Customisable homescreen

Not only will you be able to customise your locked screen, but you’ll be able to tweak the background of your homescreen too.

Unified inbox

While the iPhone has been capable of handling multiple mail accounts for a while, you’ll now be able to see all of your emails from all of them in one place. There’s also fast inbox switching for when you want to see just one account, the ability to organise emails by thread, and you’ll even be able to open attachments using apps.

iBooks on the iPhone

Does what it says on the tin. You’ll be able to download ebooks from iBooks to read on your iPhone, and you’ll be able to sync books and bookmarks wirelessly between your iPhone and iPad.

Game Center

Sort of like Xbox Live for your iPhone games, the Game Center will be a social gaming network where you can view leaderboards and win achievements. There’ll even be online matchmaking for games you’re playing to find you suitable opponents.

Now for the bad news. Multitasking will be confined to 3G S and third-gen iPod touches only, meaning 3G owners will miss out on arguably the biggest feature of the update. Still with 99 other tweaks to look forward to, expect the update in the summer, while iPad owners will be able to get their hands on 4.0 in the autumn.

 

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