iPhone OS 4.0: Multitasking, iAd get top billing at Apple announcement

At Thursday's Apple announcement, Steve Jobs rolled out a new operating system for the Apple iPhone and iPad. The highlights of the iPhone OS 4.0 include an advertising platform called iAd, a digital zoom for the iPhone camera, and multitasking capabilities.

An Apple outlet in New York City. During the Thursday Apple announcement, CEO Steve Jobs introduced a new operating system for the Apple iPhone. The iPhone 4.0 OS includes multitasking capabilities and a new ad platform.

On Thursday, Apple CEO Steve Jobs took the stage in Cupertino, Calif., to introduce iPhone OS 4.0, the long-awaited upgrade for Apple's top-selling smart phone. As expected, the iPhone OS 4.0 will support app multitasking – a functionality that should make it easier for users to flip between active apps. Jobs was quick to stress that multitasking on the iPhone wouldn't totally suck up battery power.

“It’s really easy to implement multitasking in a way that drains battery life," Jobs said, according to Wired Magazine. "If you don’t do it just right your phone’s going to feel sluggish and your battery life is going to go way down. We’ve figured out how to implement multitasking of third-party apps and avoid those things," he added. "It’s very, very easy to use and very efficient, and I think users are going to love it."

On the old OS, users had to exit one app completely before launching a new one. On OS 4.0, users can tap the home button twice, which will bring up a menu of all open apps. You'll be able to duck in and out of applications, Jobs said, with a simple click. “We weren’t the first to this party but we’re going to be the best, just like cut and paste,” Jobs said, referring to Apple's late adoption of cut and paste technology on the iPhone.

(Interestingly, multitasking capabilities will only be available for the iPhone 3GS and the newest iteration of the iPod Touch – owners of the plain old iPhone 3G, like this blogger, will be left out of the party.)

While multitasking has drawn the most attention from tech journalists, Apple is introducing an array of new features for OS 4.0, including a 5x digital zoom for the camera, tap-and-zoom support for video files, and a new ad platform called iAd. Jobs spent a good deal of time at the conference discussing the merits of iAd, which will be built into iPhone OS 4.0.

"We have a lot of free or reasonably priced apps," Jobs said. "We like that, but our [developers] have to find ways to make money. So our [developers] are putting ads into apps, and for lack of a better way to say it, we think most of this kind of advertising sucks." The details on iAd are still trickling out, but basically it looks like the platform is intended as a competitor to AdMob and Google.

Here's commentary from Chad Catacchio of thenextweb.com:

From what Jobs showed on stage, the ads will run kind of as apps within apps, and will not use Adobe Flash – they will be HTML 5 (another dagger in the heart of Flash on these devices). iAd will seemingly use location as a main ingredient to deliver ads. iAd will actually be run directly from iPhone OS 4.0 and users will not actually ever leave the app that they are in. From what Jobs showed, Apple wants to focus on video ads.

Jobs noted that the average user spends more than 30 minutes a day with iPhone applications, which provides a major opportunity for advertisers. "You know the ads on the web – they're eye catching and interactive, but they don't deliver emotion," Jobs said. "What we want to do with iAds is deliver interaction and emotion."

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