Hi! My name is Cédric Bozzi, I make websites and iOS apps, and this is my blog about technology (mostly a Twitter archive, really).

8 April 2010

iPhone OS 4.0

Well, that was rather less spectacular than I expected/hoped — as usual. Congratulations to Apple for the 450,000 iPads sold, that’s a nice number, and for the three million iPad apps sold, of which a whopping fifty sales or so were mine, oh yay.

The preview page on Apple’s site is surprisingly succinct; somewhat appropriate to the amount of changes in the new OS, but not to its version number.

 

Multitasking: As a developer, I’m not immensely excited by the way they’ve implemented it, because it’s limited to whatever Apple has thought of providing (and I’m incidentally curious to see if/how the API restricts your choices when it comes to VoIP standards and streaming formats). But, as a user, I must admit that it’s somewhat elegant and well designed.

It’s very interesting that location-tracking background processes will be limited to cell tower triangulation instead of having access to the GPS hardware (except for navigation systems, of course); that sounds like a clever way to save power.

And I can’t wait to see how fast application switching is implemented from a developer’s point of view — if it’s simple and reliable enough, it could provide a pretty awesome user experience.

I’m sad, but not really surprised, that none of this will be available on my old iPhone 3G; I always expected that they would have a hard time fitting any kind of multitasking within its limited RAM and CPU. It was time to upgrade anyway.

 

Folders: Well, that was overdue, wasn’t it? I find the graphics a little odd, and I agree that “Stacks” would have made more sense and been prettier, but who cares when all we ever wanted was some way to organize our goddamn deluge of iPhone apps.

I’m not sure it’s been mentioned, but judging from the 2,160 app limit (surely someone somewhere will manage to reach that ceiling, and possibly complain about it) it seems like you can’t have more than twelve apps per folder; I guess that’s okay. Multiple pages plus multiples folders — and, most important of all, the ability to have folders in the dock — sounds like it should be enough to handle the organizational needs of most people.

 

Mail: His Steveness had pre-announced the unified inbox not long ago, so no surprise there. And I’m not sure I’ve ever even tried to have Mail display message threads on my Mac. In short, unlike Jobs, I don’t really “live in Mail” so I don’t care too much as long as I can receive messages and occasionally reply to them.

 

iBooks: Obviously.

 

Enterprise: Interesting that, still today, business improvements get mentioned prominently at the keynote, and even deserve a whole separate page on Apple’s site. I guess, with businesses finally beginning to acknowledge non-BlackBerry, non-Windows smartphones, this isn’t the time to let Android slip into any cracks.

I’m curious about the data encryption APIs, and surprised that SSL VPNs weren’t already available.

 

Game Center: What? Now I didn’t see that coming. (Funny, it’s not mentioned on Apple’s page.) If there’s one thing I would never have envisioned Apple getting into, it’s automatic matchmaking and game achievements.

That’s good news because I hate most existing “networks” on the iPhone (OpenFeint et al., with the exception of Facebook Connect, which absolutely every game should integrate), and even better news in that it shows that Apple is actually listening, sometimes, to all those game developers that have been invited to iPhone keynotes over the years.

Who knows, that recent patent for a PSP-like shell to snap around your iPhone could actually be a real upcoming product.

 

iAd: Really, that’s one of the seven “tentpoles” (ugh) of OS 4.0? By which I mean, really, it’s part of the OS at all? That’s just weird, and awkward, and ethically dubious, and this whole thing rubs me in a lot of wrong ways.

It makes me wonder if they’re not running this thing, not because they want to profit, but purely and solely in order to fuck with Google some more. And, on some level, I think I’d rather that was really their main motivation.

Yet, for all the borderline abuse of monopoly, it’s going to be really convenient for developers, so I have to acknowledge that it does have merit. Still, ugh.

 

And what wasn’t there: No new iPhone. Which, apparently (I can’t be bothered to remember or check), is the usual way Apple handles those iPhone OS announcements.

But, if Apple was a couple of months away from launching an iPhone HD — which would undoubtedly require a little work from third-party developers to take advantage of the extra pixels — you’d think the release of a beta SDK would be a perfect time to mention it.

Just before the keynote, John Gruber predicted:

If I’m right that the next-gen iPhone will have a 960 × 640 display, they might start talking about higher-res iPhone apps today, and spin it as a way to make iPhone apps look sharper when run on iPads.

Yes, that would have made sense, wouldn’t it.

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