March 18, 2009

iPhone 3.0: Yes, there's Copy and Paste and then some

No new iPhone revealed today, but existing iPhone (or iPod touch) users can expect a lot from the new firmware to be released by Apple in the Summer months (of course, American summer months) and well, let's cover them chronologically according to the media event that was held.

Developers were the ones in mind when Apple decided to conduct this media event, but that doesn't mean that there are no goodies for end-users as well. Just keep in mind though that the firmware is in beta, and new features might be added. Knowing Apple though, they might even strip one or two in the last minute or otherwise add a buggy feature for that matter.

Anyway, here we go.
Statistics, and more boring stuff
First we have the director of iPod and iPhone Development Team giving out the statistics, iPhone SDK downloads, iPhone sales, motivation for the iPhone developers in the audience, OK, the rudimentary stuff. Additionally, Apple is defending its right for having extremely tight control over App Store submissions by saying that their approval process has become a bit more lax because 96% of App Store submissions have been approved and 98% of submissions have been approved within 7 days, and the man goes on for 5 more minutes afterwards.

Here it really is...
After that, Scott Forstall is called to the stage and we go to the real deal: the iPhone OS 3.0 Software.

Transactions in-App
Developers are pretty much happier because they're able to put purchases in-app, which can actually reduce the number of apps in the App Store, but they're also able to get more revenue and give the consumer more convenience. Catch is that free apps can't do that.
Renew magazine subscriptions inside the app itself.

Local connection to fellow iPhones and iPod touches
Then there's the "Peer to Peer" functionality which enables several iPhones or iPod touches to get inside a local match in a game quickly and through Bluetooth so users need not be in a WiFi zone, nor do any inconvenient pairing. Additionally, other apps can utilize it for other purposes... perhaps file transfer with other brands of phones?

Accessories talk to iPhone (and vice versa)
Plus, accessory makers can now make an app to control an accessory from the iPod touch or iPhone. For example, if your blood pressure thingy is compatible with an iPhone, you can connect it to one and you'll be able to see your blood pressure displayed and you can send that data over to your doctor. Or, maybe you can connect it through Bluetooth if you don't like wires.

Where do I really go to get to Point B?
Next, Google Maps can now be embedded into apps so the full app can be used within a third-party app. Additionally, a framework called CoreLocation can now support turn-by-turn directions for GPS or triangulation, but developers have to make their own maps due to licensing issues. This will make driving to several destinations easier, but unluckily for us, we don't have any Philippine maps that are up-to-date.
Developers can put Google Maps in their apps.

Specific turn-by-turn directions help you cut through traffic.

Broken Promises Made Up For
Now here's one thing people have been a waiting for over a year for: Push notifications. Apple hasn't delivered that with 2.0 last year, so now, well, Forstall acknowledges the error and promises Push notifications for the new firmware. Why not background processes, developers ask? Well, battery life wasn't good that way so push notifications became Apple's workaround for better battery life. Plus, performance will not be affected as much. Let's hope Apple's claims are true though, and that the Apple Push server won't get overloaded. This will be great for IM apps.

Miscellaneous Developer Features
Oh, and I have a good feeling about iPod library access. Rhythm games...... plus voice chat during games! Consumers obviously will say 'Meh', but this is a big deal for developers.
Now Forstall invites several developers from EA, Meebo, Johnsons and Johnsons, ngmoco:) etc. to demo the iPhone 3.0 features.

"Taking care of puppies in the morning, fragging n00bs at night" (Impressions of select demoed apps)
1) The Sims 3 iPhone looks great and it was just programmed in 2 weeks, but oh crap, you're gonna have to pay real money to buy new objects! Rip-off!
The former involves a Sim dancing around to the iPhone's music library, the latter shows off the in-game store.

2) ESPN's app looks great for sports fans who want to see results and the highlights of a game. They demo the iPhone's new video streaming standard.
The quality of the game's highlights are automatically adjusted depending on the bandwidth.

3) And how about that LifeScan glucose meter? It's an app made for diabetics who want to check their glucose and food intake through just the iPhone and an iPhone compatible LifeScan accessory. Pretty nice.

4) Oh, and ngmoco:)'s LiveFire FPS... how will the controls be implemented?
The iPhone OS 3.0 also helps game developers make the iPhone a more credible gaming platform.

5) Leaf Trombone... well, not a big fan of developer smule's Ocarina app but lolz, Phantom of the Opera is the song being demonstrated by the two men from smule, and they look... funny. Two people blowing into an iPhone and just shifting the pitch, it's just... lol.
To your left you'll see the Phantom, and to your right you'll see Christine.

1) Cut Copy and Paste - Finally. How to do it? Well, you can double tap some text (or if you want a block of text, just expand the end point/s) and a bubble will appear. Just double tap the part where you want to paste the text and click Paste. Done. More elegant than Clippy, I'm sure. And yes, SMS and Photos can also be copied and pasted. Third-party apps will have support for it as well.

Jailbroken iPhone? Hell no.

2) Undo/Redo - You can shake the device to summon a dialog box that lets you Undo or Redo some erratic typing. This is prolly gonna be a nice feature for those photo editing apps.

3) Landscape typing - Typing E-mails, Notes and SMS (or pretty much anywhere) is a bit less of a pain because people can now type in that format if they so choose.

4) Messages - SMS has been renamed into a more user-friendly "Messages", and they can now be individually deleted and forwarded, thank God. Plus, MMS support has FINALLY been added. Now photos, vCards (contacts), audio, videos and locations can be sent through MMS instead of E-mail. While I don't use MMS much, I'm still happy that Apple whiners and haters can take a break from making fun of the lack of these oh-so basic features.
Can't you help but point and laugh at the two photos above?

5) Voice Memos - An all new app that should've been built-in since the first iPhone, voice memos can now help people create memos using the microphone (or external mic's). The app looks gorgeous, too.

6) Calendar Syncing - Various Calendaring standards are now supported by the Calendar app and iTunes.

7) System-wide Search - Apple finally gives the users a search feature which is pretty much a mobile version of Mac OS X's Spotlight which searches all major apps for specific information by just flicking to the left of the home screen. This will be very much convenient, especially for people who download loads of apps.

8) Shake to shuffle - I knew it. The gimmicky feature first appeared in the iPod nano, and like that device, it'll probably take a vigorous shake before it gets activated- perfect for runners.

9) Stereo Bluetooth - Yup. A2DP right here. Score 1 for Apple's geek rep.

10) Anti-phishing - More mobile security for mobile Safari

11) YouTube accounts - Yes, I can now log-in to my account straight from the dedicated YouTube app!

12) Auto-fill - You can now worry less about dealing with the virtual keyboard as this Safari feature will enable users to fill out forms with the generic information in one click (or in the iPhone's case, touch).
More than a hundred new features, and a thousand new API's can now be downloaded if you're an iPhone developer. Yep, the iPhone 3.0 beta is available on the Apple site today for developers. The final version of iPhone 3.0 will be released in "summer" for free with all the iPhone's (although Stereo Bluetooth and MMS won't be supported due to hardware limitations) and iPhone 3G owners and 10 dollars for iPod touch owners- yes, both generations.

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