Tag Archives | Apple iOS
Compared to most cell-phone software upgrades, Apple’s updates to its iOS (née iPhone OS) are low on suspense and uncertainty. You don’t need to sit around wondering if your device will run iOS 4, and when your carrier might make it available–if you’ve got any iPhone or iPod Touch except the first-generation models, you can do the upgrade yourself. Now. It’s a major advantage of the fact that Apple controls its own hardware, software, and mechanism for delivering OS updates.
Compared to most phone upgrades, though–including previous iPhone ones–iOS 4 is also more the beginning of a process than a self-contained leap forward. Thanks to Apple’s Benjamin Button school of software design, it adds numerous features that feel like bare necessities even though we haven’t had them until now. (My two favorites: the integrated multi-account Mail inbox and the ability to organize apps into Folders.) Apple is finally done feeling filling in major holes, I think–although you may feel free to disagree.
But here’s why iOS 4 feels like the start of something rather than a conclusion: Its flagship feature is unquestionably multitasking, which provides major benefits only when developers enable it by updating their applications. And the OS includes a dizzying 1500 new APIs that provide developers with new capabilities. So about 75 percent of my excitement over iOS 4 involves its potential as a platform, not the features that are available right now. I’m pleased that a Pandora that can play in the background is already here, for instance…but I’ll be more enthused when Slacker can do the same.
In the meantime, my mind is already racing ahead to the features I’d like to see in iOS 5, and I thought I’d record some of them here–and ask you to list the stuff you’re still waiting for. (But let’s not talk about Flash. I’m tired of talking about Flash on the iPhone.)
TechCrunch’s MG Siegler makes a good point: The new features in iOS 4–like multitasking, quick app switching, and folders–are so welcome that they make an old iPhone with the new OS a better productivity tool than a brand-new iPad in some respects. iPads won’t get iOS 4 until the fall; I wonder if Apple has long-term plans to sync up the schedules so that iPhones, iPods Touch, and iPads all get updates at the same time?
Apple has enabled downloads of the iPhone’s software update. More thoughts soon–let us know what you think…