With some 100 plus new features, Apple's latest iPhone 3.0 beta should help make the world's most advanced mobile OS even a lot more advanced, but the question is: will it still be enough to take on the likes of the Pre and the rest of the competition?
It certainly will go a long way in giving the iPhone a lot of the features that many feel it should have had from the very beginning, including the most requested feature -- cut, copy and paste, but clearly the competition is starting to catch up and Apple will need to keep on it's toe's if it wish's to stay on top of the smart phone market.
The iPhone OS 3.0 beta, by virtue of it's over 1,000 new API's, should greatly help enable developers to write some fantastic new programs by using it's newest and more advanced features. Features such as: Shake to shuffle, Audio/Video tags, Notes Sync, YouTube subscriptions, Languages, VPN on demand, Parental controls, Auto-fill, Call log, Encrypted Profiles, Stereo Bluetooth, iTunes account creation and new Anti-phising, among others Hopefully, the new beta will result in some of these developers releasing new apps that takes advantages of these features by the time OS 3.0 is officially released this summer?
More of these features, as listed by Engadget, include the following:
App and developer functionality (more here)
- Peer-to-peer connectivity over Bluetooth for gaming and other info-swapping.
- Paid apps will have the potential to be subscription fee-based, and can include optional paid content that can be bought from right inside the app.
- Developers can now build apps that call out to Google Maps, and can also finally bring Apple-blessed turn-by-turn to the phone.
- Devs can also connect with hardware accessories over in their apps now, such as a blood pressure monitor -- or perhaps a keyboard? Connectivity works through the dock connector or over Bluetooth.
- Long-promised push functionality will at last be included, but apps won't run in the background.
- Developers can add streaming video and audio to their apps, along with in-game voice use.
- Cut, copy and paste. At last! You can shake the phone to undo and redo the action, and it works with both text and photos, allowing Mail to send multiple photos at a time. (more here)
- MMS, along with forward and delete for multiple messages. (more here)
- A2DP stereo Bluetooth.
- Unlocked Bluetooth functionality on 2G iPod touch. (more here)
- Spotlight has been added to a new home screen page to the left of existing pages, allowing for universal search on the phone. (more here)
- Tethering is built into 3.0, and Apple will work with carriers on that -- who will have the last say on its implementation, most likely.
- App Store will be available in 77 countries.
- Parental controls for TV shows, movies and App Store apps.
- Auto-login for WiFi hotspots.
- A new app called Voice Memos which lets you record notes and reminders.
- A revised Stocks app, with news stories and a landscape view.
- Landscape view available for Mail, Text and Notes.
- CalDAV support has been added to Calendar, along with subscriptions support in the .ics format.
- Apple's major apps have all been expanded with search functionality.
- Note syncing to Mac and PC.
- YouTube account support.
- Form auto-fill.
- Phishing protection.
- Shake the shuffle iPod playback.
Well, all-in-all, I feel that the new beta software certainly shows a lot of promise, but the big question is: will it be enough to fend off the competition, which has taken a lot of clues from the iPhone itself to build their own iPhone like devices, that in some cases actually surpass Apple's original in functionality, at least in certain specific areas? The biggest challenger yet, and one that has dared to directly challenge the iPhone's collection of multi-touch patents, is the new and highly praised Palm Pre.
I'm really, really curious as to what Apple will do once the Pre hits the streets - will it sue Palm for patent infringement? And secondarily, if it does - will it succeed? Palm, on it's part, seems to feel that it's on safe ground, but if that is indeed the case, then surely every other mobile OEM should also be free to copy every single iPhone multi-touch feature as well, thus eliminating not only any advantage for the iPhone, but for the Pre itself!
Of course, what the OS 3.0 event didn't reveal was any new iPhone hardware, or any glimpse of a possible Apple netbook or touch tablet. That didn't happen, but it's obvious that the new OS beta is one that holds a lot of promise of turning the iPhone into a much, much more serious contender as a business phone. I would think, that after watching the keynote (seen here), that Apple is going to match it's newest OS to newer and much more business friendly hardware. Will that include a slide-out physical keyboard? I don't know, but if they are smart (and I think that they are) they had better well consider it, at least as an add-on option! Frankly, it really doesn't matter what Apple wants or likes, but rather what matters is that Apple focus's on giving it's customers what it wants and likes, and clearly that, for most business users, is having a physical keyboard!
Apple has given us a glimpse of the future with it's OS 3.0 beta software, and that in turn, has given us a wee glimpse of the next iPhone itself, and one that I'm pretty certain should be more than able to take on the likes of the Pre and the rest of the competition? After all, the iPhone's biggest trump card - it's AppStore, is something that no one else, including the Pre, can't even begin to touch with their cheap copy cat app stores. I simply don't see how the Pre (which isn't capable of handling iPhone like games), or how anyone else is going to be able to snatch the smart phone crown from the iPhone, or by replacing it as the world's most innovative, most exciting, and the world's most desirable smart phone, anytime soon!
Someday, maybe? But not today!
And that's my 2 cents 4 this Wednesday, March 18, 2009