On Tuesday Apple announced its latest update to the iPhone OS, which adds over 100 new features to the iPhone. While some of these features, such as cut-and-paste, were desperately needed. But the iPhone 3.0 software update still lacks the functionality and flexibility of its competitors such as Android phones and the BlackBerry. The Apple iPhone 3.0 software is available to members of the iPhone Developer Program today. The software will ship this summer free to iPhone owners and iPod Touch customers who will have to shell out $10.
A year ago, Apple announced its native software developer kit, which gave developers the same APIs (application program interface) and tools Apple itself uses. The next generation of the native SDK has 1000 more APIs to make iPhone 3.0 apps even easier to create; this, in turn, should give developers more creative freedom.
Push, But No Multitasking
One of the new APIs is push notification--something iPhone users were promised last year, but it never materialized. Apple said that a large number of developers came to them and presented ideas of how to build the push notification API. The response was so overwhelmingly great that Apple realized it had to completely re-architect what it planned for push notification, and make it scalable to work with many other applications.
Unfortunately, iPhone 3.0 software will not support background processing -- a big disappointment. The reason? It decreases battery life and performance, Apple said today. Apple stated that background processing doesn't let the iPhone go to sleep and doesn't let it operate at lowest power. They also said that background processing chews up CPU cycles, so it's slowing down the foreground app. Apple is already working with third party developers, like Meebo, ESPN and Oracle, to incorporate push notifications into their apps.
One of the biggest draws of Palm's webOS and the Android OS is its ability to multitask via background processing. Push notification isn't enough and won't allow the flexibility and functionality that webOS and Android allow. Some applications need some sort of awareness when they're not running, like IM or e-mail, for example.
Apple points to its own testing to back up its claims of why its approach is better. The company says it tested background processing on BlackBerry, Windows Mobile, and Android handsets and found that standby battery life dropped by 80 percent or more by having the background process on. On the iPhone, standby battery life decreased only by 23 percent with push notification. But Apple needs to conserve battery life because heavy users will blow through battery life faster with background processing--and they won't be able to have an extra battery in their pocket, like with the Pre or other handsets that have removable batteries.