Apple announces iPhone OS updates

Apple has shown off the new features in the upcoming iPhone OS 3.0.

Apple has shown off the new features in the upcoming iPhone OS 3.0. Overall, 1,000 new application programming interfaces are being made available, the company said as it announced new functionality at a press event on Tuesday.

Background processes will still not be allowed because they "drain battery". However, push notifications are now being introduced as a relatively power-efficient alternative, Apple claims. This will be useful for, say, instant messaging applications. Oracle's software development manager, Hody Crouch, also demonstrated how the same background notifications system could be used to show when Oracle Business Systems has a new alert.

Three new business models for app developers will be supported via "in-app purchase": subscriptions, additional levels, and new content. This is great news for application developers who want to sell up users within their application – game devs and publishing houses will be particularly interested in this. Free apps will however not offer in-app purchase, so the try-and-buy business model is not being enabled.

What Apple calls "peer-to-peer gaming" is being enabled over Bluetooth – as is contact sharing. Google Maps can now be embedded in iPhone applications.

A new API is being released for streaming video and audio, and a new media player adjusts the quality of streaming video content according to available bandwidth.

Accessories developers will also be able to write apps for the iPhone that talk to their hardware. For example, an equalisation app can be written for a set of iPhone speakers. According to Scott Forstall, the head of app development for the iPhone, another example would be medical appliances such as blood pressure cuffs that could send readings to the doctor.

Johnson & Johnson's Anita Mathew also appeared, showing off pinprick testing gear – used for blood glucose tests – that could communicate results to a diabetes sufferer's iPhone via Bluetooth, then give recommendations regarding diet and exercise.

UPDATE: Other features included the fabled cut-and-paste, MMS functionality and systemwide search. For the full story, check out our coverage here.

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