Live blog: Apple's iPhone OS event

Live blogging from Apple's iPhone OS announcement at the company's main campus in Cupertino
Written by Sam Diaz, Inactive

I'm here in Cupertino, in a town hall auditorium on Apple's main campus. The doors have just opened and people are still coming in and finding their seats.

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10:03 am: Steve Jobs takes the stage. Wants to share iPhone OS 4 today - but first a few updates. Jobs is talking about positive reviews for the iPad.

10:05 a.m.: On Day One, the company sold about 300,000 iPads. As of today, that number is now about 450,000. They're making them as fast as they can, he says. As for iBooks, users downloaded more than 250,000 iBooks on fist day. Through today, that's now 600,000. First day, more than 1 million iPad apps were downloaded. As of today, that has grown to 3.5 million apps downloaded.

10:07 a.m.: Here's an app store update. So far, we're at more than 4 billion apps downloaded and, as of today, there are 185,000 apps in the app store. Also, there are more than 3,500 iPad apps available. Steve takes a few minutes to share some screenshots of iPad apps and talk about great gaming and great video on the device.

10:10 a.m.: Now, let's get to the iPhone. Looking at market share, iPhone has a 64 percent mobile browser usage share in the U.S. To date, more than 50 million iPhones sold. Add iPod Touch devices, that's more than 85 million sold.

10:12 a.m.: The company is releasing today a developer preview with 1,500 new APIs, with access to calendar, in-app SMS, photo library, still and video camera data and full map overlays. Also, there are more than 100 full-users features. Users can create playlists on their phones. Users will be able to tap their video to focus. Home screen wallpaper can be changed. Bluetooth keyboards are now accessible and there's 5x digital zoom.

10:14 am: There are 7 "Tentpole" features, he said. The first is multitasking. (Applause). Jobs says they weren't first to this party but will be the best. Jobs says it's easy to implement multitasking to kill battery life and make the device become sluggish. Apple has figured out a way to implement it and reduce those sort of things. It's taken them longer to pull off, but they think they're doing it right. Here comes a demo.

10:18 a.m.: Click and double-click on the home button and users can see the icons of the apps that are open at the bottom of the screen. Jobs says users will notice the ease of how apps switch.

10:19 a.m.: Digging in deeper, we're now talking about multitasking services. Background audio is big. Pandora is pretty popular and changing the way people think about radio. Until now, if you left that app to go to another, the music stopped. And the iPhone's on-screen controls will control the Pandora service, as well. It took Pandora's developers one day to implement the "background audio" feature. An on-stage demo, Pandora Radio is running in the background while the user surfs Web, locks the device or even goes to iTunes to buy the Pandora track playing.

10:24 a.m.: Up next is Voice over IP and we're talking about the Skype app. Until now, if you left the app, the call ended or, if you weren't running the app, you couldn't receive calls. Now, even when you switch to another app, the call stays on. And when the device is locked and the app is not running in the foreground, Skype calls still come in.

10:30 a.m.: Next is background location. There are two classes of apps that want to use your location in the background, like TomTom. Again, if you left the app before, the GPS services stopped. That's no longer the case. The other class of apps is social networking apps like Loopt. GPS can be a power hog and for TomTom, that's OK - it's being used in the car and probably being charged. For others, though, it uses cell towers to provide that location - eliminating the power drain of an always-on GPS. In terms of privacy, the company has the power to control location services by apps. There's also some indicators to give users the knowledge to know when a service is tracking or requesting location services.

10:31 am: Up next is push notifications. The technology has been around for a while. But building on push notifications are local notifications. It doesn't require a server to push that notification to the device.  Next is task completion. There are some apps that take a while to do its thing. Flickr, for example, can now continue uploading pics in the background. And finally, there's fast-app switching, which allows apps to go into a quiet state and not use CPU power and then resume when the user comes back. Those are the seven services of multitasking.

10:35 am: The second tentpole is Folders. We go right into the demo, showing how to use touch control to drag one app onto another so it can instantly make a folder. That folder is also automatically named based on the category of the apps. It's a nice customization feature and will surely help users stay more organized.

10:37 am: A quick demo of how to customize wallpaper for the home screen, the lock screen or both. It's pretty easy and also pretty widespread on other devices - but Jobs has a way of making it look like innovative breakthrough technology from Apple.

10:40 am: The third tentpole is enhanced mail. First up is unified inbox, which also allows more than one Exchange account - a popular request. There's also fast inbox switching so users can hone in on one account. Users can now also organize their emails by thread. And attachments can now be opened with apps.

10:42 am: Tentpole No. 4 is iBooks and e-book reader for the iPhone OS, which means the iPad experience now comes to the iPhone and iPod Touch. There will also be wireless syncing to keep pages and bookmarks in place between devices.

10:44 am: Tentpole No. 5 is features for the enterprise. First is even better data protection with enhanced encryption. Now, we're talking Mobile Device Management so iPhones can also be managed at the enterprise level. Next is wireless app distribution. Now, companies can wirelessly distribute apps to an employee's device. Support for multiple exchange accounts. And SSL VPN support.

10:45 am: Next up is Tentpole No. 6 - Game Center. The company is enhancing with a social gaming experience where users can invite friends. There's also auto matchmaking, finding others at same levels who can play with you. There's also leaderboards (for bragging rights.)

10:48 am: The final tentpole is iAds, mobile advertising. Apple says this is their way of helping developers make some money with their apps. The company didn't really like the ads that developers were putting in their apps and they wanted to make it better. On the Web, search is king but that's not the case on mobile. On mobile, apps are the search tools - like using the Yelp app to find a place to go to dinner. Jobs says users spent 30 minutes per day in apps. If there was an ad every three minutes, that's 10 ads per device per day. Multiply that by the number of devices and you've got 1 Billion potential ad impressions per day. And don't forget how attractive this iPhone audience is. But Apple also wants to make ads better - by including interactivity and bringing "emotion" to the ads (via video), the way they do on TV. Also, the ads keep you in the app. In today's mobile world, a banner ad takes you out of your app and takes you to advertisers web page - a bad experience that keeps people from tapping it. Apple has found a way around that, to keep ads in the app. Apple will host and sell the ads and give developers a 60 percent share of the revenue. Here comes a demo. A Toy Story 3 banner ad at the bottom can take over the screen (done in HTML 5, by the way) and users can "close that screen" to return to the app. But, within the ad takeover page, there are some interactive features - games, video, audio, etc - that can be played within the ad. This is actually a pretty impressive demo - and the use of HTML5 is pretty nice.

11:01 am: Here comes the recap of the seven of the 100 user features and 1,500 developer APIs in iPhone 4. The developer preview is being released today. iPhone and iPod Touch users will see it this summer - for iPhone 3GS and third-generation iPod Touch. For the older devices will run most things but not multitasking - because the hardware can't support it. iPhone OS 4 hits the iPad in the fall.

The press is invited to stay for a Q&A after a short break.


There was a question of the demand on data usage from multitasking and AT&T's ability to handle it. Jobs says he doesn't think the assumption is right - but we'll find out. That's his answer. What about streaming Pandora? He kind of dismisses that, saying that Pandora is not a big data hog; video is the killer. But if you're streaming a video, you're probably not doing other things.

Does wireless app distribution for the Enterprise lead to developers to avoid the app store? Jobs quickly says no. This is strictly for company-built apps for specific devices.

The international launch for iPad is still slated for the end of April. No changes to that schedule.

In terms of hosting ads, will there be an approval process like the app store. Jobs seems stumped and has to think about it. There will probably have to be some of this, just like TV networks do now, but Steve says he hopes there will be no instances where that happens.

Any change to the position on running Java or Flash on iPhone OS 4? No. Next question.

No reason for ad agencies to need a toolkit to build ads for iAds, Jobs says. It's all industry standard stuff - HTML5 and the advertiser's own content, along with a developer who knows how to build them (and they're out there.) Jobs sees this as a new avenue for ad agencies.

What about Twitter or IM timeline chats running in the background? Apple believes push notification is better for those services. The app, however, can take you back to the Twitter feed and then bring in updates when you go back. Apple says the experience will be far better than today because the app won't "quit" and then have to reload.

The iAds potential is very new and unique to the iPhone. Jobs admits that Apple is new to advertising - and that Google "came in and snatched" AdMob from them. They have no intention to become a worldwide advertising company. But there is some excitement about these sort of in-app ads because they are unique to mobile apps and different from anything on an PC.

What is Apple doing to discourage distracted driving now that there's all of these new features? Jobs says they company has done a lot to integrate the experience into the car, integrating controls into the car itself and voice dialing. But there wasn't much of an answer beyond that.

What about revenue opportunities for iAds for Apple? Jobs says this is not a get-rick-quick-scheme for Apple. This is for the developers, who will get 60 percent of the revenue.

Why not let unsigned apps into iPhone - the way you can on other devices (albeit with some settings adjustments.) Jobs says there's a porn store for Android that anyone can get to, including children. That's a road that Apple doesn't want to go down. End of story.

Any surprises by the reactions of the iPad launch? The feedback, Jobs said, has been off-the-charts and that the iPad is a major game changer. What's been amazing is how quickly people "get it." Some reviewers are gimmes - these folks follow this space - but "regular people" are already understanding how significant it is.

Users don't have to worry about "closing" apps. The company said, with the release of the iPad, if there's a device that needs a stylus, they blew it. Same goes with task management. If the device needs a task manager, they blew it.

That's it. We're all done here.

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Previous coverage: Apple's iPhone OS event: What to expect

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