iPhone OS 4.0: Multitasking, Folders, iBooks, iAds and More Coming This Summer

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I think I speak for everyone at Cult of Mac when I say that the last hour has been incredibly exciting. I didn’t expect much from a small, post-iPad event about iPhone OS 4.0: multitasking and iAds, sure, but I still expected it to be something of a snoozer.

Instead, Apple blew my socks off. iPhone OS 4.0 is a huge game changer… and it’s a massive challenge not just to Google’s Android operating system, but their whole mobile advertising business.

When Jobs took the stage, he promised the presentation would touch upon seven “tentpoles” of iPhone OS 4.0. Here’s a short breakdown of each.

Multitasking — Apple claims they’ve finally figured out a way to do true app multitasking in iPhone OS without draining the battery, and it all has to do with pairing down multitasking function to a few core APIs: background audio (Pandora), VOIP (Skype) , persistent location, push notifications, local notifications (e.g. a to-do list program) and task completion (allowing the state of an app to be stored when a user switches out). It’s not true multitasking, but for all intents and purposes, this is good enough.

Folders — Apps can now be stored in folders, maximizing the number of apps that can be installed on any iPhone OS 4.0 device to over 1,000. Just drag one app on top of another to start the folder.

Wallpaper — Not a big one, but it’s nice: in iPhone OS 4.0, you can control your wall paper on both the home screen and lock screen.

Enhanced Mail Application — Mail now gets a unified inbox, multiple Exchange account support, fast inbox switching, threaded messages and the ability to launch attachments with third party apps. iPhone Mail just got as full featured as it is on your Mac.

iBooks — The iPhone OS 4.0 now has iBooks, just like the iPad. The best part of this is that your pages read and bookmarks will be synced automatically across multiple devices, just like on the Kindle. So, for example, if you leave the house without your iPad, you can carry on reading your book on your iPhone from your last page read, seamlessly.

Social Gaming Network — Think Xbox Live for the iPhone: you’ll now be able to use your iPhone to challenge friends to multiplayer games, automatically match you with people who want to play the game you’re playing online, earn achievements and compete on leaderboards.

iAds — Finally, there’s iAds. This is a big deal: unhappy with the disruptive way that mobile advertisements yank users out of the experience of using an app, iAds will allow advertisers to develop truly interactive ads that will work within an app to put the product or service pitch across. Even better: 60% of the revenue will go to app developers who program the functionality into their programs. This is huge: Apple’s joined the mobile advertising game, but side-stepped challenging Google directly by fighting the war in apps, not on the web… and the developers have just been given a strong reason to make as many of their apps as possible totally free. This is a win not only for Apple and its developers, but for users as well.

iPhone OS 4.0 will be available in the summer. If you’ve got an iPhone 3Gs or iPod Touch 3rd Generation, everything will work, but you’ll get limited new functionality on earlier models. They had to drop support sometime.

Thoughts? Let us know in the comments.

[image via Gizmodo]

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