Apple announced an update to the iPhone operating system at one of its love feasts in Cupertino today. The update will be available this summer as a free upgrade for the iPhone 3G, and for $9.95 for the iPod touch.
Top of the wish list was fulfilled with Cut/Copy and Paste, finally streamlining the OS with a feature that's been in Windows and Macintosh since their beginnings. The system will work by double-tapping or dragging across text, selecting cut, copy or paste in the bubble above it, and then using a similar routine to paste it into another place, or across applications.
What else is new in the upcoming iPhone OS 3.0?
Search: Last year Apple added search for contacts, and now there will be the ability to search your email, calendars, iTunes, and notes. Also added will be Spotlight, letting you search across the iPhone for a keyword.
MMS: the widely adopted Multimedia Messaging System will now work on the iPhone, letting you attach photos or audio clips to text messages for instant, you-are-there fun. You can also forward and delete messages.
Stereo Bluetooth: Inexplicably missing on the iPhone, now you'll be able to listen to stereo music over Bluetooth. Still missing: wireless synching via Bluetooth. The bad news? This stereo Bluetooth goodness and MMS won't work on iPhone 1.0.
Landscape typing in Apple Apps: Now you can turn your iPhone on its side and type with a larger touchscreen keyboards, a feature that was available in some situations but not in email. Finally.
Voice Memo: Record yourself a voice message, play it back easily.
Modified Google Maps application: now lets developers use Google Maps in their apps. But the big news is this will allow "turn-by-turn" applications, bringing GPS navigation to the iPhone. However, because of licensing issues, developers will be required to provide the maps.
Multiplayer connectivity: The iPhone will automagically discover other iPhones running the same app, and you can play games with them. Welcome to the social.
Accessories communication: Apps will be allowed to communicate with external accessories, such as a blood pressure cuff, FM tuner, or equalization for a docked speaker.
Push Notification: While Apple promised one-way background functionality ("push notification") last year but never delivered, Apple's SVP of iPhone software Scott Forstall says he means it this time.
No Background Processing: Apple tried running background processes on the iPhone, but the battery life was reduced by 80%, and there was a significat performance hit. That's why they're going with push notification, a one-way process that lets you know when you've received a message but requires you to open the application to respond.
New Apps: ESPN showed a streaming video application that also takes advantage of the iPhone's push capability, notifying users of sports scores. Electronic Arts demonstrated its The Sims 3 game, flaunting the iPhone's clean playback and animation capabilities. And, you can buy stuff within apps.
What's Missing: Still no support for Flash video and applications in Safari. No tethering, the ability to use the iPhone's 3G connection to get online with your laptop. Even though Apple says it's "supporting tethering on the client side," its providers aren't playing ball just yet. No video recording.