Summary: Apple showcases iPhone 4.0 features

Apple gave iPhone users and developers a sneak preview of the next major version of the iPhone operating system on Thursday. Multitasking capabilities, changes to the Mail application, and a built-in advertising system highlight the features that make up iPhone OS 4.0.

Read Macworld’s live coverage of the iPhone 4.0 preview

Developers could get their hands on a preview of the 4.0 update on Thursday. Users will have to wait until at least the summer. When the iPhone 4.0 update ships, iPhone 3GS and third-generation iPod touch users will be able to take advantage of all the features, while second-generation iPod touch and iPhone 3G models will only support some of the update’s enhancements. iPhone 4.0 won’t be available for the newly released iPad until the fall.

When the iPhone 4.0 update does arrive, it will introduce 1500 new application programming interfaces (APIs) for developers and more than 100 new user features, including playlist creation, 5x digital zoom in the camera app, tap-to-focus for video, auto photo-geotagging, and support for Bluetooth keyboards. But during Thursday’s preview, Apple focused on seven new aspect that it called “tentpole” features: multitasking, folders, Mail improvements, iBooks for the iPhone, enhancements for business users, a social gaming network, and iAd.

Learn more about iPhone 4.0’s tentpole features

As for iAds, that’s Apple’s new advertising platform designed specifically for the iPhone OS. iAd allows developers to include ads directly into their apps; the ads, written using the HTML5 standard, are designed to provide a rich promotional environment, complete with what are essentially mini apps-inside-the-app.

Learn more about Apple’s iAd advertising platform

While the iPhone OS took center stage during Thursday’s live event, Apple also briefly addressed the iPad, noting that it’s sold 450,000 devices since the tablet went on sale less than a week ago. The iPad is also driving growth in the App Store—users have downloaded 3.5 million iPad apps, with the total number of downloads from the store passing the 4 billion mark.

Read more on Apple’s iPad sales announcement

Apple unveiled a developer preview of Game Center, a new social gaming platform for iPhone OS 4. With Game Center, Apple has finally acknowledged what people have known for over two years: Apple is a player in the gaming market.

Read more on Apple’s Game Center

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