Apple senior vice president of iPhone software Scott Forstall used Monday’s WWDC keynote with the news that iPhone users have waited months to hear: The new iPhone 3.0 OS will be released on June 17, 2009.
iPhone 3.0 will be a free release for all iPhone customers — both original iPhone users and iPhone 3G users will be able to download it at no charge once it’s released. iPod touch customers can download the new release for $10, and it will work on first- and second-generation iPod touch models.
And iPhone software developers will be able to download the new release on Monday — it’s gone “golden master” today.
Forstall used most of his time to talk about and show off some of the 100 new features in iPhone OS 3.0, many of which were first discussed at a press event in Cupertino last March. He was aided by a long parade of iPhone developers who showed off their latest wares.
Many of the new features in iPhone 3.0 have been talked about before — Cut, Copy, and Paste, for example. Landscape mode in all key applications, including Mail, Notes and Messages. Spotlight support across the entire device, and ubiquitous searching. Peer-to-peer Bluetooth-based multiplayer gaming, push notification, in-app store support and other capabilities factored into demonstrations showing off iPhone 3.0’s new features, as well.
Forstall also delved deeper into some capabilities in the new operating system, and took a couple of digs at Apple’s United States cellular partner, AT&T, in the process.
Multimedia Messaging Support (MMS) has been, since the iPhone’s first release, a common request from iPhone users and people considering a switch to an iPhone — it’s a capability many cell phone users take for granted.
Unfortunately, it appears that iPhone users in the United States will be waiting longer for MMS than some other areas. Forstall noted that while iPhone OS 3.0 is capable of MMS, it requires carrier support to implement. Twenty-nine carriers in 76 countries will support MMS at the time of iPhone 3.0’s launch, according to Forstall. AT&T, Apple’s U.S. carrier partner, isn’t among them, at least not initially. AT&T will be ready to support MMS “later this summer,” according to Forstall. That news elicited boos from the crowd.
Tethering is another feature without AT&T. Tethering describes the ability for a Mac or PC to share the iPhone’s Internet connection. This feature is especially handy for mobile travelers who don’t want to be tied to the limited range of a Wi-Fi hotspot, and who haven’t purchased a 3G data card for their laptop. Especially given the absence of ExpressCard expansion slots on Apple’s refreshed 15-inch MacBook Pro line, this will be a bone of contention for some users.
iPhone 3.0’s tethering works over USB or Bluetooth, and works on Mac OS X and Windows. But in another slight to AT&T, Apple listed dozens of carriers that will support this feature, and AT&T was notably absent from the list.
“Find My Phone” is a new feature in iPhone 3.0 that helps you locate your iPhone if you’ve misplaced it. It’s specifically for MobileMe cusotmers — you can log in to MobileMe and it will show you where you left your phone. You can send a message to the phone, and it will play an alert, even if you left the phone in silent mode. What’s more, remote wipe isn’t a feature just for system administrators anymore — “Find My Phone” can erase all your data, if your iPhone falls into the wrong hands.
The new iPhone OS supports HTTP-based streaming audio and video that will pick the right bit-rate depending on your phone’s data connection quality. Autofill has been added for the Mobile Safari software, to save you from having to fill out forms manually.
Another hotly-anticipated capability for the iPhone is turn-by-turn GPS-based directions. To that end, TomTom demonstrated an iPhone 3.0 application that deliers real TomTom navigation on the iPhone. What’s more, the software also works with a cradle device that suction-cups to your vehicle’s window. It’s more than just a holder — it securely docks the iPhone, and can enhance the iPhone’s GPS capabilities, and give you hands-free calling capabilities, power and a loudspeaker. TomTom plans to release both this summer, with a range of maps.