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Apple to Add Multitasking, Ads & Other Features to iPhone

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(Cupertino, Calif.) Apple CEO Steve Jobs announced that Apple will finally add multitasking to the iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad. Third party developers will be able to program their apps to run in the background.

Apple also announced a new advertising platform for developers called iAp. Ads can run inside applications with video and interactive features.

Music and navigation in background

During the press conference held at Apple headquarters this morning, Jobs invited Pandora CEO Tim Westergard on stage to show that Pandora online radio can play in background while other apps are running. Jobs also announced that the iPhone users will be able to pick up internet phone calls from Skype and voice applications that can run in the background. The iPhone will also support background GPS navigation so you can be using a navigation program while talking on the phone or doing other tasks. Apps can ask for your location but the new operating system will give users the choice on an app by app basis.

Apple is also adding background notifications for third parties including a new service called local notifications that doesn't require a server. Apps can running on phone can notify you from the phone

Task completion: Some apps, said Jobs, take awhile to complete tasks, but with the new OS, they will be able to do things like uploading photos in the background even after you switch away from the program.

Folders: Apple will make it easier to organize apps by creating folders on the iPhone desktop. Just drag one app on top of another and it makes a folder. It automatically names the folder but you can rename it. This can be extremely useful for people who have a lot of apps. I sometimes have trouble finding Apps on my iPhone's home screen.

Enhanced Mail: Apple will offer a unified inbox so you can have multiple email accounts with all incoming mail in one inbox. You can also have multiple Exchange accounts and you can move between multiple inboxes if you prefer. It will also be possible to organize mail by thread. Apple has also added the ability to open mail attachments with apps. I wonder whether this could lead to security issues of the possible spread of malicious code via email.

iBooks will be added to the iPhone similar to what is now on the iPad. Of course it's long been possible to read Amazon Kindle books on iPhone.

There are some features for enterprises including email encryption and better mobile device management tools. Businesses will be able to distribute custom apps wirelessly from their own servers. Apple has also added support for Exchange Server 2010

Game Center: Apple is adding a social gaming network. You can challenge your friends or find others to play with you. There will be a leader board to see how you're doing compared to others.

iAd: iPhone will have an adverting platform for developers. Some aps now have ads but Jobs says most of the time "it really sucks." He said that the iAd feature will be a more elegant solution. Jobs says that most people are using apps rather than a search engine on iPhones and sees apps, not search as the best way to deliver ads. He said that the average iPhone user spends over 30 minutes a day using apps. Apple, said Jobs, wants to improve the quality of ads to make it easier to deliver an "emotional advertising"as is now possible with TV. The goal is also to be even more interactive than web advertising. Today when you click on an ad it takes you out of the app which keeps people from clicking. With iAd they will deliver interactive video content without taking you out of app. Jobs said that there is "an opportunity to make "a billion ad impressions a day" which he says is a "fairly large number."

Apple will sell and host ads and give developers 60% of the revenue. Jobs showed off a prototype of a Disney Toy Story ad (developed by Apple, not Disney) that includes a game, posters and video. It's very interactive., You can even buy games from within the ad. Jobs calls it "an example of a new kind of mobile ad." When you're done with the ad, you click an "x" can go back to the ap.

This notion of apps being more powerful than search for delivering ads is kind of a dig at Google. Jobs said that the iPhone is the first time in history where there have been so many (185,000) aps on the desktop. He says that's not true with personal computers and accounts for why user behavior is so different.

Apple plans to release the operating system to the iPhone and iPod Touch users this summer and for the iPad in the fall. Some features, including multitasking, will not be available on first and second generation iPod and iPhone devices.

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