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Apple and gadget junkies are in techno-purgatory today playing with the iPhone’s just released iOS 4 software more than a day before they can get their hands on the new iPhone 4. The verdict? Wait and see.
What we know about iOS 4
For a detailed and comprehensive overview of iOS 4, check out mobile media maven Ben Patterson’s take in his Yahoo! News blog.
For starters, anyone with a 3G or 3GS iPhone or more recent iPod touch edition (second or third generation), should invest the half hour or so it takes to download Apple’s new mobile operating software. Of course, the biggest new feature of iOS 4 - multi-tasking - is only applicable for a few apps and best performed on an iPhone 3Gs. Multitasking in landscape mode, however, does not offer a sound visual experience, as the screen incorrectly displays app icons. Ars Technica’s Infinite Loop lists more notable shortcomings that come with iOS 4.
After Thursday, previous iPhone models will feel more like a Walkman (or Betamax) than the technological breakthrough of the 21st Century.
Among the app pioneers already configured for the iOS4 are Pandora Radio, Zagat To Go and Tweetaholic. Expect a wave of thousands of additional apps to update for iOS 4 in the days and weeks ahead.
Additional features including app folders for easier categorization, threaded email discussions, and the ability to make iTunes playlists on the go are also on full display in iOS 4.
What we will soon learn
Of course, the genius of Apple and the company’s ability to profit from the “psychology of scarcity” is its knack for saving the best features for its newest and shiniest toys.
When Steve Jobs noted earlier this month at the WWDC that some features of iOS 4 will only be fully revealed on the iPhone 4, you can bet the farm that he was referring to more than just a superficial wallpaper toy or some modest improvements in taking pictures.
The iPhone 4, more than the iPad released less than three months ago, is now the newest frontier in creative development. The iOS 4 is the platform for application developers to push through the boundaries of gaming, music and multimedia distribution. Their resources logically will be focused on the most technically advanced device.
The 360 degree functionality of the iPhone 4’s gryoscope, for instance, will literally bring new dimensions to how games are played and developed. The HDTV-like visual clarity of the new device will not only provide for a more enjoyable experience for consumers, but also forge new wrinkles for creative application development that we cannot yet fathom.
So while the iOS 4 is an exciting opening act, the real show begins this Thursday. Stay tuned.
Josh Fliegel contributed to this article.