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#331764 - 05/04/2010 14:34 iPhone OS 4
drakino
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Registered: 08/06/1999
Posts: 7868
Loc: Seattle, WA
iPhone OS 4 reveal on April 8th. Historically, Apple ran these preview events in March. Seems their yearly major OS update schedule is still mostly on track, with just a slight delay due to getting the iPad out the door.

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#331768 - 05/04/2010 15:01 Re: iPhone OS 4 [Re: drakino]
andym
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Registered: 17/01/2002
Posts: 3979
Loc: Manchester UK
So what do people think the biggest change will be?

I'm going for some kind of multitasking and probably more bluetooth features.
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#331770 - 05/04/2010 15:04 Re: iPhone OS 4 [Re: andym]
bonzi
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Registered: 13/09/1999
Posts: 2401
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Originally Posted By: andym
So what do people think the biggest change will be?

I'm going for some kind of multitasking and probably more bluetooth features.

I wouldn't mind a normal file system, either...
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#331774 - 05/04/2010 17:25 Re: iPhone OS 4 [Re: andym]
andy
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Registered: 10/06/1999
Posts: 5794
Loc: Wivenhoe, Essex, UK
I expect there to be some significant changes to app management. I would also not be surprised if there was some sort of addition of data to the unlock screen.

I'd be amazed if some sort of third party app backgrounding wasn't unveiled. I'd expect some sort of scheme were apps can register services that run separate to the main app and can respond to system events. I doubt very much that full apps will get to run in the background.
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#331777 - 05/04/2010 18:39 Re: iPhone OS 4 [Re: andy]
andym
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Registered: 17/01/2002
Posts: 3979
Loc: Manchester UK
Originally Posted By: andy
I would also not be surprised if there was some sort of addition of data to the unlock screen.

You mean like upcoming appointments and stuff like that? It's the one thing my crappy work WinMo phone does that I like.
Originally Posted By: andy
I'd be amazed if some sort of third party app backgrounding wasn't unveiled. I'd expect some sort of scheme were apps can register services that run separate to the main app and can respond to system events. I doubt very much that full apps will get to run in the background.

Me neither, some kind of simple task manager/switcher would be better than nothing. There's only really a handful of apps I can think of that actually 'need' to carry on running in the background. Most could simply save their state, free up resources (if possible) and then go to sleep until they're required again.
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#331778 - 05/04/2010 18:43 Re: iPhone OS 4 [Re: andym]
DWallach
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Registered: 30/04/2000
Posts: 3728
Some sort of background app support would be magical for Pandora users, but Apple doesn't seem terribly invested in helping companies compete with the iTunes Store via alternative music revenue models. The only other weakness that pisses me off on a regular basis is the fixed nature of the web browser. I want browser plugins, whether that means AdBlock or bookmarklets, or whatever else.

Meanwhile, has anybody else noticed, if you haven't used your iPhone for a few hours or overnight or whatnot that, when you wake it up and start using it again, it's really, really sluggish for a while? If there were a hard drive in there, I'd think it was swapping things back in from disk, but there isn't and, presumably, it's not. Maybe Apple will have some sort of fix for that? Or maybe it's just me.

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#331780 - 05/04/2010 18:53 Re: iPhone OS 4 [Re: andym]
Dignan
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Registered: 08/03/2000
Posts: 12145
Loc: Sterling, VA
Originally Posted By: andym
Originally Posted By: andy
I would also not be surprised if there was some sort of addition of data to the unlock screen.

You mean like upcoming appointments and stuff like that? It's the one thing my crappy work WinMo phone does that I like.

Yes, though are you talking about the WinMo desktop that contains that info? If so, that's more akin to widgets than information on the lock screen. He's talking about having that information immediately upon power up from standby, when you're asked to unlock the phone.

Many people are hoping for that, and I think it would be a fantastic idea, something missing from many phones. There are a few apps for Android that do this, but none of them are customizable enough for me.

I think the iPad is what has many people hoping for this, because the large screen suddenly demonstrates how little that lock screen is utilized. Though, frankly, I think it's more important to have that info on iPhone, when very quick glances are what you want.


I wouldn't be surprised by some type of multitasking, though. Josh on the Engadget podcast conjectured that they could make it part of the approval process. Like, if you're making a 3D game, it wouldn't be allowed to run in the background. But if you're making something like a tasks or IM app, that doesn't take many CPU cycles at all, it could be allowed to run in the background while running other somewhat non-tasking apps.
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#331783 - 05/04/2010 20:28 Re: iPhone OS 4 [Re: Dignan]
andym
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Registered: 17/01/2002
Posts: 3979
Loc: Manchester UK
Originally Posted By: Dignan
Originally Posted By: andym
Originally Posted By: andy
I would also not be surprised if there was some sort of addition of data to the unlock screen.

You mean like upcoming appointments and stuff like that? It's the one thing my crappy work WinMo phone does that I like.

Yes, though are you talking about the WinMo desktop that contains that info? If so, that's more akin to widgets than information on the lock screen. He's talking about having that information immediately upon power up from standby, when you're asked to unlock the phone.

Yes, I've not used the lock screen on my work phone for years, partly because the touchscreen on it is so crap, it made it very difficult to just prod the code in with your finger, unlike the iPhone. So it's always the first thing I see on the phone when it wake it up.
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#331876 - 08/04/2010 02:26 Re: iPhone OS 4 [Re: andym]
drakino
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Registered: 08/06/1999
Posts: 7868
Loc: Seattle, WA
Now that I own an iPhone, an iPad, and a Mac, I'm really hoping iPhone OS 4 has something to tie these devices together in a better way. I hinted at my desire to just transition work between devices in the pre launch iPad thread, and it's becoming clear many more people are going to want the same. iWork on the iPad is a disaster if you want to also use a desktop at some point in the process. One of the people on MacBreak Weekly said it seemed like things had gone backwards to the days of floppies and no networks in an office, with everyone trying to manage what revision of a file was where.

Between 4.0, and the massive datacenter Apple is building in NC, I'm hoping they push for a more cloud based experience here to just sync everything.

Outside of that, I'll be really curious to see what 4.0 brings to the iPad. It's clear the device was rushed out the door a bit. The hardware is quite solid, but the Apple software side is a little lacking.
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#331883 - 08/04/2010 10:14 Re: iPhone OS 4 [Re: drakino]
Dignan
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Registered: 08/03/2000
Posts: 12145
Loc: Sterling, VA
Originally Posted By: drakino
Between 4.0, and the massive datacenter Apple is building in NC, I'm hoping they push for a more cloud based experience here to just sync everything.

That's certainly what it sounds like to me. They don't seem keen on having any sort of file system access, so that sort of says "the cloud" to me.
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#331893 - 08/04/2010 15:46 Re: iPhone OS 4 [Re: drakino]
andy
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Registered: 10/06/1999
Posts: 5794
Loc: Wivenhoe, Essex, UK
Looking awesome so far smile
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#331896 - 08/04/2010 16:39 Re: iPhone OS 4 [Re: andy]
drakino
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Registered: 08/06/1999
Posts: 7868
Loc: Seattle, WA
Well, nothing cloud related or sync related, so that's probably farther out then I hoped.

Major points seem to be:
1. Multitasking - Pretty much what was predicted, APIs provided so apps can run background related tasks, instead of having the full app in the background. Pandora can still play music and take over the system media controls, and GPS apps can keep routing users. Switching between apps is a double tap on the home button, and it reveals running apps in a tray that appears at the bottom. Looks very similar to the add a widget to the dashboard interface on OS X. I'm assuming this solves the issue of not being able to hold an SSH session open while referencing a web page, but not 100% certain.

2. Folders for organizing apps. The unique twist here is how it's done. Drag an app onto another one, and it makes a folder, defaulting the name to the category the two apps are in. This bumps the visible app limit from 180 to 2,160.

3. Mail. Unified inbox, fast inbox switching if you still want them separate, multiple Exchange account support (so now people can have gMail via Exchange along with work mail), threaded messages, and much like the iPad, ability to open attachments with third party apps. Unfortunately, still no smart folder support.

4. iBooks. Looks like 4.0 will build it into the OS, and sync page read/bookmarks across devices like the Kindle Whispersync.

5. Enterprise features including better encryption of mail, encryption for app data, and wireless app distribution.

6. Game Center - Think XBox Live, Steam, or Playstation Network. Friends lists, achievements, matchmaking and leaderboards. A few independent parties were doing similar, but very few games used the platforms out there. Apple officially supporting it should mean a lot more games will tie into it.

7. iAd, an advertising platform. This is probably the counter shot for Google entering the phone market. HTML5 based ads, allowing full video, mini games, and so on.

Multitasking is limited to the iPhone 3GS, the newest iPod Touch, and the iPad. The rest of 4.0 will still come out for the 3G and second gen iPod Touch, but no word about the initial iPhone. Looks like this is where the Apple mobile platform fractures a little bit, dumping off the 3 year old devices. Being that people tend to update their phones quicker then every 3 years, shouldn't be too big of a deal there. Will be interesting to see if this pushes people to upgrade their iPods more often though.

I'll be downloading the SDK and beta firmware here shortly, but it looks like it's covered under the standard prerelease NDA, so I won't be able to comment on it.
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#331897 - 08/04/2010 17:15 Re: iPhone OS 4 [Re: drakino]
DWallach
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Registered: 30/04/2000
Posts: 3728
With this take on multitasking, Apple has deprecated the iPhone 3G in my pocket. This summer will be very interesting when it's time to replace it.

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#331898 - 08/04/2010 17:19 Re: iPhone OS 4 [Re: drakino]
Dignan
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Registered: 08/03/2000
Posts: 12145
Loc: Sterling, VA
Originally Posted By: drakino
7. iAd, an advertising platform. This is probably the counter shot for Google entering the phone market. HTML5 based ads, allowing full video, mini games, and so on.

Although some are saying this actually helps Google, who is hoping that this shows there is actual competition in the mobile advertising space, and therefore the FTC should allow them to go through with their acquisition of AdMob.

As for the rest of the announcement, it seems like a good handful of updates, some of which are pretty big. I wouldn't have expected the folders thing, though. I would have thought it was too Android for them. Doesn't that complicate the UI? wink
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#331899 - 08/04/2010 17:59 Re: iPhone OS 4 [Re: DWallach]
andy
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Registered: 10/06/1999
Posts: 5794
Loc: Wivenhoe, Essex, UK
Luckily I was planning on upgrading my 3G this summer anyway wink
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#331902 - 08/04/2010 19:19 Re: iPhone OS 4 [Re: andy]
DWallach
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Registered: 30/04/2000
Posts: 3728
I'm just hoping for a price-war of some sort between Apple and Android in some fashion or another. All those iPhone 3G users coming off their two-year contracts at the same exact time should make for a nice feeding frenzy.

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#331903 - 08/04/2010 19:29 Re: iPhone OS 4 [Re: DWallach]
drakino
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Registered: 08/06/1999
Posts: 7868
Loc: Seattle, WA
Looks like the new developer agreement just took a bit of wind out of the Flash CS5 platform:

http://daringfireball.net/2010/04/iphone_agreement_bans_flash_compiler
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#331905 - 08/04/2010 19:38 Re: iPhone OS 4 [Re: drakino]
wfaulk
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Registered: 25/12/2000
Posts: 16706
Loc: Raleigh, NC US
Wow. That affects a hell of a lot more than Flash. Dictating the languages that applications are allowed to be written in is awfully draconian. (No offense, Tom.)
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#331909 - 08/04/2010 20:30 Re: iPhone OS 4 [Re: wfaulk]
drakino
carpal tunnel

Registered: 08/06/1999
Posts: 7868
Loc: Seattle, WA
Originally Posted By: wfaulk
Dictating the languages that applications are allowed to be written in is awfully draconian. (No offense, Tom.)

It's something that I'm split on. I'll definitely agree it's draconian, and was posting it to point it out, not specifically defending it. But, on the other hand, this isn't really any different then requirements for other closed platforms. When you have a highly specialized platform, and want to present the best performance possible, it's the way to go.

*edit* Thinking long term here, forcing a specific development environment and language does allow Apple to change the underbelly of the devices if necessary without impacting much. Not sure if that is the specific reason here, but by ensuring all apps follow a certain rule, it's much easier to make a future iPad using an Intel processor compared to the current ARM chips. The exact bounds of what the emulation/translation layer need to do are known. But if other compilers are generating code, that becomes much harder.

Seems I am defending it now. Oh well. Just trying to understand the possible motivations here.


Edited by drakino (08/04/2010 20:34)
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#331913 - 08/04/2010 21:01 Re: iPhone OS 4 [Re: drakino]
hybrid8
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Registered: 12/11/2001
Posts: 7738
Loc: Toronto, CANADA
That note about required development platform along with Apple's design patent on the Cover Flow presentation marred an otherwise good day of Apple press.

I see the move with regards to the SDK as an extension of their no interpreted code rule. Basically people like Adobe got smart and instead of running an interpreter on the iPhone, they'd pre-compile. Apple is basically shutting that down with this new language in the SDK.

With regards to the patent.... WTF. The Cover Flow design was around for a couple of years before being acquired by Apple. I know that you have a finite time to patent an invention once you've disclosed it, maybe the same doesn't apply to a design patent? Anyway, more evidence that the patent system needs to go.
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#331918 - 08/04/2010 22:21 Re: iPhone OS 4 [Re: drakino]
wfaulk
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Registered: 25/12/2000
Posts: 16706
Loc: Raleigh, NC US
Originally Posted By: drakino
forcing a specific development environment and language does allow Apple to change the underbelly of the devices if necessary without impacting much

Not really. If I write and compile a program using C, it links against the OS's APIs. If I write the same program using C++, same thing. And it's still the same thing if I write it using Pascal, or Fortran, or Go, or Eiffel, or Caml, or Modula.

This is clearly Apple explicitly trying to limit the features of iPhoneOS, probably to prevent any sort of interpreted or virtual-machine-based constructs, and going at it like using an elephant rifle to kill a gnat.

Just to pick one thing that comes to mind, it means that any Infocom adventure game interpreters (that is, Z-machines, like Frotz) are forbidden.
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#331919 - 08/04/2010 22:39 Re: iPhone OS 4 [Re: wfaulk]
hybrid8
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Registered: 12/11/2001
Posts: 7738
Loc: Toronto, CANADA
Originally Posted By: wfaulk
Just to pick one thing that comes to mind, it means that any Infocom adventure game interpreters (that is, Z-machines, like Frotz) are forbidden.


Always have been.
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#331921 - 08/04/2010 22:42 Re: iPhone OS 4 [Re: wfaulk]
drakino
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Registered: 08/06/1999
Posts: 7868
Loc: Seattle, WA
Originally Posted By: wfaulk
Not really. If I write and compile a program using C, it links against the OS's APIs. If I write the same program using C++, same thing. And it's still the same thing if I write it using Pascal, or Fortran, or Go, or Eiffel, or Caml, or Modula.

But the OS would need APIs for all those languages right? iPhone OS APIs exist only in C, C++ and Objective-C. Adobe was getting Flash apps to work by doing something that (at least in my mind) would be very hard to guarantee future compatibility on the platform, compared to apps compiled in XCode.
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#331924 - 08/04/2010 22:57 Re: iPhone OS 4 [Re: drakino]
wfaulk
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Registered: 25/12/2000
Posts: 16706
Loc: Raleigh, NC US
Originally Posted By: drakino
But the OS would need APIs for all those languages right?

Okay, I'm not familiar with the iPhoneOS, so I could be making an inaccurate assumption, but that's not the case for any other OS I've dealt with.

Okay, to be fair, I'm conflating APIs and ABIs, but there's really not a lot of difference in this case. When you natively compile a program, it has to make calls to subroutines that the OS provides. The OS defines the method by which those subroutines are found by the program, how data is passed back and forth, etc. Once you compile something natively, there's no difference in those calls between programs written in different languages. Think about the machine code or assembly code that a compiler produces: there's no real concept of functions or variables, there's just memory (and registers) to be accessed and a pointer to the currently executing instruction.

That said, it's possible that the iPhoneOS itself is something of a compatibility layer between iPhone apps and the "real" operating system. I've never even looked at developing for the iPhone, so I can't say for sure. Even if it were, though, there still has to be some defined way to call OS subroutines.

Edit: Regardless, there are any number of ways that people automatically convert one language to another. (The example that comes to mind here is TeX. Knuth wrote it in a language he designed called "Web", for which I don't believe there exist any compilers or interpreters. His original implementation used Pascal as an intermediary step. So if you want a TeX implementation for your iPhone, you're now out of luck.) They've explicitly disallowed that, and if you were to use the A{P,B}I Apple provides for that language, there would be no incompatibility issue. What difference is there between XCode typing "#include <iphone.h>" for me and some other program doing the exact same thing?


Edited by wfaulk (08/04/2010 23:24)
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#331925 - 08/04/2010 22:59 Re: iPhone OS 4 [Re: hybrid8]
wfaulk
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Registered: 25/12/2000
Posts: 16706
Loc: Raleigh, NC US
Originally Posted By: hybrid8
Originally Posted By: wfaulk
Just to pick one thing that comes to mind, it means that any Infocom adventure game interpreters (that is, Z-machines, like Frotz) are forbidden.

Always have been.

Someone should tell the folks who approved it for the App Store, then.
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#331930 - 09/04/2010 00:07 Re: iPhone OS 4 [Re: drakino]
wfaulk
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Registered: 25/12/2000
Posts: 16706
Loc: Raleigh, NC US
Originally Posted By: drakino
Originally Posted By: wfaulk
… is awfully draconian. (No offense, Tom.)

…was posting it to point it out, not specifically defending it

Yeah, I wasn't saying you were. It was a lame attempt at a joke, conflating "drakino" and "draconian".
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#331934 - 09/04/2010 00:49 Re: iPhone OS 4 [Re: wfaulk]
hybrid8
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Registered: 12/11/2001
Posts: 7738
Loc: Toronto, CANADA
There are a lot of approved apps that violate the SDK terms. And there are a lot of app rejections that don't.

I'm not a fan of Apple's app approval process nor their SDK terms.

John Gruber pretty much nails it with regard to the update to section 3.3.1 of the SDK licensing agreement: http://daringfireball.net/2010/04/why_apple_changed_section_331

Cross-platform toolkits like Adobe's seek to commoditize the platform. That's not something Apple's going to stand for.
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#331935 - 09/04/2010 01:12 Re: iPhone OS 4 [Re: hybrid8]
drakino
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Registered: 08/06/1999
Posts: 7868
Loc: Seattle, WA
I'm starting to think it takes Apple about 2 years to react to things needed on the platform. 2 years ago, the first of the apps went under development for release that summer. And now they are addressing the lack of 3rd party multitasking. Cut and paste was missing from the initial device, and came in 2 years later. What got me thinking about this is that nothing today really addressed the notifications issue. Push messages for 3rd party apps only came in to the SDK a year ago, so it may take until iPhone OS 5 to really sort that mess out. And until then, OS 4 is only going to make it worse, with backgrounded apps able to send local notification alerts.
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#331936 - 09/04/2010 01:19 Re: iPhone OS 4 [Re: hybrid8]
wfaulk
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Registered: 25/12/2000
Posts: 16706
Loc: Raleigh, NC US
My problem is, like the App Store monopoly, this is like DRM. You don't really own your phone. There's a lot of stuff you could do with it, but Apple restricts you from doing anything with it they don't want you to do.

There's protecting people from shooting themselves in the foot, and then there's just being authoritarian. (Suddenly I'm starting to understand TigerJimmy's anti-socialism stance a little more.)

Gruber's argument basically hinges on "cross-platform apps suck". This may or may not be true, but it implies that apps developed using the official toolkit cannot suck.
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#331937 - 09/04/2010 01:56 Re: iPhone OS 4 [Re: wfaulk]
hybrid8
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Registered: 12/11/2001
Posts: 7738
Loc: Toronto, CANADA
I don't think you took away at all what the point of the Gruber article was. Apple is protecting the bottom line. Yes they have some standard as to the quality of their products and the quality by which their products are perceived due to third party software, but the bottom line is the bottom line. It's measured in dollars.

If you have the most popular platform, people will develop for it. If they're using specialty tools, it's going to make it more difficult to port as well as get the same experience elsewhere. If people are developing in Flash, the iPhone platform is nothing more than a commodity since you can run the same software elsewhere.

The thing Apple knows how to do above all else, is make money.
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