Apple to demo the next iPhone OS on March 17

Chicago (IL) – The folks
at Apple show no signs of slowing. The last two weeks have brought
substantial hardware refreshes across the entire Mac desktop line, an unexpected iPod shuffle redesign, but with all of that it appears Apple is just warming
us up for even bigger things on the horizon. If the blogosphere can be believed,
next Tuesday will usher in a major milestone for the iPhone platform as
Apple will offer us a sneak peek at iPhone OS 3.0 and associated SDK.

The new OS should bring a host of new end-user features and
frameworks programmers can use to develop better applications. In
addition, if the rumors are true, the March introduction of the iPhone OS 3.0 will likely pave the way for
the next-generation iPhone — which could arrive three months later, in time for Apple’s
developers conference early this summer.

According to Engadget, Apple will host a media event in Apple’s Town Hall on the Cupertino campus, March 17 at 10am PDT (1pm EDT). The event will unveil the iPhone OS 3.0. The gadget blog claims this with a high degree of certainty,
adding that Apple calls this an “advance preview of what we’re building.”Apple Insider claims confirmation of this event came yesterday directly from Apple. Ars Technica posted the original invitation teaser, and was among the first publications Apple invited. The cool teasing invitation sent via email reads as follows:

“Join us at an invitation-only event to learn about the new SDK and get a sneak peek at the iPhone OS 3.0 software. The event takes place at Apple, Building 4, Town Hall on March 17 at 10:00 a.m.”

 

Multiple
online sources now confirm Apple will use the event to offer a
sneak peek at the upcoming iPhone OS, as well as a look at a brand new
version of iPhone’s software development kit (SDK). If true, this
means that Apple is on its way to deliver the next-generation iPhone in
time for the WWDC expected early this summer.


APPLE DOES THE BEST TEASING INVITATIONS IN THE INDUSTRY
Apple wants to show us an advanced preview of what they’ve been doing with the forthcoming iPhone OS 3.0. The company has already emailed invitations to select journalists who will gather in an intimate setting of Apple’s Town Hall on the Cupertino campus next Tuesday at 10am PDT (1pm EDT).


Last year (also in March),
Apple introduced the iPhone OS 2.0 and provided developers with the
first-ever iPhone SDK. That early release gave programmers ample time to create the first
official third-party applications for the iPhone platform in time for the
iPhone 3G and App Store launch, which came three months later at the company’s
annual developers conference in July. The iPhone OS 2.0 brought several new
end-user features and comprehensive enterprise support, including
a built-in Microsoft Exchange Sync protocol (to push corporate email,
calendar and contacts), an important WPA2 and 802.1X wireless
authentication protocols and Cisco IPsec Virtual Private Networking for
secure remote access.

What’s on everyone’s wish list?

After
the seven software updates the iPhone OS 2.0 has seen to date, iPhone OS 3.0 is expected to finally bring about some long-overdue features — like
turn-by-turn GPS navigation and push notifications that would enable
applications to receive messages via Apple’s servers even if they’re
not currently running. Additional features like broader Bluetooth support, copy and paste,
user-created web widgets via mobile Safari, offline web applications
support, a unified notification screen for text messages, missed calls,
emails, etc, online device backup like Microsoft’s My Phone, notes and
tasks syncing, remote file access via Mac OS X Leopard’s Back to My Mac
(and many more) all appear to be on everyone’s wish list. MMS and modem tethering also score high.

Backwards compatible

The
new operating system will power the next-generation
iPhone, but will likely also install on previous iPhone models as well (in the form of a major firmware update). While the new operating system could
support the rumored improved hardware of the third-generation iPhone — like
GPGPU acceleration borrowed from OS X Snow Leopard, video recording
and what not, it should be built in a device-agnostic way. This would
allow iPhone developers to build applications that take full advantage
of all frameworks that the iPhone OS 3.0 will offer without worrying
about compatibility in previous models.

The operating system could simply take care
of degrading application performance or features to the iPhone hardware
that a user is running. This suggestion isn’t entirely new as current
iPhone OS also works in a similar manner. For example, developers who
want to create location-aware programs utilize the CoreLocation API to get a user’s location. If a user runs a program on the first-generation iPhone that lacks GPS circuitry, CoreLocation obtains rough location via cellular tower triangulation and WiFi hotspots. If there is GPS present, CoreLocation returns precise user location. This is all theoretical, but it would make sense to limit requirements on the developer.


IPHONE OS 3.0 AND OS X SNOW LEOPARD
It appears Apple will release OS X Snow Leopard and iPhone OS 3.0 at the developers conference early this summer. Developing both versions in concert might explain why Apple postponed some promised iPhone features, like copy and paste and push notifications that are apparently coming to Snow Leopard as well. Pictured above is current OS X Leopard version.


The next-generation iPhone looms

While
many ask what would happen to many programs and games that are hard
coded for the 480 x 320 display of the current iPhone, most applications
actually construct their user interfaces in relative terms, using
percentages, relative distances and pre-made UI elements that scale to
whatever resolution is necessary. This approach ensures that most
applications written for current iPhone OS would simply scale if ran on
a next-generation iPhone with higher-resolution screen. Some games are
also developed in such way.

Others that are hard-coded for exact number
of pixels could be simply rescaled to a new resolution by the new GPU.
While next-generation iPhone would run current application in games
much faster thanks to a better hardware, new applications that would
have been written to take advantage of this hardware might have problem
running acceptably on a current-generation hardware if developers don’t
offer lower-performance settings to account for slower iPhone models.

Eagle-eyed
readers may remember our previous articles strongly indicating that
next-gen iPhone will probably feature in-house custom system-on-a-chip
solution developed by Semi PA engineers led by ex IBM engineer Mark
Papermaster. The team is expected to utilize ARM’s Cortex processor platform and next-gen Power VR
GPU cores to significantly elevate graphical and computational
performances of the next iPhone. Paired with iPhone OS 3.0 and its many
new speed optimization techniques, the next iPhone is expected not only
to significantly increase the gap between rivals, but also become the
greatest mobile gaming platform.

All of this should come at an
acceptable power consumption given that the area of Semi PA engineers’
expertise are low-power, high-performance processor designs.


NEXT-GEN IPHONE JUST THREE MONTHS AWAY?
Early arrival of iPhone OS 3.0 strongly suggest WWDC hardware refresh of the iPhone, as was the case last year. Apple is believed to be creating its own system-on-a-chip that should pair ARM’s advanced Cortex processor design with next-generation PowerVR GPU cores to enable unheard of processing and gaming capabilities in a mobile device.


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