iPhone 3.0 OS channels Xbox Live (plus cut & paste)

Dave Zatz —  March 17, 2009 — 12 Comments

iphone-3-features

Like many of my fellow geeks, I set aside time today to follow Apple’s iPhone 3.0 OS briefing. Former Engadget editor-in-chief Ryan Block retains his title as the live blogging king, and I monitored his coverage on gdgt.com. (I also swiped a few pics for this post, as you can see.)

The first half of Apple’s presentation was geared towards developers and hardware partners, introducing support for new payment and device connectivity options. Both of which had me drawing comparisons to Xbox Live. In-game, err in-app, purchases will be supported under the 3.0 OS SDK – allowing the typical items, maps, and expansion packs you’d expect. As explained, it could also permit developers to produce one app to be populated with various content. Such as en e-book reader or metro subway map program. The reintroduced push notification system and new peer-to-peer technologies should also enable a variety of interesting interactions… which, again, had me thinking Xbox Live or Nintendo DS.

The second half of the event focused on all sorts of OS enhancements we owners can look forward to this summer. Many should have shipped earlier (MMS and multiple photo attachments, for example), but their absence probably hasn’t impacted sales to any great extent. Finally, the blogosphere can shut up about cut & paste – it’s here. As I said in January, it’d be nice to have, but isn’t a deal breaker. However, two of my three top current requests didn’t make the cut. I’m very pleased to see Apple allow third-party developers to produce true turn-by-turn navigation apps. And when a worthy contender comes along, I’ll consider upgrading my first gen iPhone. But I’m disappointed that native voice dialing and better app organization (think: folders) weren’t introduced.

Another big disappointment is Apple’s continued stubbornness in prohibiting third-party background processes. I understand their position, that they want to protect the experience and what not. But many of us manage to simultaneously run multiple programs on other battery powered devices (laptops, non-iPhone smartphones). Why can’t I listen to Slacker and check my email at the same time? Gr. Although, as a consolation, many more SDK hooks into the underlying OS and native apps, plus the push notification system, should alleviate some of the pain. If the developers play ball.

So the big question is: Why hold this event now? I assume it’s partially to get folks cranking on new apps (Apple takes a 30% cut of all sales) ahead of the public release of iPhone OS 3.0 this summer. But I also see it as a way for Apple to buy a little time, let folks know they’ve got some cool, new stuff in the pipeline. (Without pre-announcing new hardware which would kill sales of existing hardware, but it must be coming…) Because Palm isn’t sitting still this spring. And they know us early adopters are fickle fans.

Click to enlarge:

12 responses to iPhone 3.0 OS channels Xbox Live (plus cut & paste)

  1. Some caveats… While OS 3.0 will be free for 1st gen and 3G iPhones, the Touch update will run $10. Not sure I get the distinction and I’d think Apple would want anything that improves/enhances App store sales should be free. Also, 1st gen iPhones will not be capable of stereo bluetooth or MMS. I can live without both. A good GPS app will get me to upgrade. As will a higher resolution camera.

    ALTHOUGH AT&T is totally useless. As in zero bars, zero connectivity about 8 hours a day at work. Making the Palm Pre more enticing. We shall see…

  2. Generally impressed. Finally cut & paste, MMS, landscape keyboard, etc. And they seem to be well implemented. You didn’t mention the search features (spotlight) though, which are also needed. Again seems to be well implemented. Sure, this stuff should have come sooner, but hey, the thing is freaking amazing and has changed the world forever.

    Yes, I’m sure they are starting to feel some heat from Android and the Palm Pre. Which is good. Will keep them from leaving out stupid stuff in the future hopefully.

    Yes, I’ll reserve judgement on turn by turn GPS until I see what is available. Happy to pay a LOT for an application that does this, but probably NOT willing to pay a monthly fee, which I assume they’ll charge for traffic or whatever. Hopefully different developers offer different price points/options, and the competition keeps prices down. I’m sure Tom Tom or whatever doesn’t want to kill off sales of their existing standalone units, so they’ll try and charge hundreds of dollars or $14.95 per month, or whatever. But if they don’t compete on price, others will. I want a $49 price point with no monthly fees. Feel free to charge me for each state map or something if need be. Will be interesting to see how this shakes out.

    I want that Live Fire game. Wonder what the pricing model will be with the multi-player aspects…

  3. Too many things to mention them all. That might be the surprising thing… How large this update really is.

    But, yes Spotlight actually looks quite similar to one of the videos I saw of Pre and will be a welcome addition. From most of the coverage today, I’m still not clear how to bring it up though. At first, I thought it was a new search bar up top which unfolds when used. But now it looks like you swipe the screen over to reveal it? Too much swiping if so. Like I said, I want folders. And a universal search bar up top is fine. I’m reading Macworld.com now to catch up on the finer points.

    Telenav currently charges about $10 (directly or via a carrier, sometimes as a branded service) and while I’d prefer something like $6.99, I’d pay it. But this being the iPhone, I wonder if they’ll charge more? Also there’s the question of storage. Telenav pulls maps as needed, which is different than how Garmin and others have handled mobile mapping with downloads. Will Apple even release some storage for a large map? If not, most apps would probably be services talking to servers… My TomTom uses about 800GB I think for US & Canada as a reference point.

  4. To the best of my understanding, the release of a new phone requires Apple to register with the FCC and perhaps with similar regulatory bodies elsewhere in the world. This is partly why Apple pre-announces new iPhone models, unlike their other hardware, which Apple seldom announces until they are ready to take orders. This means that we’re not likely to see a major refresh in iPhone hardware anytime soon.

  5. They can also request a certain level of confidentiality with these regulatory entities of like 60 or 90 days. While at Sling, we attempted to do it as well… but one of our OEM’s flubbed the paperwork and the FCC announced our product for us. ;) Apple’s done a very good job of mastering this process and keeping most info under wraps. Still not perfect, but better than most. More impressive when you consider the amount of scrutiny they are under versus other manufacturers.

  6. Sounds like a number of features will not go live for original iphone like A2DP. Total BS, bye bye apple hello pre.

  7. I was also impressed with the number of short comings that this update addressed. If someone had told me yesterday that A2DP, horizontal keyboard, and turn by turn navigation would be supported in this release I wouldn’t have believed it. And there is a ton of other good stuff as well.

    I’m sort of surprised that their is no movement on video at all. And I am skeptical of battery life on turn by turn GPS. Even when using GPS currently with Google Maps you can practically watch the battery meter drop to zero.

  8. Chris, any new features tied to new hardware would be announced with that phone. There’s probably more to 3.0 which we’ll discover this summer…

    Regarding navigation and battery life, here’s my solution:
    http://www.zatznotfunny.com/2008-12/hands-on-with-griffin-roadtrip/

  9. I certainly hope that the new streaming services API will allow developers to write an application that would enable you to listen to Slacker and read email.

    My biggest gripes are with the email and I only saw one of my pain points addressed in the liveblogs, maybe there is more in the video.

    As for timing. 90 days makes perfect sense to me. They have to give developers time to test their existing applications and to develop new ones. They wouldn’t want to launch all these great new features without any great new apps that actually use them. Which is why the beta is available in developers now.

  10. Ohh, I almost forgot.

    I’m actually the most excited about the possibility of an external FM tuner. I know it sounds silly, but I’ll finally be able to retire my Rio Cali which I currently use to listen to the announcers when I go to football games. And if you’re wondering why I don’t just stream the audio, it’s because AT&T’s network sucks and when you put 65k people in one place no one can use the data service.

  11. Hey Dave – couple of things. The iPod Touch is not sold on a subscription basis where they book revenue over a 12 month basis for the sale of the device. Therefore they have to charge for upgrades, based on accounting rules. They book the entire sale of an iPod when it occurs, whereas the iPhone over a rolling 12 month basis.

    Secondly – what Tom Tom do you have? 800gb is a lot of memory for maps, no? :)

    Also to Griffin – the reason that certain features are restricted to the newer products are the subtle but real hardware changes. For example, 1G iPhone can’t do MMS because it has a completely different cell radio inside. This was actually covered during the Q&A phase of the announcement. Apple has a fantastic track record of not leaving the iPhone and iPod Touch users behind with new features. But obviously some things just CAN’T be done.

  12. Har har, I obviously have the TomTom enterprise server with topographic maps. ;) 800MB, sheesh.

    The accounting stuff is BS. I read that excuse with the activation of the N spec on some Macbooks awhile back. All sorts of other devices and companies manage to provide upgrades, updates, and new functionality without charging…

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