iPhone OS 3.0: A revolution?

Apple last Tuesday showed a lot about the upcoming iPhone OS 3.0. It’s a BIG evolution of functions that will upgrade iPhones and iPod Touches to a new level.

However iPhone OS 3.0 doesn’t bring us anything that wasn’t already wanted, asked and re-asked by customers ever since the original iPhone came out. No big science here. In fact there are several things that were asked and that it doesn’t bring.

But I believe that OS 3.0 is in fact bringing a Revolution, and that revolution has a LOT of value.

What is that revolution? It’s the fact that for the third time in a row, Apple is offering a complete and free upgrade to ALL it’s iPhone customers (and a paid one at 9,99€ to iPod Touch customers).

Why is this so revolutionary? Well, quite simply because Apple entered the Smartphone business after more than a decade of its existence (Palm, Symbian, Windows Mobile, RIM, etc). In this decade a LOT of hardware and O.S. generations passed, however the companies involved never gave its customers a consistent promise and delivery of software upgrades for previous hardware generations. The model has always been: hey, you want to have this new UI for the media player, hum? Well them buy a new device that comes with O.S. version 6.1.23 blah blah blah.

That and the fact that UIs were boring were the reasons why I stopped using Smartphones years before iPhone came out.

Apple’s iPhone market model

The market model that Apple uses for the iPhone is very interesting:
1) Customers feel confident in buying an iPhone because they now know that anything they buy will be software updated for several years, and with Apple, software is what is important.
2) Developers gain because they never have to worry to develop for several iPhone O.S. generations, because the iPhone customers will mostly all have the latest O.S. version.
3) And finally, Apple wins because this model guarantees that they will have a consistently growing client base for its very lucrative iTunes Store which sells Musics, Videos and Apps.

So … Everybody wins.

Why didn’t this model exist before, given that the Smartphone business has existed for so long?

The answer is simple: only Apple thinks its products like Software and not Hardware. Software is what Apple gives its customers, the Hardware is only there to serve the Software part.

All other Smartphone manufacturers are focused on selling Hardware, for them it’s always more memory, more MHz, more MPix on the Cameras, GPS of newer generation chipsets, etc, etc, etc. However the Software NEVER explores that Hardware to 10% of its capacity, so it’s all a boggled experience. But it’s that boggled experience that justifies selling the next Hardware with more memory, more MHZ, and blah blah blah again ad again in a never ending loop.

I’m wrong when I say that if they don’t adapt to the model Apple is creating they will fall? I don’t know but I really hope they learn and adapt so their competition takes Apple to innovate more and more in the near future.

The other smaller revolution: Background Push Notifications. What is this and why is it a revolution?

Again, it’s simple: up until now every Mobile OS manufacturer has only thought of giving the ability to have several apps running at the same time. They consider this as the ONLY working model for these devices.

However there are problems with this approach:
1) More expensive devices to manufacture because it needs much more memory to run several Apps at the same time, leaving less money to invest in software…
2) Much bigger battery discharge when apps running in the background, the device cannot enter a reduced power stage…
3) Bigger probability of inconsistencies appearing in the OS because if any of the running apps generates a serious error all the OS would suffer…

Apple chose to think about this and generate a way to go around these problems.

Then it came up with Background Push Notifications. It is an Apple Service that can be used by iPhone programmers to put in their apps some code to send messages to Apple Messaging Servers. These messages can be Text, audio or a badge. The message is delivered to a small messaging listener that is always running on the iPhone OS that will then update the Icon of the App that is supposed to received the message. This way the iPhone user will know that any given app has a message to show and it just needs to open the app.

There are some drawbacks to Apple solution though:
1) A Web Radio, for instance, needs to be always running to be receiving the music, so without background running that function is off.
2) Some other thing I don’t remember now… dependency on Apple’s servers, perhaps?

In time maybe a mixed model will be offered by Apple to serve each app with its ideal function mode, who knows for OS 4.0?

For now I’m happy but anxious waiting for the upgrade that will arrive in the summer.

What other great new things will be offered in iPhone OS 3.0?

Apple says more than 100 new features:
1) Cut, Copy and Paste (finally) with Undo and Redo, with what seems to be the most interesting implementation I have seen so far in any mobile OS.
2) Turn-by-Turn GPS that will at last give Tom Tom and other GPS software companies the ability to launch their products for the iPhone 🙂
3) Notes Synchronization with Desktop Apps…
4) To continue soon …

Keep coming, more updates to this article soon…

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