At the risk of being branded an Apple fanboy, I have to say Apple's plans for the forthcoming iPhone OS 4.0 will vault the iPhone past all mobile competitors as the best mobile business device -- period. Until now, the iPhone's capabilities for security, app management and distribution, device management, and so forth have been middling at best, creating a real difference versus the BlackBerry for large businesses. In turn, this has let IT dismiss the iPhone as a toy and caused many IT shops to break out in hives when someone wants to use an iPhone on their network, though it's the device that people want.
That's about to change.
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[Editor's note: At the WWDC 2010 show on June 7, Apple announced it was renaming iPhone OS to iOS in recognition of its use on the iPad and iPod Touch as well as on the iPhone, and confirmed a ship date of June 21 for iOS 4 for the iPhone and iPod Touch. Apple did not describe any other changes to iOS 4.0 from what is reported here.]
Apple's new iPhone OS 4.0, currently available in SDK form for iPhone developers and set for general release this summer, takes several major steps to address the needs of corporate mobile usage, as well as amp up the capabilities that will appeal to individuals. As a result, user demand for iPhones will increase significantly, but so will the ability for corporate IT to safely -- even enthusiastically -- embrace the iPhone.
Even better, owners of the iPhone 3G S, the third-generation iPod Touch (the 32GB and 64GB models from fall 2009), and the iPad all will be able to run iPhone OS 4.0, and its capabilities will be available to a large base of existing users. The older iPhone 3G and some second-generation iPod Touch devices will support some -- but not all -- of the new iPhone OS 4.0 capabilities, based on their hardware's capabilities.
Multitasking at long last
A persistent criticism of the iPhone has been its lack of multitasking. Yes, there was basic multitasking at the operating system level for services such as checking email and looking for server-based alerts, including availability of app updates, but nothing for app developers to take advantage of.