Software developers asked, and Apple responded, the company said today at a special press event. Apple's new OS 3.0 software developer's kit will include 1,000 new enhancements that will enable developers to add push-notification, in-app purchasing, peer-to-peer connectivity and much more to their apps. The OS 3.0 SDK beta is available for download as of today.
Apple also announced over 100 new features that will be available to iPhone and iPod touch users this summer including cut, copy and paste; MMS; landscape view for Mail, Text and Notes; stereo Bluetooth; syncing Notes to Macs and PCs; shake to shuffle music; parental controls for TV shows, movies and apps from the App Store; and automatic login at Wi-Fi hot spots. The iPhone OS 3.0 beta release will also include a new Voice Memo app and expanded search capability for all key iPhone apps, as well as Spotlight search across the iPhone or iPod touch.
Developers have been asking to be able to sell subscriptions from within an app, said Scott Forstall, iPhone senior VP. What devs want to be able to do is make it possible for app users to buy add-ons for their apps from within the apps themselves, he said. For example, a game player could buy extra weapons or an e-book reader could buy subscriptions. Apple calls this new function "In-App Purchase" and it will be tied to the App Store at the same 30/70 revenue split already in place. Free games will not have In-App Purchase.
The new Application Programming Interfaces also extend to peer-to-peer connectivity using Bluetooth. iPhone and iPod touch owners will able able to play games together, share contacts and other information, and even stream audio from one device to the other. Discovery is automatic, which means no pairing is involved.
Devs will also be able to build custom apps that talk directly to accessories and other hardware--for example adjust and equalize audio on a speaker, select and manage stations on an FM radio, or display readings from a blood pressure cuff.
Developers will also be able to use Apple’s new Maps API to integrate Google Mobile Maps services into their apps to feature Google Map tiles, current location, turn-by-turn directions, custom annotations and geocoding.
Push-notification services have finally arrived for the iPhone and iPod touch. Apple announced the function last year but it's has been delayed since. "Within months of launching the App Store, many devs started talking about how to use push in ways we hadn't even considered, so we had to re-architect the server structure," Forstall explained.
There's also a new API for streaming video and audio and for in-game voice.
What devs won't be able to do is run apps in the background because it's "bad for the consumer," Forstall said. Background processing drains too much battery power, he said. Even running a simple app can drain 80 percent of the battery's power, he added.
Apple confirmed tethering — using the iPhone 3G as a modem — but it will be up to the carriers to determine whether they will provide it on their networks. Which means U.S. iPhone owners will have to wait for AT&T to make the next move.
Apple has been working quietly with Meebo, Smule, Oracle and other devs who were at the event to showcase the apps they've been working on using the new SDK.
For example, Meebo showcased a new game called The Sims in which a character wanders from one room to another and purchases items for her home.
Lifescan, a maker of diabetes monitoring devices, showed an app that will work with one of its devices and can be be used to check blood sugar levels, record readings, plan healthy, meals and transmit the results to an iPhone via Bluetooth or the dock connector.
ngmoco:) has two apps in the works. The first is Touch Pets, a social networking game in which pets can interact with each other, and pet owners can buy toys for their pets. The second is LiveFire, a first-person shooter in which a gamer can buy weapons and push notify another player to join the game.
Finally, Smule showed off a wacky music app called Leaf Trombone World Stage that music makers can use to play in concert with each other no matter where they are.