Apple has provided a sneak peek at a developer preview of iPhone OS 4.0, the next major version of its operating system for mobile devices.
To tackle the problem of having too many apps on your phone, Apple is introducing Folders in the iPhone 4.0 update. “As people are downloading more and more apps, they have to keep flicking from page to page,” Jobs said. “They want a way to organise [apps] and find them, and Folders fits the bill.”
To demonstrate, Jobs showed off a Folders feature for the iPhone’s Home screen, allowing users to group applications. When you’re editing your Home screen, you can drag one app on top of another app to automatically create a folder. The iPhone automatically names folders based on the categories of the apps.
So, for example, you can create a Games folder merely by dropping one game on top of another. The folder icon displays a small set of tiles showing you which apps are inside, and you can drag the folder anywhere on the Home screen, just like an app icon.
There’s no limit to the number of the folders you can have; it’s even possible to put one in the iPhone’s Dock. The addition of folders means the iPhone can let you see more than 2000 apps at a time. Currently, the iPhone’s 11 Home screens and dock let you see only 180 apps (though in either case, you can load as many as space allows and launch them via Spotlight).
In a move borrowed from the iPad, iPhone 4.0 also lets you change the background wallpaper on your iPhone’s Home screen - this can either be the same as the lock screen’s wallpaper or an entirely different image.
Apple severely revamped the Mail application in iPhone 4.0, adding support for new features such as a unified inbox, that allows you to see all incoming mail from multiple accounts; you can also quickly jump between inboxes for multiple accounts. In addition, Mail also now supports more than one Exchange account at a time, and you can also organise by thread.
Attachments are enhanced as well: you can now tap files attached to email messages to open them in a separate application, including third-party apps.
iBooks on iPhone
In another borrowed feature from the iPad, Apple will be making iBooks available to the iPhone in iPhone OS 4.0. It’s a smaller version of the iPad app, but allows the same features, including purchasing from the iBookstore. And you’ll be able to sync your place and bookmarks between multiple devices: leave off reading a book on your iPad, and you can start reading it in the same place on your iPhone.
iPhone 4.0 has added new features for business users. At the top of the list is better data protection: all e-mail, including attachements, can be encrypted with your PIN code. And Apple will make encryption APIs available to third-party developers, allowing them to do the same with data stored in those apps.
Apple’s also rolling out improvements for mobile device management, for those companies that deploy large numbers of iPhones. Companies can now wirelessly distribute applications anywhere in the world from their own servers. In addition, there’s the aforementioned support for multiple Exchange accounts, and support for Exchange Server 2010. Plus, Apple is supporting SSL VPN for both Juniper and Cisco.