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What can we expect from Apple iPhone 3.0?

PhoneAs Apple's WWDC show nears, speculation over what's in store for the Apple iPhone has reached an ear-splitting, glass-shattering pitch. Expectations are high - but what can we expect?

Will Apple have some surprises up its sleeve? Or will eager fans and watchers have to 'merely' be satisfied with what Apple's already announced - particularly when it comes to the next version of the operating system for its popular iPhone?

What we know

Just for the sake of a refresher course, let's review what Apple has already publicly disclosed about the upcoming Apple iPhone OS 3.0 update. During March's special event announcing the next version of the iPhone OS and its attendant software development kit (SDK), the company boasted of more than 1,000 new application programming interfaces (APIs) for developers as well as more than 100 new features for users.

Among the features plugged for average Joe iPhone-user are a number of much-anticipated improvements - a list topped by Apple's implementation of cut, copy and paste, which will finally offer the ability to move text not just within applications, but also between applications.

Apple also showed off Multimedia Messaging (MMS), finally bringing to the iPhone a feature that most conventional mobile phones have had for years. Thanks to a new Messages application that replaces the current Text app, no longer will iPhone users be restricted to sending and receiving messages of pure text: now those messages can contain images, voice recordings and even location or contact information as well.

Speaking of voice recordings, Apple showed off a brand-new application, Voice Memos, which allows users to quickly and easily use the iPhone's built-in microphone (or, in the case of the Apple iPod touch, an attached microphone) to record audio as well as trim it and share it with others via email or MMS.

Apple iPhone 3G

Another marquee feature for the new version of the iPhone OS is search. Taking a page from its desktop OS, the iPhone now has a special Spotlight screen (to the left of the first Home screen) that allows for searching of contacts, applications, media in your iPod library, notes, emails and calendar appointments.

In addition, several individual applications will feature their own search capability, with Mail receiving the most robust support: it allows for searches of From, To and Subject headers, as well as the ability to continue your search on supported IMAP servers for messages not yet downloaded to the iPhone.

While those were the biggest features touted for users, Apple executives did mention several others, including adding the iPhone's landscape keyboard to text-heavy applications such as Mail and Notes as well as support for CalDAV and subscription-based calendars in the Calendar application. They also touched on improvements in the Stocks app, the addition of Notes sync, stereo Bluetooth support via the A2DP profile, additional languages, Auto-Fill for Safari, expanded Parental Controls, antiphishing protection, support for YouTube accounts and more.

And users won't be the only ones to see benefits from iPhone 3.0. If anything, third-party developers will have even more freedom at their disposal with those 1,000 new APIs. They'll be able to sell additional content for their applications from inside the programs themselves, write software that interacts with hardware connected via Bluetooth or the iPhone's dock-connector port, and take advantage of seamless peer-to-peer networking support that Apple has baked right in.

Apple is also now allowing developers to embed Google Maps into their application or even use the iPhone's Core Location framework to provide turn-by-turn directions.

The firm spent some time in March detailing its long-gestating push notifications system, first discussed at last year's WWDC. While third-party applications still can't run in the background, they will be able to receive information via a persistent network connection and then alert the user via a sound, pop-up notification, or icon badge.

Other APIs were given lip service during the presentation, such as access to the shake API, data detectors, access to the iPod library, and in-application email. Apple also said that iPhone 3.0 would support tethering on the software side, but developments in that arena would require co-operation from its various carrier partners.

Next page: Speculation, rumours and titbits >>

See also:

Apple iPhone 3G review

BlackBerry Bold vs Apple iPhone

Apple iPhone 3.0 coming next week

Apple iPod touch (2nd generation) review

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