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GPS obsessed

4 May 2012

iPhone 3.0 includes turn-by-turn GPS directions, MMS, push notification and more

As you iPhone fanatics undoubtedly know, Apple is busy showing off its 3.0 platform today.  Rather than bore you with my usual blabber, I’ll just keep it short and interesting.

App Store numbers: Greg Joswiak, Apple’s vice president of product marketing for iPhones and iPods, revealed that the App Store has sold 800 million applications in the first 8 months.  Extrapolating to a year, well over 1 billion apps will be downloaded.  Compare that to iTunes which took two years to sell its first billion song downloads.  Moreover, Joswiak said that 25, 000 applications are now available in the App Store, 80 percent of developers have never developed mobile software before, and 50, 000 companies have signed up for the developer program out of 800, 000 total SDK downloads.

Application approval wait time
: Joswiak stated that 96 percent of applications submitted this month have already been approved, and 98 percent of those were approved in less than 7 days.

New for app developers
: the App Store will support updated business models including subscriptions to access software over time and the ability to add on expansion packs to applications such as new game levels.

iPhone/iPod Touch sales: iPhones and iPod Touch’s combined have sold 30 million units, 17 million of those iPhones.  By the end of 2008, Apple says it had sold 13.7 million iPhones.

iPhone 3.0 OS features

There are numerous significant changes in the 3.0 platform including access to over 1000 new Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) enabling developers to access more of the iPhone’s features.

Among the changes:

Mapping: the mapping engine Apple uses for its own Maps application will be made into a general purpose API that developers can use to add iPhone-like mapping features into their applications.  Some of the same iPhone features for map apps could include multitouch navigation control, street and satellite displays and GPS plotting.  And, most importantly, the Core Location API has been updated to finally allow turn-by-turn GPS directions.  The only catch is that Apple hasn’t licensed Google’s maps for GPS mapping meaning developers will need to sell maps separately.

Push Notifications: this is one of those must-have features for certain types of application that are useless without background support.  Think any to do with friend-finding or text messaging.  Without push notification, the application has to be constantly open to work making it impractical.  Apple had planned to roll out its Push Notification Server in September 2008, but after realized certain applications would deliver millions of push alerts every month, the company had to redesign the whole notification system to support huge traffic levels.  The company says it will customize the Push Notification Server for all 80 countries where the iPhone is currently sold so it’s optimized for different networks.

Bonjour Discovery
: Bonjour discovery will allow iPhone users to find nearby devices using Bluetooth rather than Wi-Fi.  As a practical application of Bonjour Discovery, think of a massively multiplayer real world game such as Underworld.

Peripheral support: I get the impression from most of the information available from liveblogs that peripheral support won’t be ready until the next major update.  At that time, expect developers to gain access to hardware peripherals using the Dock Connector.

Cut and paste
: this is a feature that most iPhone users have been calling for since day one.  Users can select text by double-tapping a word, resulting in a popup showing copy, cut and paste options.  Cut and paste works across applications and has undo support in case you make a mistake.  Furthermore, it works with photos.

Multimedia messaging: the current SMS app will be integrated into the MMS app and will include support for individual message deletion, picture attachments, and texting with vCards, audio clips and geographic location.  Voice Memos is a new application that supports recorded audio clips as suitable attachments for multimedia messages as well.

CalDAV calendar
: the Calendar app will support the CalDEV specification used by Apple’s iCal Server and the open source Darwin Calendar Server.  The updated Calendar app will also adds calendar events based on an iCalendar RSS feed, and support Note synchronization.

Spotlight search: used to search for content on the iPhone including applications and mail messages.

Other APIs and stuff: I don’t think we’ll know exactly what new APIs are available until developers start digging through the new SDK, but they’re obviously pretty numerous.  Some examples:

» a new API for streaming audio/video
» an API for in-game voice audio
» iPod library access
» proximity sensor control
» a battery API
» data detector support
» A2DP stereo Bluetooth support

In a nutshell, that’s what iPhone 3.0 will offer.  Pretty well everything we’ve been asking for including turn-by-turn GPS directions.  The 3.0 platform won’t be released until the summer, free to iPhone users and $9.95 for iPod Touch users, but a Developer Beta is available today.  That likely means we’ll find out some more good stuff over the coming days.

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