Apple on Monday was set to release the latest firmware update for its iPhone and iPod Touch multimedia devices.
iPhone OS 4, as the software is called, features a number of enhancements that are mostly aimed at making the devices more user friendly.
"We're delivering over 100 new features, including multitasking, folders, a unified inbox, deeper enterprise support, and an iPhone version of our iBooks reader and online iBookstore," said Apple CEO Steve Jobs, in a recent statement.
Many of the new features, such as multitasking, are designed to work with the new iPhone 4, which goes on sale in the U.S. on Thursday. The feature lets users engage in a number of tasks or activities simultaneously. For instance, they could listen to a Pandora music stream while using other third-party apps.
iOS 4 also eases application organization through a feature that lets users create new folders simply by dragging one app icon on top of another of the same category, such as Games.
E-mail display has also been improved, as iPhone OS 4 offers a unified inbox that pulls together messages from all of a user's e-mail accounts. "With just a few taps, users can quickly switch between inboxes to see messages from any single account," according to Apple.
iPhone OS 4 also supports Apple's new iAd mobile advertising platform, which lets publishers embed ads within their applications. Unlike with previous iPhone ads, users don't have to leave the app to interact with the ad.
For IT administrators, Apple's new firmware offers features that are designed to make it easier to bring iPhones into compliance with corporate security and compatibility policies. The new Mobile Device Management service can be added to networked servers "to wirelessly configure, query, and even wipe or lock managed iPhones," Apple states.
All told, iOS 4 offers more than 100 new features or enhancements. It can be downloaded starting Monday at 10:00 a.m. Pacific time from Apple's Web site or iTunes store. Apple said it plans to release a version of the software for the iPad tablet computer in the fall.