An invitation Apple sent to journalists this week features a silhouetted image of the numeral 4 and promises "a sneak peek into the future of iPhone OS" on April 8.
Apple did not provide any details about the platform's functionality, but many users hope it will give users the ability to work with more than one application at once. The iPad has drawn barbs from critics because it suffers from the same limitation.
Given the timelines behind previous sneak peeks at new iPhone platforms, Apple watchers expect the company to roll out new phones based on the software some time this summer.
That would give Apple a leg up on rival Microsoft, as Redmond has said only that devices powered by its new Windows Phone 7 software will be available for purchase in time for the holiday season. Dell, Garmin-Asus, HTC, HP, Samsung, LG, Sony Ericsson, Toshiba, and Qualcomm have all committed to producing phones based on the software, Microsoft said.
Meanwhile, AT&T, Deutsche Telekom, Sprint, T-Mobile USA, Verizon Wireless, Vodafone, Telecom Italia, Telefonica, and Telstra are among the network providers who are on board with Windows Phone 7.
Apple has partnered exclusively with AT&T for iPhone network carriage in the U.S., but recent reports suggest Apple might make the next version of the iPhone available to Verizon, as well. Apple has not confirmed the reports.
Further clouding the competitive landscape in the mobile market is Intel. The chipmaker earlier this year said it would team-up with Nokia to develop a Linux-based mobile OS called MeeGo, for use on devices powered by Intel's Atom chips.
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