Apple iPhone users are preparing to download version 3.0 of the device's operating system, expected to be available Wednesday. The updated firmware will add a host of new features.
Apple did not say what time the update is expected to be rolled out, but original iPhone and iPhone 3G users will be able to download it using iTunes. Customers with an iPod Touch will be able to download OS 3.0 , but will have to pay $9.99.
The software fixes many nagging holes in the platform, and it puts it on par feature-wise with rivals like Android, BlackBerry, Symbian, webOS, and Windows Mobile. Apple iPhone users will be able to cut and paste, search through the entire phone, send MMS messages if their carrier supports it, and record voice memos.
In order to deal with the fact that the iPhone doesn't allow background processing, Apple has implemented a push-notification system that enables applications to gain the user's attention even if the program is closed. For example, an instant messaging program will stay connected to an Apple server that can send notifications to the user if they get a message, even if the program is closed.
The media functions have also been improved, as podcast playback has been improved, and Apple is bringing the "shake-to-shuffle" feature to the iPhone. Customers will also be able to access and buy movies, TV shows, audio books, and music videos over the air from iTunes, although these files aren't allowed to exceed 10 MB if they're downloaded over a cellular network.
Users could also see a new class of applications rolled out over the next few months, as the 3.0 software gives developers more than 1,000 new hooks into the iPhone. Along with the push-notification system, content creators will be able to exploit in-app purchasing, and peer-to-peer connectivity for multiplayer gaming, and make specialized accessories that plug into the phone's docking port.
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