Topping the wish list for the iPhone and the iPad: broader ability to run more than one program at a time. And Steve Jobs delivered just that at an event Thursday to unveil the iPhone's 4.0 operating system.
Owners of the Apple Inc. devices were hoping to see those changes as part of updates the company unveiled Thursday at a press conference in Cupertino, Calif. Some experts also expected Apple to talk about the company's mobile ad platform.
Jobs said 85 million iPhone and iPod touches have been sold and the 4.0 operating system will ships this summer. The new operating system will have the ability to better organize play lists, the ability to digitally zoom and video focus along with the ability to hook up Bluetooth keyboards.
"We weren't the first to this party, but we're going to be the best," Apple CEO Steve Jobs declared Thursday, as the audience of bloggers, software developers and others greeted the news of such multitasking with applause.
The iPhone already permits some multitasking, but that's largely limited to Apple's own programs. Apple had not given users ways to seamlessly switch among all the software "apps" available from outside software companies, the way phones from rivals Palm Inc. and Google Inc. already do.
With the updates, known as iPhone OS 4, an iPhone user might be able to listen to music using the Pandora program and check a bank account online simultaneously. Previously, users must return to Apple's home screen, quitting the open program, before starting a new task.
Thursday Jobs showed first hand how the new iPhone OS would handle multiple apps running at the same time. The move is expected to also open the door for the iPad to multitask as well.
"It really changes the way you use the iphone. you're bouncing around the apps with tremendous fluidity," Jobs said.
The new OS would also add the iBook store, with a free Winnie the Pooh download, new mail features, app folders, more security and wireless app distribution, according to Jobs.
He also said iPad, iBook, and app sales have started very strong since the company introduced the tablet computer last week.
The updates to the operating system running both iPhones and iPads will be available this summer. Apple Inc. generally makes such updates available for free as a download.
NBC Bay Area Tech Reporter Scott Budman was at the event, and sent live Qik updates.
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