Yesterday, Apple finally announced the details of iPhone 4.0 OS
which will deliver seven core options as well as correcting a flaws that has plagued its devices since day one. The seven major add-ons for both users and developers are Multitasking, Folders, Enhanced Mail, iBooks, Enterprise, Game Center and iAd (developers.) These will impact all users of the iPhone OS devices in one way or another, but three specifically will be important to gamers.
The most important to gamers and users alike is multitasking, which has been the largest hindrance and one of the most criticized options lacking from iPhone OS devices. Other than a few core apps (i.e. iPod and phone calls), no iPhone or iPod Touch could run two apps simultaneously. That appears to have been rectified yesterday, but it comes with a catch (doesn't it always.) Unfortunately (or more likely...deliberatly) multitasking wont work with those older iPhone 3G models and iPod Touch 2nd gen or older. So only those with the iPhone 3Gs, 3rd gen iPod Touch and iPad models (as well as future models) will be able to utilize this due to hardware constraints. Not surprising, as my 2nd gen iPod touch can get hotter than blazes when playing some games that really tax the graphics processor. The benefits are being able to pause a game (say Bejeweled 2) while pulling up an email, your calendar, taking a note or doing just about anything else. Then, you can go back and pick the game right back up where you were.
Another new feature will be GameCenter, which appears to be similar to Xbox Live for the iPhone OS. Supposedly it will be able to handle achievements, math-making for multiplayer and global leaderboards. I have wondered about a unified system for these types of items a few years now, but it will be interesting to see how well this goes over, as several large developers (EA, ngmoco, Freeverse off the top of my head) have invested time, effort and money into creating their own system or have become a part of the Plus+ network. Hopefully, everyone can come together in one big happy family so the experiences are fragmented by who has invested in what system.
The other functionality that will impact the gaming side the most is probably the iAd functionality. Much like ads that are force fed into games on consoles (to keep them "fresh" and updated), iAd will allow for in-app advertisement, and not just a banner or footer like we see today. Potentially, this could include an ad on a scoreboard in EA Mobiles Madden NFL, or a billboard ad in Need for Speed and so on. I am not picking on EA on purpose, but just using crossover titles (console to iPhone OS) that illustrate the example. My stance on this has always been, its not a big deal if the ads are not obtrusive. However, if ads start popping up everywhere, yet prices do not come down or somehow increase...then I have an issue with that.
Engadget has a nice write up
on all the new goodies for users and developers alike.