Page last updated at 00:04 GMT, Wednesday, 18 March 2009

Apple unveils new iPhone features

By Maggie Shiels
Technology reporter, BBC News, Silicon Valley

Apple has unveiled what it calls a "major update" to the operating system that drives the iPhone and iPod Touch.

Some of the 100 new features included in the update replicate those already offered by other smartphones.

The new functions include cut, copy and paste, long demanded by iPhone users, picture messaging and an in-phone search feature, but not Flash video.

"The upgrade is a big big deal and will help persuade consumers to stay with Apple," said Gartner analyst Van Baker.

Advertisement

Apple's Scott Forstall demonstrates the iPhone's cut and paste feature

"While things like copy and paste and multi-media messaging (MMS) are things they have needed to do for a while, other features will in essence stop consumers buying other smartphones and raise the amount of money people spend on the iPhone, " he said.

Analyst Gene Munster from Piper Jaffray agreed that the upgrade was a major step forward.

"We believe Apple addressed key issues that were leading some consumers to competing devices for multimedia messaging and enterprise e-mail."

Some of the other main features Apple highlighted for consumers included a voice memo and stereo Bluetooth.

A new search tool called Spotlight will allow users to search files and applications on the iPhone or iPod Touch.

"Profound and amazing"

Alongside the consumer upgrades Apple also unveiled its SDK (software developer kit) aimed at helping engineers write applications for the devices.

Apple admitted that the success of its App Store, where users can download from a choice of 25,000 paid-for and free applications, had exceeded its expectations.

More than 800 million downloads have been made so far, and the company said that with the help of developers it "had created something profound and amazing."

Apple subscription box
Developers are being given a new way to charge for services

"Our goal was to make developers successful," said Scott Forstall, head of Apple's iPhone software development.

Developers will now be able to use the iPhone's mapping capability in their own applications, as well as take advantage of "push" technology to alert users of messaging or alert software.

Users can also now take advantage of enhanced peer-to-peer capabilities for games and other programmes that communicate wirelessly.

The new software will also allow developers to sell subscription-based software products, opening up the prospect of users being asked to pay for different levels of a game, to purchase additional content or to buy virtual items.

Previously, all purchases on the iPhone or iPod Touch were ring-fenced within either the App Store or Apple's mobile version of iTunes.

Industry analysts said the new move would be an important revenue-generator for Apple and developers.

"This in-app payment capability is big news and provides a way for people to pay for content again," said Mike McGuire of Gartner.

"It will be interesting to see how the print media reacts offering subscription services for magazines, newspapers and e-books.

"Game developers will cash in and I am very excited to see how music services leverage this new function," he said.

Hardware

The operating system upgrade, the third for the iPhone, will be available from the summer and free to all iPhone users.

Users who want to download the 3.0 software on to their iPod touch will have to pay a fee of $9.95 (£6.80).

two iPhones
The upgrade will be free for all iPhones but not for the iPod Touch

Industry watchers are speculating that a new iPhone will also be released around the same time as the software upgrade.

"It wouldn't surprise me to see some new hardware come the summer," said Van Baker of Gartner. He noted that Apple was facing increasing competition from other smartphones.

Gartner recently put Apple's share of the worldwide market at 10.7%, compared to Nokia at over 40% and Research in Motion, which makes the Blackberry, at under 20%.

"Apple can't continue to go with a point product and expect to get the kind of revenue it needs without some new offering. A good time to do that would be when they release 3.0," said Mr Baker.

At a separate question and answer session with journalists after the upgrade was unveiled, Apple's Phil Shiller said there was "nothing to announce on that today".



Print Sponsor


SEE ALSO
Apple announces cheaper 3G iPhone
09 Jun 08 |  Technology
Boom times ahead for smartphones
27 Aug 04 |  Technology
Palm unveils smartphone at show
09 Jan 09 |  Technology
Looking back to Apple's future
23 Jan 09 |  Technology
Apple posts best quarterly profit
21 Jan 09 |  Business
Apple spoils iPhone forgery plans
07 Jan 09 |  Technology
Digital rights war looms ahead
13 Jan 09 |  Technology

RELATED INTERNET LINKS
The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites


FEATURES, VIEWS, ANALYSIS
Has China's housing bubble burst?
How the world's oldest clove tree defied an empire
Why Royal Ballet principal Sergei Polunin quit

BBC navigation

BBC © 2013 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.

Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific