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Thursday, July 24, 2008, 07:15 pm PT (10:15 pm ET)

Apple seeds iPhone 2.1 with directional GPS, push notification

Apple is already providing developers with a new iPhone firmware beta with enhanced location-finding that could lead to true navigation as well as the roots for background push services.

Those with hands-on access to the beta 2.1 code at Gear Live note that Core Location can now recognize the cardinal direction of an iPhone with GPS as well as its velocity, both of which are ingredients necessary to providing turn-by-turn directions.

The additions confirm statements recently by Apple's Greg Joswiak, who rejected earlier claims that iPhone 3G's GPS antenna wasn't powerful enough to handle navigation and in turn explained that "complicated issues" are holding the device back from serving as a true navigation unit.

Separately, AppleInsider has also confirmed that Apple is implementing a rough version of its background push notification service in the 2.1 firmware.

Announced at the Worldwide Developers Conference, the feature lets third-party native programs receive data such as alerts or new messages without actively running. The measure saves processing power without interrupting some apps that depend on constant access to the Internet.

The inclusion of this early version of the code alludes to the 2.1 update becoming public at the same time as the push notification service itself, which is tentatively due for September. In the meantime, Apple and its US partner AT&T are known to be testing iPhone 2.0.1, a maintenance release that likely fixes some of the outstanding bugs with the initial 2.0 release.

More information about 2.1 is expected to appear soon, though developers committed to shipping production apps are being warned to hold off testing the new release and its accompanying SDK as it will prevent them from submitting programs to the App Store.