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Tuesday, March 17, 2009, 12:00 pm PT (03:00 pm ET)

Apple on iPhone tethering, Flash support, and Copy & Paste

Apple executives Scott Forstall, Phil Schiller and Greg Joswiak answered a series of questions from reporters about the iPhone 3.0 platform, providing some additional information outside of that presented in the prepared comments.

Copy and paste priority

When asked by a reporter from Time why Apple took so long to deliver "obvious" copy and paste features, Forstall replied that it wasn't that easy, and that security issues needed to be resolved with copying information between applications.

Unlike most other smartphones' operating systems, the iPhone offers real security between applications managed by the operating system, rather than implicitly trusting whatever software a user might load from any source.

Flash panned, again

Asked about support for Adobe Flash, "video is still a blackhole if you visit a website with Flash," Apple said it has no announcements on that front, instead deflecting attention to the fact that the phone supports H.264 video streams, and adds new support for HDTV streaming for audio and video.

Video playback is the main use of Flash on the web outside of animating advertisements. However, a variety of major sites that use Flash for video on the web, including YouTube, CBS Mobile, and the BBC, now push standard H.264 video to the iPhone directly.

Tethering

When asked about tethering, the use of the iPhone as a gateway for sharing its mobile connection with a notebook computer, Forstall answered that the issue involves two parts, working with the mobile carriers and building the technical support into the iPhone client itself. "We’re absolutely supporting tethering in the client side in iPhone 3.0," Forstall said, "but we’re working with carriers around the world to see when they can add tethering support on their networks. But we are building that support into iPhone 3.0."

Peer-to-Peer and Bluetooth

The new Bonjour-enabled discovery of other devices will use Bluetooth exclusively, Apple said. That will enable the discovery service, used to allow gamers to participate in multiplayer titles for example, to work without disconnecting from WiFi internet, without needing any configuration, and without requiring mobile network access.

When asked if developers could send out audio files over Bluetooth, to trade files, say music files, through iPods, the group remained stumped for a moment before Forstall answered, "I think probably not — you couldn't move the file."

"We have the ability to stream music to music apps, and certainly a game, if a game has music in the game it would be possible to download game tracks, but if would be confusing for other music apps with downloadable music that isn’t through the app store."