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First Look: Apple's iOS 4 for iPhone, iPod touch

New features for developers

iOS 4 adds a lot of under the hood plumbing for third party developers to exploit in their apps, along with general core OS features that enable new functionality and make the system faster and more robust. Apple claims 1500 new APIs for developers in iOS 4. Many are rather esoteric, but there's a few that are very visible to users:

  • 23. New core OS features that bring iOS into feature parity with Mac OS X Snow Leopard, including support for Blocks and Grand Central Dispatch, IPv6 networks and SSL VPNs.
  • 24. New access to camera features, from raw pixel data for still photography applications to full video access and a new AV Foundation framework that provides the core functionality Apple exposed it its own new iMovie app. iOS 4 also adds enhanced new support for HTTP Live Streaming for adaptive live and on-demand streaming of video, and provides rich access to photos and videos via Media Library APIs.
  • 25. CoreMotion for sophisticated use of accelerometer and magnetometer (compass) data, along with the new gyroscope in iPhone 4.
  • 26. Support for Calendar data store access from the new Calendar Event Kit, enabling apps to create and work with event information. Apple also now supports CalDAV-compliant account sync in Calendar (used by Mac OS X Server's Calendar Server) and CardDAV-compliant account sync in Contacts (used by Address Book Server). Developers can also incorporate SMS features into their apps, add Quick Look support, and use improvements to Map Kit for drawing routes or adding overlays to map views they embed in their apps.
  • 27. The new iAd, more than being just a revised new type of mobile ads, is actually deeply integrated into iOS to allow developers to easily add support for subtle advertising within their apps that provides the maximum payback. That means more potential for apps that might not otherwise exist without a sponsor.
  • 28. New support for advanced OpenGL ES features, including sophisticated shadows, full scene anti-aliasing for graphics smoothing, and new optimizations for performance.
  • 29. The new Game Center is present in iOS 4 as a developer preview, but won't be ready for prime time until later in the year. Developers will need to add support for Game Center to their apps.
  • 30. New Accelerate APIs provide hundreds of mathematical functions optimized for iPhone and iPod touch, including signal-processing routines, fast Fourier transforms, basic vector and matrix operations, and industry-standard functions for factoring matrices and solving systems of linear equations.

iOS 4 features