The new iPhone 3.0 software will introduce copy-and-paste options, spotlight search, background notifications, stereo Bluetooth, MMS messages, and third-party access to the device's map application.
Apple's third major software release for the iPhone was previewed today for a press gathering at the company's HQ in Cupertino. Expect the device's refreshed OS to arrive "this summer," offered free to iPhone users and priced at $10 for the iPod Touch.
The news was reported by several media outlets, including Cnet. Apple declined to provide The Register with an invitation to its press gathering, citing lack of space.
Apple also provided a look at the phone's new software development kit, which will let iPhone app makers add new toys like push notification, peer-to-peer networking, and hardware accessories that can communicate with apps.
Copy and Paste, hallelujah
The iPhone's lack of a basic copy-and-paste functionality has consistently been pointed out as one of the device's major flaws as a smartphone. Fortunately, Apple's belated addition of copy-and-paste for 3.0 appears to be done right.
Grabbing a chunk of text seems easy. A user double taps on a piece of text to select it, which brings up grab points to resize the selection box. Above the box are three buttons for cut, copy, and paste. Shaking the device cancels the action.
Mercifully, copy-and-paste works across all iPhone applications. For example, text from a web page can be pasted into an e-mail or Notes application. Text from third-party apps can be copied too.
Apple said images can also be copied and pasted - although it's unclear if users can grab pictures from websites or if it's restricted to their own pictures.
Spotlight for iPhone
Search has been added to all core applications including mail, calendar, and the device's song library.
A search bar will appear when users flick the home screen to the left. Entering a term scours everything on the device from e-mail text to calendar dates. Selecting a result will automatically bring the user to the specific app it was found in.
Apple said the feature will also be a handy way to locate a specific app for customers with several screens full of software.
Fun, games, and discovery with Bluetooth
A new option for stereo A2DP Bluetooth on the iPhone makes for a surprise entry to the 3.0 update. The feature will only be available on the iPhone 3G. Perhaps an Apple Bluetooth headset isn't far off?
Apple's latest SDK will also let devs include peer-to-peer networking using Bluetooth. Discovery is handled by Bonjour. The company is a bit unclear about the improvements here, but suggests third-party apps could include things like the ability for other iPhone and iPod Touches to see each other when playing the same game nearby.
Peripheral app support
The 3.0 update will give developers access to third-party hardware peripherals using the iPhone or iPod Touch's dock connector. Apple said uses range from adding a stereo system equalizer to app that takes measures from a blood pressure cuff.