Few surprises as Apple demos iPhone 2.0 apps

The Feedster

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Jun 26, 2007
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Appletook the wraps off version 2.0 of its iPhone firmware at WWDC today.But it didn't send thousands of iPhone owners scurrying away to clickon 'Check for Update' in iTunes.

The 2.0 firmware, and by associationthe new iPhone3G, are due to be rolled out worldwide on July 11.

The new iPhone 3G is undoubtedly theheadline act – it updates Apple's pioneering smartphone withtri-band HSDPA connectivity, GPS and improved battery life. If theiPhone was hard to beat before, it's even tougher now. But the new2.0 firmware that's being rolled out with it is equally important.

Enterprise, SDK and 'new features'

Available on both the 3G and original2G iPhones, version 2.0 adds a several new features to the iPhoneplatform. There are those that we've already seen: push email andcalendaring (via MS Exchange), Cisco VPN support and downloadablethird-party applications via the forthcoming App Store.

And there are those features we didn'tsee coming: a push notification service, a scientific version of Calcand a nifty Contact Search. These hardly make compelling front pagenews. Apple has improved the iPhone in very subtle ways.

When it hits on July 11, version 2.0 ofthe iPhone firmware won't offer a major overhaul of the iconictouchscreen interface. Why should it? If it 'aint broke... As SteveJobs explained in his keynote, there are three elements to the iPhone2.0 software – enterprise, the SDK and 'new features'.

Since Apple firstrevealed the iPhone 2.0 software back in early March, we've knownabout its enterprise plans. Apple's support for MS Exchange willenable the sort of push calendaring, push email, push contacts andremote wipe capabilities that businesses have been crying out for.Ditto the built-in Cisco VPN client.

What we're really interested in is thepersonal apps and games. With 250,000 software developer kitsdownloaded since March, Jobs revealed that Apple had admitted 4,000applicants to its iPhone developer programme (from 25,000applications).

With access to the iPhone's core APIs(shared with Mac OS X), plus its accelerometer, camera andlocalisation features, we now have a better idea of what the iPhoneis capable of.

Super Monkey Ball for $9.99

Just as it did back in March, Segashowed off an updated cut of its GameCube favourite Super MonkeyBall. This game will be available on the App Store for $9.99 when itlaunches in July. That's about £5 or £6 in UK money,although expect the real-world exchange rate to be avoided in favourof $1=£1. At least it's a lot less than the rumoured $25 pergame that was swirling around tech websites pre-keynote.

In comparison, the rest of the earlyApp Store line-up at WWDC seems a little simplistic – anuninspiring selection of games, medical applications and prettied-upnews feeds. But there are some bright sparks.

The mobile version of TypePad,for example, has been designed to tie in with the iPhone's camera,enabling you to take shots and upload them to a website. Looptoffers a mix of social networking with location-aware intelligence,while the Associated Press plans anapp that will map your whereabouts to deliver relevant news.

Apple itself has developed a pushnotification service, designed to keep a persistent IP connectionopen that can notify you of new emails or instant messages. And itdoes this without the relevant applications running in thebackground. It's a big deal, but pencil September in your diary forthis one.

Like the iPhone 3G, the App Storeshould launch on July 11th. 2G and 3G iPhone owners will be able todownload apps less than 10MB over 2G/3G, Wi-Fi or via iTunes.Anything greater than 10MB will be limited to Wi-Fi connections anddownloads via iTunes.

The 2.0 upgrade will be free for iPhoneusers, but it will cost iPod touch owners $9.95.