Apple Unveils the Future of iPhone OS

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With Jack Johnson filling the air at Building 4, Town Hall, Steve Jobs revealed what many of us have been expecting for over a year: multitasking. Along with Scott Forstall and Phil Schiller, Steve Jobs walked through 7 of the 100 new features coming to the “most advanced mobile operating system in the world” that will be available this summer.

Thursday’s announcements were the latest barrage in Apple’s escalating war with its one-time friend and partner, Google. That relationship quickly went south when Google got into the mobile business and spearheaded development of Android and Chrome, the free operating systems that are being used on a number of ever-growing hand-held devices.

With the iPad, which has sold over 450,000 units since it went on sale April 3. The company is trying to leverage the success of the iPhone and iPod Touch—which together account for over 85 million devices, worldwide—and build out a better way to browse the Web and download apps. It needs to keep up the pressure, though: For the first time since launching the iPhone, Apple saw its numbers slip—while Google’s surged. Google’s Android phones increased smartphone market share to 9 percent, up from 3.8 percent in the last quarter of 2009, according to comScore. By comparison, Apple slipped to 25.4 percent from 25.5 percent.

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Apple’s announcements Thursday are intended to shore up the operating system that runs the iPhone and iPad and plug some well-known holes. For starters, as has long been expected, Apple’s mobile devices will now be able to run more than one app at a time—something that Google’s phones have always been able to do. Users can also change wallpapers, create folders, access to the iBook store, as well as a social networking Game Center.

True to the rumors, Apple also announced its plans for the mobile-ad network, Quattro Wireless, which the company purchased in January for $275 million, and which competes with Google and AdMob. Mobile advertising is expected to be a white-hot field in the coming months, as advertisers get a better handle on how to serve up ads based on a user’s physical location. Apple’s goal is to create ads that are more interactive than current Internet ads with the same emotion evoked from TV ads. Estimates for impressions are upwards of 1 billion per day per iPhone/iPod Touch user.

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It almost goes without saying that the rapid leapfrogging between Apple and Google will hardly abate. New devices running Chrome, a Google operating system for tablets, are expected shortly. Meanwhile, Apple is believed to be readying a new iPhone, which could be unveiled in June. Regardless of how it turns out, the winner is will be the consumer who gets to watch two of the smartest companies in history duke it out for their affections.

For further details (there are many) and live notes from today’s press conference check here.

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