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iPhone 3.0 to include peer-to-peer support, push notification

post #1 of 21
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In offering a preview look at the new iPhone OS 3.0 platform, senior vice president of iPhone software Scott Forstall announced that Apple has added over a thousand new Application Programming Interfaces to allow developers greater access to the mobile device's features, from peer to peer discovery to peripheral hardware support to background notifications.

Among the changes are support for new business models for selling mobile software, including subscription sales to pay for continued access to software services, and the ability to sell add-on packages of new content, game levels, or similar expansions.

Bonjour Discovery

The new iPhone 3.0 software will also add Bonjour discovery support, allowing iPhone users to discover nearby devices without requiring them to set up an ad hoc Wi-Fi network. Instead, the device will use Bluetooth to discover other phones advertising their presence, a feature that can be used in multiplayer games and other applications.

The feature is automatic and doesn't even require the presence of Wi-Fi; developers just need to call on the feature and build in a menu to show it off.



Peripheral support

The next major update will also finally give developers access to hardware peripherals using the Dock Connector, with Forstall giving examples that included smart stereo docking devices, an FM transmitter controlled by an app, or even medical devices, referencing a slide of an iPhone connected to a blood pressure cuff.

Developers can not only hook these into existing APIs and formats but write their own custom protocols to ensure a device works correctly.

Maps

Apple will be converting the mapping engine behind its own Maps app into a general purpose API that developers can use to add mapping features to their own apps as well, including the same multitouch navigation control, street and satellite displays, and GPS plotting.



Core Location will also finally make turn-by-turn GPS directions possible, although developers will need to sell maps separately as Google's free maps are not licensed for GPS mapping. Many developers reportedly either have licenses to third-party maps or own the maps themselves, making this limitation a relatively small problem.

Background notifications

At last year's WWDC, Apple announced plans to roll out its Push Notification Server for the iPhone last September. The system never appeared, however, and triggered concerns that the company was either scrapping it or replacing it with true background app support.

The feature lets apps quit but continue to "listen" for data on a universal network channel that can send messages and other notifications, freeing up system resources but still permitting instant messaging and similar apps to keep watch.

After noting that ESPN delivers 50 million alerts every month, Forstall said Apple had ultimately been forced to redesign its background notification system to accommodate much greater traffic than it had originally anticipated. It now "scales," according to the Apple executive, and can be bolstered by additional servers or other resources as the amount of traffic increases.



He also said Apple had tested background apps on rival mobile operating systems from RIM and Microsoft and found background standby time dropped by 80 percent or more with background listening enabled.

Forstall noted that, in contrast, Apple's solution will only see standby time reduced by 23 percent. PNS will allow developers to push number updates that show an icon badge, text messages, and alert sounds to users who request background updates. Apple is customizing its PNS network for all 80 countries where the iPhone is available, making sure it's optimized across all of the applicable mobile networks.

Additional APIs

Apple is also adding a new API for streaming audio and video directly over HTTP, which is more secure and reliable for firewalls, and another for voice-over-IP. This will allow in-game voice chat and other features that aren't an option today. Other new APIs to be released in iPhone 3.0 will allow access to the iPod portion of the iPhone's media library, control of the proximity sensor, audio recording features through a Voice Memos feature, a battery API, support for data detectors, and text selection.
post #2 of 21
RIM start your Photocopiers!
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post #3 of 21
As a developer, I'd say that was the biggest gap to making some really interesting "community" apps. Finding other players was easier with Bonjour on a local subnet, but if two people were standing next to each other with iPhones, you had to get some third-party server and some location hacking to find each other. Now it'll be a lot easier to create impromptu multiplayer games between iPhones on busses, trains, offices, basements, whatever.
post #4 of 21
Great stuff.
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post #5 of 21
Was anything mentioned about tethering? I would love to get rid of my Sprint AirCard.
post #6 of 21
The opening of the dock connector alone (for me) is a serious plus for allowing third-party hardware add-ons. This will open the door to a huge market. I'm looking forward to this as a developer!
post #7 of 21
Followed the coverage on Ars this time - not a bad Ajax system there.

I think this pretty much answers all demands except for background applications (which they did give some battery life reasoning for, but I think should still be allowed for when the phone is in use).
post #8 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by firehire View Post

Was anything mentioned about tethering? I would love to get rid of my Sprint AirCard.

"Forstall explains what data tethering is for laptops, says tethering is supported in 3.0. Also working around carriers around the world to see when the networks can support it."
post #9 of 21
Thanks. I'm a happy camper now.
post #10 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by Hattig View Post

Followed the coverage on Ars this time - not a bad Ajax system there.

I think this pretty much answers all demands except for background applications (which they did give some battery life reasoning for, but I think should still be allowed for when the phone is in use).

The one omission that I was looking forward to was SDK access to video. I don't know that it's not there, but I didn't see it mentioned. If Apple thinks the quality is too low for support in their Camera app, fine... but I wanted to experiment with motion tracking, etc.
post #11 of 21
The story here should explain a bit more about music and video streaming.

There are two parts to this question.

According to Apple streaming will be used to go to the iPhone/iTouch from a server, web site etc.

BUT, streaming won't be allowed (so far at least) from one device to another, using P2P because the API's are apparently not there for that, I assume, because of copyright issues.
post #12 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by Booga View Post

The one omission that I was looking forward to was SDK access to video. I don't know that it's not there, but I didn't see it mentioned. If Apple thinks the quality is too low for support in their Camera app, fine... but I wanted to experiment with motion tracking, etc.

It's possible this will require the new phone, hopefully out this summer. If that's so, I would imagine Apple wouldn't speak of is so as not to limit sales of current devices.
post #13 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by firehire View Post

Was anything mentioned about tethering? I would love to get rid of my Sprint AirCard.

Exact words were as posted by Macworld:

"11:38 PT - DM: Tim Bajarin: What about tethering (sharing internet connection from phone to computer)? There's two pieces needed for that: client-side needs to support tethering; second is working with carriers. We are absolutely supporting tethering on client side on iPhone. Also working with carriers around the world, and it is coming."
post #14 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by Booga View Post

As a developer, I'd say that was the biggest gap to making some really interesting "community" apps. Finding other players was easier with Bonjour on a local subnet, but if two people were standing next to each other with iPhones, you had to get some third-party server and some location hacking to find each other. Now it'll be a lot easier to create impromptu multiplayer games between iPhones on busses, trains, offices, basements, whatever.

I can imagine the Bluetooth boxing and tennis matches, F1 racing and speed dating that will now happen everywhere ... including in meetings and classes!

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post #15 of 21
Push notifications require a server, and if you're on an iPod touch and not connected to Wi-Fi, you won't get notifications.
Basically, I'll be sticking to iCal & the iPod touch Calendar app for my day-to-day reminders.

Still, the updated apps may be very cool. Hopefully some of those features will be useful for the 1st generation iPod touch.
post #16 of 21
Here's my question. Does the inclusion of a new API for streaming audio and video directly over HTTP, heighten the chances that we'll see an iPhone with video chat capabilities this summer?
post #17 of 21
While PNS is so good. How is Apple going to handle the cost of it? Surely Apple will not be giving this away for free?

Handling billions if not trillions of alert every month is quite a large burden.
post #18 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by newwavedave View Post

Here's my question. Does the inclusion of a new API for streaming audio and video directly over HTTP, heighten the chances that we'll see an iPhone with video chat capabilities this summer?

Interesting question. I wonder how far the new API's in that area go.

Of course, we would need the camera to be on the front as some people have been calling for. And video, which hasn't been announced.
post #19 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by ksec View Post

While PNS is so good. How is Apple going to handle the cost of it? Surely Apple will not be giving this away for free?

Handling billions if not trillions of alert every month is quite a large burden.

well for us million + iPhone users a small fee increase will prob be in order to add to my$ 95 bill but most likely a small increase for hardware? Just my 2 cents?
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post #20 of 21
Can any of the smartphone users verify whether or not opening an instant messaging app in the background would actually drop the standby time by 80%. To me there are lots of assumption behind this statement.

Thanks
post #21 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by mechengit View Post

Can any of the smartphone users verify whether or not opening an instant messaging app in the background would actually drop the standby time by 80%. To me there are lots of assumption behind this statement.

Thanks

Such a thing can't be an absolute as it depends on the efficiency of the app, the type of connection the app protocol maintains, the power of the device, the battery size of the device and the OS and other services that are running on said device. What Apple probably did was take a bunch of devices and test them, then either aggregated the data into an average thinking we test it ourselves or just took the worse scorer. Though if they did that I would think they would have used it as an example.

What is true is that running a sole service that does what your phone and SMS does by maintaining a signal (albeit in different ways) so that any number of apps can get messages via this notification service is, by far, more efficient. Especially when you add more and more apps to the mix.

It's too bad that Apple's close relation with the carriers has not afforded them the ability to use their notification server to send to the carriers via a special SMS that is interpreted on the iPhone's end as the appropriate message for the appropriate app without entering into the SMS app. This would cut down on an additional service that needs to maintain the EDGE or 3G connection to work thereby making any power drain obsolete.

Of course, this would mean that the iPod Touch could not use this service, but Apple could offer the normal notification server for them and for iPhone's connected via WiFi but not within range of a cell tower. A simple message to the server would tell it which method to use.
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