I imagine numerous teams have worked long hours at Apple these past few months. Just two days after the iPad’s release, Apple announced an event (scheduled for this Thursday) to unveil iPhone OS 4.0.
I have no inside sources at Apple (yet). So my predictions about what OS 4.0 might contain are nothing but guesses, conjecture, and drunken rambling, sans alcohol.
1. The “easy” guess is multitasking. I expect it will be there, using the apps-posé interface we’ve seen, or something similar. Like cut-and-paste, I expect the final version will feel functional and work well, but lack 100% intuitiveness. (You wouldn’t know how to cut and paste if you just picked up an iPhone for the first time.) Bonus prediction: I wonder if this and other 4.0 features might not be available on all iPhone OS devices. Maybe some multitasking and other niceties won’t work, say, on a first-gen iPhone or iPod touch, because of slower processors or less available memory.
2. Push notifications will also work better, so that the arrival of a new one doesn’t punt off the previous one, an obvious and major annoyance now.
3. Dan Frakes predicts on Twitter that Apple’s “Ink” technology could find its way into OS 4.0. It’s a reasonable guess; I had been holding out hope that some kind of Ink-related preference would show up in the iPad’s Settings app. It’s often forgotten or denied that the Newton’s handwriting recognition technology was actually pretty good at the end. I think it’s smart for the iPad and its brethren to adapt more text-input methods, since some methods will always strike some consumers as trickier.
4. On that note, I do think that the iPad’s text-entry improvements will make their way other devices, perhaps standardized as part of 4.0.
5. Wildcard: Built-in transcription mode. It’s employed to great success by apps like Dragon Search and Google Mobile App, and the latest version of the Android OS offers it in most (all?) text-entry fields. If Apple can successfully emulate that technology, it could be an additional, easier-to-use text entry method for times when tapping at virtual keyboards is unwanted or unmanageable.
As you’ve gathered, I already think the iPad is awesome; it exceeded my high expectations. I think that OS 4.0 will be a major upgrade for the iPad and other iPhone OS devices. While Apple-bashing pundits will characterize it as catchup (Pre and Android already do multitasking!), I fully expect (and hope!) that Apple’s implementation of those features will characteristically leapfrog what’s available on other devices.