Apple’s iOS 4 software update went live last week, just before the release of the iPhone 4 handset (on which it’s preloaded). The new software has more than 100 new features according to Apple, as well as more than 1,500 APIs for developers to use in their apps.
In the latter case, it’s going to take time for developers to get to grips with what’s new and how they can use it. However, there are an increasing number of apps that are being updated to use some of the major new iOS features like multi-tasking, tying into your calendar, and using the front-facing video camera in iPhone 4.
Here’s a selection from the cream of the crop:
I Am T-Pain (right)
Smule’s excellent music app has let you sing along to T-Pain’s hits for a while now, applying Auto-Tune technology to your dulcet (or less-than-dulcet) tones. The iOS 4 update introduces video into the equation. You can now record video of yourself singing, and share it on YouTube, Facebook and Twitter. The results may be frequently horrendous, but the innovation is undeniable.
Games have been relatively slow to dig deep into iOS 4’s new features, although a number have used the fast-switching API to let you pause, do something else and then jump back in. Real Racing does that, but it also uses iOS 4’s new anti-aliasing tech for smoother graphics. What’s more, if you’re playing on an iPhone 4, it also offers upscaled graphics for the Retina Display, AND uses the gyroscope for smoother tilt-based steering.
If you’re using the official Twitter app for iPhone, you’ll want to grab the latest update. Version 3.0.1 has a small but significant new iOS 4 feature, because it can run in the background, sending tweets while you do something else. That includes photos and videos – the main focus, since they take longer to upload. It’s also useful being able to fast-switch into the app at any time. Rival app Twittelator Pro has a similar feature, it’s worth noting.
TomTom UK & Ireland (right)
Alongside music, GPS navigation apps have been crying out for multi-tasking on iPhone, and now they can do it. TomTom was one of the first to make the leap: it now lets navigation run in the background. On an iPhone 3GS and iPhone 4, you can get visual instructions on screen even while making a call. Meanwhile on those handsets and the iPod touch, you can also run other apps while continuing to get voice directions.
Voice-over-IP app Truphone has beaten Skype to the punch when it comes to supporting iOS 4 multi-tasking. It can run in the background, allowing you to make calls while using other apps, and also receive incoming calls to their Truphone ID. Alongside these new features, the app was also updated with the ability to make voice calls over 3G, rather than just Wi-Fi. Not an iOS 4-specific feature, but welcome nonetheless.
Golfshot: Golf GPS
Golfshot is one of the most popular apps for golfers on iPhone, providing them with maps of courses, and calculating their position and distance to the hole at any time. Now it uses iOS 4’s Background GPS API to keep tracking their location even when they’re cheekily checking emails or filling time with Flight Control while their opponent hacks at a ball in the bunker. It also supports Fast App Switching. iOS Fore!
Loopt describes itself as a ‘location-based social mapping service’, which lets people see where their friends are, and find places to go based on reviews from a range of sites. It now supports the iOS 4 Background Location API, meaning you don’t have to check-in at individual venues, but instead can let it track you wherever you go. Naturally, you’re in control of who this location data is shared with. Sadly for us Brits, Loopt isn’t yet available in the UK, so this one’s for North Americans only. But expect Foursquare and other social location services to use the same feature soon.
Dropbox has become a sleeper hit on the App Store: it lets you sync and share files online between your iPhone and other computers. On iPhone, that includes the ability to take photos and shoot videos, then upload them to your Dropbox account so you can get at them from elsewhere. Under iOS 4, those uploads can take place in the background, removing the need for you to be stuck waiting with Dropbox open while they go. It sounds small, but it’s a big deal for people using the app heavily.
How To Cook Everything (right)
How To Cook Everything is one of the burgeoning number of iPhone cookery apps, designed to help you whip up a meal without needing a printed cookbook. It’s got 2,000 recipes to try, and more than 400 illustrations. It’s had a whopping update for iOS 4, which includes Fast App Switching, but also the ability for cooking timers to run in the background too, pinging you with a notification when you’re supposed to be taking something out of the oven. It can also add recipes to individual calendar dates, which is good if you’re a budding Come Dine With Me dinner party holder.
This is another frustrating one for those of us on the Eastern side of the Atlantic, since streaming music app Pandora isn’t available here either. However, its use of iOS 4’s background music API has made it even more essential for Americans, since the app can now play your personal radio stations while you use other apps, email or Safari-surf. And on this side of the pond? Well, Spotify has just submitted its own update to Apple adding similar capabilities to its app, so stay tuned.
And if you’re looking for more iOS 4 apps… Apple is maintaining its own collection in an App Store promotion, which can be browsed by clicking here. Got your own recommendations? Tell the world by posting a comment.