Apple has traditionally previewed its latest iPhone operating software in the spring, followed by a new generation handset in the summer, and there's no reason to believe this year will be any different.
Software for the iPhone 4.0 will be revealed on Thursday (April 8th, 2010), and will update the estimated 40m iPhones, 20m iPod Touch and, in all likelihood, the 300,000 iPads running the iPhone operating system. (Note: Thursday's announcement is just that - an announcement. The new OS will probably reach the masses in around three months' time.)
Photograph: Gonzalo Baeza Hernández/Flickr/Some rights reserved
Likely improvements include support for higher resolution screens, a front-facing camera, muilti-tasking between apps and better voice-to-text features.
• Multitasking is certainly the most in-demand feature. Users can currently email while listening to music, but the inability to use multiple apps at once - despite the implications for battery time - is a frequent gripe. That becomes even more important for iPad users, who will expect improved functionality for their more expensive apps and their altogether more expensive device.
• Daring Fireball's John Gruber, who has a reputation for predicting such things, also mentioned the new double resultion display of 960 x 640 pixels for the iPhone and a second camera on the phone front for apps like video chat.
• AppleInsider expects a global inbox that integrates mail accounts, plus 'speed links' to favourite contacts that can be added to the home screen as an icon.
• Kevin Tofel on GigaOM as well as some kind of cloud-based music service, though that might just be wishful thinking:
"if Apple doesn't offer iTunes streaming over the web, others like Amazon could easily jump in the game. Consumers don't mind carrying their music around, but storing content in the cloud offers nearly limitless capacity to hold media. And if Apple decides this isn't a feature for the iPhone OS, I'll just keep doing what I do today - store and stream my music with a cloud storage service like SugarSync or another provider."
• A better voice-to-text solution might also improve the options for voice-guided GPS navigation, but improvements to the native Maps app are likely following Apple's acquisition of the Placebase company and recruitment of a dedicated engineer last year, according to PC World.
• And other probably-won't-be-solved problems include the lack of email attachments, contact groups and rotation lock that is a feature on the iPad.