Last month's preview of iPhone 3.0 software, which is due for release in June, brings a number of very welcome improvements to the ultra-successful phone/pda. For my money, the biggest of these changes is the addition of cut and paste. This is such a basic operation which has been available on personal computers since the early eighties, that it is truly amazing versions 1 and 2 of the iPhone software did not include it. No one seems to know why it was so difficult to implement, but we will have it at last in a couple of months.
The second advance for me is the ability to compose emails and text messages in landscape mode. Recently I have been using landscape mode extensively with the Momo journal application and there is absolutely no doubt that it enables greater accuracy and speed. The little keyboard of the portrait screen turns into quite a useful "full size" offering when you turn the phone round.
Two other useful features are the ability to send MMS messages, missing from the iPhone so far, and the facility to search the entire phone for information. This, again, is a basic operation which has been available on Palms and Windows Mobile devices for ages.
Multi-tasking of applications has been on most people's wish list for ever, but this is not going to happen. Apple say the reason is that multi-tasking will severely harm battery life and I tend to agree with them. The iPhone is just so useful that you find yourself using it constantly with the result that it needs charging every evening and, sometimes, early in the afternoon.
Probably the most important aspect of the new software release, though, is the addition of 1000 new APIs (Application Programming Interfaces) in the iPhone SDK (Software Development Kit). This will enable more complicated applications to be produced.
Developers will now have the tools to enable in-app purchases such as subscriptions, additional game levels and new content. They can also create apps that connect peer to peer via Bluetooth, communicate with hardware accessories and use the Apple Push Notification service to provide alerts on applications which are not running.
What hasn't been announced is a new iPhone to go with the new software (although, of course, the new software is will run on the existing iPhone). There's a general feeling in the rumour world that there will be a new iPhone, probably to be announced at the World Developers' Conference (WDC) on June 8 in San Franciso. Whispers speak of a better camera with more pixels and variable focus, and more storage memory for the phone; and, maybe, even a difference processor. We shall have to wait and see, but the money is on something being announced.