Apple's latest iPhone software update gives users the ability to cut, copy and paste text within applications, but the release will also open up new revenue-generating opportunities to the growing legions of iPhone developers.
In a press event held Tuesday at Apple's Cupertino, Calif.-based headquarters, executives offered a look at some of the more than 1,000 new APIs in the iPhone 3.0 software development kit, which opens new avenues for applications that use streaming audio, and video, maps and games.
Greg Joswiak, vice president of product marketing for iPods and iPhones, said Apple sold 13.7 million iPhones in 2008, and there are 17 million iPhones currently in use. He also revealed that Apple has sold 13 million iPod Touch devices to date, which pushes the total of Apple multitouch devices to 30 million.
With around 800 million apps downloaded to date, the App Store's runaway popularity shows no signs of slowing. More than 50,000 companies are currently enrolled in Apple's iPhone Developer Program, and 80 percent of them are newcomers to the mobile application development space, Joswiak said.
Apple developers have been clamoring for alternative sales methods, and with the iPhone 3.0 SDK, they'll be able to create apps that let users purchase new content -- such as additional game levels -- from within an application, said iPhone software vice president Scott Forstall.
For example, developers can build geographic applications that include regional "city packs," Forstall said. The revenue split for purchases taking place with applications will be the same as with the App Store: 70 percent for developers, 30 percent for Apple.
iPhone 3.0 also includes an API that enables developers to embed multitouch-enabled maps into their applications; a new API for streaming audio and video; and an API for voice audio in games, according to Forstall. iPhone 3.0 also brings Spotlight's global search capabilities to the iPhone for the first time.
Apple has spent the last six months completely redesigning the server for push notifications, another new feature in iPhone 3.0 that makes it possible to push badges, text and sounds, Forstall said. Push notifications, which Apple was expected to include last September in the iPhone 2.2 update, enables iPhone apps to continuously receive messages from the network, even when they're not running.
The iPhone 3.0 developer beta is available now, and Apple will release iPhone 3.0 sometime this summer as a free update for iPhone 3G users. iPod Touch users will have to pay $9.95 for the iPhone 3.0 update.