Apple on Tuesday introduced its new iPhone OS 3.0, which now includes more than 1,000 new APIs that developers can use to make new applications for sale through the App Store.
The new APIs, which are available to developers in a new SDK (software development kit), come at a time when sales of the iPhone and its applications are growing at a phenomenal rate, said Greg Joswiak, vice president of iPod and iPhone marketing.
The iPhone is currently available in 80 countries, Joswiak said. Apple sold 13.7 million iPhones in 2008 alone, he said. In total, Apple has sold more than 30 million iPhones and iPod touch devices.
Meanwhile, Joswiak said, more than 800,000 copies of the free iPhone SDK have been downloaded so far, with more than 50,000 paid developers in the SDK program.
"Clearly, we'd created something powerful, something amazing, something we've never seen before," he said. "But we've just scratched the surface."
Scott Forstall, senior vice president of iPhone software, said Apple is now providing developers more than 1,000 new APIs for developing new applications.
"This is a lot of functionality to make these applications even easier to develop and allow our developers to add even more functionality," Forstall said.
One of those new APIs, In App Purchase, was designed to make it easy for developers to sell new content, such as subscriptions to online magazines or new game levels or new eBooks to go with an eBook reader. With the API, developers can now offer such content for purchase in the same manner in which all applications are currently available through the iTunes Store, with 70 percent of the revenue going to the developer just like the current iPhone application business model, Forstall said.
Also new is the Peer to Peer Connectivity API. This API allows an iPhone user to automatically locate all other users within his or her proximity and connect automatically. Forstall said it is great for peer-to-peer games, or for business applications such as passing business leads. Such applications do not need a network to connect, but instead work wirelessly through Bluetooth.
Apple also introduced the Accessories API, which allows applications to directly connect to and control iPhone accessories. For instance, Forstall said, a music application could include an equalizer in the iPhone to control the speakers, and a radio application could automatically send music through an FM transmitter to send the music to multiple radios. Or, he said, a developer could make an application to allow blood pressure test results to be sent automatically to a doctor.
Another new API is Maps, which allows developers to embed maps from the Google Maps Service directly into their applications. That would let developers do things such as add concierge capabilities to their applications or put localization information on top of a map. Forstall said the Maps API also could be used to allow turn-by-turn driving instructions, but because of licensing reasons, such applications could not use the Google Maps Service.
Also new is the Push Notification API. Originally scheduled to be available late last year, the API allows persistent connections to the iPhone for pushing content such as objects waiting to be handled, or audio or text alerts. This API allows such functionality without background processing, which would hurt battery life and iPhone performance, Forstall said.
Other APIs include In App Email, which allows users to send an e-mail without leaving an application; iPod Library Access, which allows users to access and play music right out of the iPhone's built-in library; Streaming Audio and Video, a new standard for streaming content over HTTP, even through firewalls; and In Game Voice, which adds chat functions to games that are played over Wi-Fi.
"This is a big update for the iPhone SDK," Forstall said.
Apple's iPhone OS 3.0 is slated to be available this summer.