Apple unveiled a number of new features that will be available to developers with the release of its next-generation mobile platform – iOS7 – later this year, while revealing it has paid $10 billion to its developer partners.
Describing iOS7 as the “biggest change to iOS since the introduction of the iPhone”, Tim Cook, Apple’s CEO, also pointed out that more than 90 per cent of iOS users are running the latest version of the Apple platform, whereas only a third of Android users are on the latest release.
“This isn’t just bad for users, this version fragmentation is terrible for developers, as many of you know. In fact, if you do the maths, you’ll find that iOS6 is the world’s most popular operating system, and in second place is a version of Android that was released in 2010,” he said.
The iOS7 SDK includes more than 1,500 new APIs for developers, adding support for features including the company’s AirDrop peer-to-peer content transfer technology and third-party game controllers.
iOS 7 also sees the introduction of full multitasking, using features such as intelligent scheduling (based on user behaviour), opportunistic updates (in the background when a device is being used for something else), network status monitoring, coalesced updates (several updates managed simultaneously) and push triggers to preserve battery life.
Craig Federighi, Apple’s senior vice president of Software Engineering, said that while iOS has featured multitasking support from the outset, “We had to be careful about how we’ve exposed these to applications, because we wanted to preserve great battery life.” Multitasking support for selected apps was introduced with iOS4.
Other app-related features introduced with iOS7 are support for background updating of downloaded titles – without the need for user intervention – and the ability to search the App Store catalogue by age range (to find apps suitable for children) or to find titles relevant to a location – for example a place of interest or retail site.
A beta release of iOS7 for developers is available now, with an iPad version following “in the coming weeks”. The final release is slated for “this fall”. It will be supported by iPhone 4 and later, iPad 2, iPad mini and iPod touch (fifth generation), although not all features will be available across the board.