The iPhone is set to get a facelift. Apple will show off a new version of the iPhone operating system, iPhone 3.0, on March 17, along with a new version of the phone’s software development kit.
While details are scanty, iPhone 3.0 could include features such as universal search, multi-media messaging and an updated user interface.
Apple will unveil the new SDK and OS at a media event for reporters and bloggers at Apple’s Cupertino, California campus, starting at at 10 a.m. Pacific next Tuesday.
“In the past two weeks Apple has introduced new Mac hardware and a new iPod shuffle, for which the company simply issued a press release,” says Gene Munster, an analyst with Piper Jaffray in a note. “The fact that Apple is hosting an event for the iPhone OS 3.0 shows that it will likely involve meaningful changes to the iPhone feature set.”
The software preview event could also be a sign that an iPhone refresh is coming this summer. Version 2.0, the last big upgrade to the iPhone OS, was released in July last year, along with the new iPhone 3G.
Apple CEO Steve Jobs will likely be a no-show at the company’s event, but Apple won’t let that hold it back. In January, Jobs said he will take five months off for medical leave. In his place, it’s possible that marketing head Phil Schiller, who keynoted at Macworld, will lead the event; iPhone software chief Scott Forstall is also a likely candidate.
Some bloggers and analysts have been suggesting that Apple will launch a new version of the iPhone at its Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) in June. But new hardware will require an updated SDK and possibly a new version of the operating system. Those speculations align well with Apple’s planned event next week.
Among the features that users can expect with the new iPhone OS are multimedia messaging and tethering via Bluetooth and USB, according to the Boy Genius Report. Universal search and a redesigned user interface are also possible, says Piper Jaffray’s Munster.
Palm, which is set to release the Palm Pre phone in the next few months, will have universal search as one of its significant features. Universal search allows users to look through their contacts, emails and documents on their phone as well as search the internet with a single search string.
Apple’s last enhancement to the iPhone software came in November 2008, when it offered Version 2.2. The update offered features such as Google Street Views, improvements to email and measures to reduce dropped calls.