Apple iPhone OS 4.0 May Bring Ad API

Developers are hoping to see support for XMPP, an iTunes Sales Data API, and improved Parental Controls.
Hot on the heels of its successful iPad launch, Apple on Thursday plans to discuss details of its forthcoming iPhone OS 4.0 at a developer event.

The company's iPhone OS, derived from its Mac OS X operating system, powers its iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad devices.

Apple has not officially disclosed any changes to its iPhone OS, but it's widely speculated that the company will make multitasking -- the ability to run several apps or background processes at the same time -- available to third-party developers. Some applications created by Apple can already do this.

One reason that Apple withheld this capability -- which is available in Mac OS X -- is that multitasking draws more power than running a single app at a time. Apple has spent considerable engineering effort on power usage optimization because heavy power consumption quickly leads to a drained device and a poor user experience.

If multitasking support does end up as part of the next iPhone OS, Apple's review process for third-party apps may place more emphasis on efficient power usage.

There's some indication that Apple will enhance wireless printing support, a capability which would significantly improve the utility of the Keynote, Numbers, and Pages applications that it just introduced for its iPad.

The company is also expected to introduce an advertising API for its mobile devices, the result of its $275 million purchase of Quattro Wireless in January.

If it does, Google is likely to cheer the move, given that its acquisition of another mobile advertising company, AdMob, faces a possible FTC challenge. Apple's entry into the online ad market would undermine the government's possible argument that the AdMob deal should be blocked on antitrust grounds.

Apple's purchase of online music service LaLa late last year has yet to have any impact of the company's products, so the company could also include support for iTunes streaming in iPhone OS 4.0.

Other possibilities for iPhone OS 4.0 include support for a front-facing camera, which isn't yet available but is probably inevitable given its utility for mobile video conferencing, support for higher screen resolutions, an area where the iPhone lags behind some competing mobile devices, and a better way to manage multiple users on a shared device, such as enhanced Parental Controls -- an ongoing concern for Apple and something developers have been asking for.

Developers have also been asking Apple to offer a public XMPP framework, a protocol used for IM and voice, and an iTunes Sales Report Data API, to make it easier to track data about app sales.

Check in on Thursday to see what Apple has planned.