iPhone 4 gets two balls in the air at once

Apple showed off its iPhone OS 4.0 software and released a beta version of the software to iPhone Developer Program members today.

As you can see from our live blog, the updated SDK includes over 1,500 new APIs and over 100 new features that will be available to iPhone and iPod touch users this summer.

Probably the biggest new feature was multitasking for third party apps as widely expected. There are seven new APIs specifically aimed at multitasking. Other's will allow access to the device's core features including the spell checker, calendars, photos, playlists and one which could prove to be incredibly popular with the business crowd, Bluetooth keyboards. About time too!

As part of the multitasking feature, slow an intensive tasks, like uploading or downloading photos or other large data files, can be completed in the background.

The dock gets a new look with an OSX-like feature which shows running applications.

Talking of applications, the current limit of 180 has been increased rather nicely with the inculsion of folders, which will allow you to have a whopping 2,000 on each device.

The iPad's slick-looking iBooks App will also make an appearance on the two smaller devices and Apple says once you've downloaded the file, you can read it anywhere at any time. As long as it has an Apple badge on it, we can only assume.

The company is also promising better services for businesses with beefed-up data security, tighter mail integration, wireless App distribution and VPN.

Gamers will be delighted to learn that they'll soon have an XBox Live type service going by the name of Game Centre which will feature social networking, achievements and leaderboards.

But it can't all be good. Apple has announced that forthcoming Apps will soon be plagued with adverts from a new service called iAds. To be honest, the demonstrated money-making tools were pretty slick and unobtrusive, more like little bonus mini games with the opportunity to my another App or a pair of shoes tagged onto the end.

All in all it's a pretty comprehensive update from a company which has been pretty busy of late.

Developers have the new tools in their hands right now and the public update will be seeded through iTunes some time in the summer - no doubt at the same time as the fabled fourth gen iPhone tips up.

And now the bad news. Anyone with anything older than the current 3Gs or the 3rd gen Touch will have to upgrade, or miss out on some of the goodies. Including multitasking.