Apple has announced major updates and improvements to the operating system software for the GPS-equipped iPhone3G in its new OS 3.0.
More than 100 updates have been made, and several of these have a significant impact on the iPhone as a platform for navigation and location-based services.
Under 3.0, Apple is permitting developers to use its core location capability as the basis for turn-by-turn directions. Turn-by-turn navigation apps have been missing, with one exception, so far.
One catch is that developers cannot use the already available Google Maps for turn-by-turn, due to licensing restrictions. That detail won't prevent major players from developing turn-by-turn, since they already license maps and points-of-interest databases from global heavyweights such as Telenav and Navteq.
Apple has also included better capability for developers to integrate Google Maps into applications that don't offer turn-by-turn directions.
Other new features that have the potential to enhance navigation and location-based apps on the iPhone include:
The ability to sell subscriptions and within-app upgrades (possible use: map updates), additional levels of service (traffic alerts vs. no traffic alerts, for example), and new content (points-of-interest updates, or specialized in-depth business reviews). Yes, there is potential for companies to abuse and over-use this capability. They'll be tempted to charge for upgrades that are being done for free under the current App Store model.
Support for peer-to-peer connectivity (share a geocache location with a friend).
Capability for applications to interact with iPhone via a dock connector or Bluetooth (assorted GPS accessories and/or mounts).
Other included features that iPhone users have been asking for include the ability to cut, copy and paste (within and between applications) and landscape touch keyboard capability within all Apple core apps.
The new OS 3.0 for iPhone and iPod Touch is to become available by summer, 2009 Apple states. The OS will be free to iPhone users, and will cost $9.95 for iPod Touch users. Note that iPod Touch does not have built-in GPS (but hopefully it will in the next version).