Updated: Apple goes app crazy for iPhone 3.0

Apple iPhone applications have been downloaded 800 million times, Apple said today at a press conference. There are now more than 25,000 apps available on the iconic phone, which has sold 17 million in the past two years, and that number will only continue to growth with the next version of the iPhone operating system. iPhone 3.0, unveiled today, will support 1,000 APIs available to app developers, currently totaling more than 50,000 – 60% of which had never developed for any mobile platform before.

The iPhone 3.0 SDK, open to developers beginning today, will give developers access to the iPhone’s proximity sensor, a user’s iPod library, streaming video and audio over HTTP, system-wide data detectors and built-in VoIP APIs. Developers will be able to sell additional levels, subscriptions, virtual goods and extra content within their apps, but the same 30% revenue share will still apply.

Some of the other notable additions:

• The long-awaited cut-and-paste functionality
• Support for peer-to-peer apps over Bluetooth
• Ability to talk to accessories including an FM transmitter or blood pressure monitor.
• Push notification API for developers: apps can incorporate email, IM and messaging
• Landscape support for all apps and email
• Spotlight: search across every app, including email, notes and the iTunes library
• MMS picture-messaging support

Some of the features probably should have been present from the start (i.e. MMS, copy-paste), but overall iPhone 3.0 is pretty impressive. Mark Donovan, senior analyst at comScore, said the most notable updates to the iPhone were Apple’s extension of new models to the store, letting developers build a shell app that consumers can buy multiple things from inside of and the push-notification functionality for dynamic apps. Most importantly, albeit overlooked in most discussions, was the hardware API for the iPhone to talk to potentially any other device, he said.

“For me, the most jaw-dropping demo was the Johnson & Johnson company LifeScan with diabetes monitoring where you take your blood analyzer, prick your finger and plug it into your iPhone,” Donovon said. “The iPhone will take that data, tell you what you need to do to manage your insulin levels, chart it and communicate to your doctors or your family – whoever you want to know your health status. That was developed with a couple weeks’ work. When you think of the array of devices out there from cars to audio-visual equipment or sensors, that takes the iPhone into pretty exciting, near science-fiction territory.”

Apple didn’t wrap up the event with a hardware announcement, although rumors of a third – cheaper – version of the iPhone coming out around this summer still abound.

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