updated 11:35 pm EST, Fri January 29, 2010
New firmware may hide new iPhone features
A late discovery tonight has showed that iPhone 3.2 may hold the basic structure for features that could ultimately reach future iPhones, including video calling. Claimed "extremely trusted" sources for Engadget say the firmware holds but doesn't expose code to accept a video call as well as to flip the orientation of the video feed, presumably for it to make sense in a conversation.
It also has the option of running the video in a small portion of the screen and could potentially multitask, though whether this is evidence of preparation for true multitasking isn't certain. Apple has regularly given its own apps permission to run in the background, but they have so far never sat on top of other software.
A well known iPhone firmware cracker, chpwn, has also clarified some of the features of the shared file area and other aspects of the OS. He notes that the firmware should allow downloading files, such as from Safari, and sharing them with other apps. The move would address a common complaint of would-be converts from Symbian and Windows Mobile, both of which often allow downloading non-image files.
Other key revelations bring word that the support for hardware keyboards and a landscape-oriented home screen should carry over to the iPhone and likely iPod touch, not just the iPad. It may also be the case that the customizable home screen background image will reach other handhelds.
Features like SMS messaging and phone support are also present in the iPad in rough form, though it's not known for certain if the iPad's 3G chipset can also process voice calls or is limited to data. Most data-only modems can still send SMS and MMS.
The information found so far hints that the iPad and the 3.2 firmware are only interim steps for Apple towards a more comprehensive update in 4.0, which has a high probability of shipping this year. In 2008 and 2009, Apple held special events in March to preview upcoming major revisions of the iPhone OS and often put out the final release at or shortly after WWDC in late spring or early summer.