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Apple Opens Up More Ways To Get Paid On The iPhone, Adds Key New Features. Apps Hit 800 Million Downloads.

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iPhone apps have been downloaded 800 million times, and there are now more than 25,000 apps in the iTunes store. Apple is detailing some of the new features in the next version of the iPhone OS in apress conference going on live right now. The new OS, iPhone 3.0, will support 1,000 APIs. Apple seems to be giving a lot of extra love to paid apps, which will gain the ability to sell additional levels, subscriptions, virtual goods, or extra content from right within the app.

The new APIs will also support peer-to peer applications via Bluetooth, which will be great for head-to-head games. Maps will be able to be embedded directly into the apps, and apps can now talk to accessories such as an FM transmitter or a blood pressure monitor. But Apple is not opening up background processing, which would allow more than one app to be running at once—a feature already common on Android and other phones. Apple says it takes up too much battery life.

Apple is also opening up push notification APIs for developers. This will allow apps to incorporate email, IM, and other messaging services. Meebo for instance, created a native iPhone app using the new API, which it demoed onstage. Apps will also finally be able to tap into the iTunes music library on the iPhone. (About time). And they will be able to handle streaming video as a feature.

And they save perhaps the most requested feature until near the end (‘natch): Cut-and-paste. You double-tap a word to highlight it, drag the edges to highlight a block, shake to call up an “undo” button. Finally. Why was that so hard?

Another much requested feature: landscape support (when you tilt the iPhone horizontally, the screen goes into landscape mode). Now all apps can have it, including e-mail. And email will support MMS. Again, this is all just basic stuff.

Taking a cue from Android, Apple is finally adding search to every app. So now two years later, you can search your emails and think that it is a gift. But it is not just email. Apple is adding Spotlight to the iPhone: one place where you can search across all apps: your calendar, notes, iTunes library.

The IPhone 3.0 SDK is available to developers starting today. CrunchGear has a full rundown of all the announcements.

Some stats from the press conference:

  • There are now more than 25,000 iPhone apps in the iTunes Store.
  • iPhone apps have been downloaded 800 million times.
  • 96 percent of all apps are approved
  • The developer SDK has been downloaded 800,000 times
  • 50,000 companies have joined the program
  • 13.7 million iPhones were sold in 2008
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