seems like world+dog have suddenly become iPhone devs and are all trying to hit the download site at once. at this rate, us devs won't get to see it before summer either!!
The new iPhone 3.0 software will introduce copy-and-paste options, spotlight search, background notifications, stereo Bluetooth, MMS messages, and third-party access to the device's map application. Apple's third major software release for the iPhone was previewed today for a press gathering at the company's HQ in Cupertino. …
Looks like a very solid update. Things like micropayments, hardware integration, map integration, etc. will open up all sorts of interesting third party applications. It's starting to look a lot less like a phone and a lot more like a general purpose, portable, always connected computing device.
I tried the BB storm first but poor IMAP support (no folders or sent box on a non-enterprise one) made me send it back. MMS wasnt a bother but Cut n Paste is a pain, as was no search. Id used a palm for years but it broke so needed to replace. Now wiht CnP and search I feel I have something my palm did and so much more. Notes sync is good but im now an evernote user so starting to buy into the whole cloud sync thing (mind you reception issues are blighting that)
Its all a bit late for some, but as an Iphone user of 2 weeks this is great news.
I'm a bit concerned about how this copy & paste is going to work in Safari, I'm rather attached to what double tapping currently does, i.e. it zooms into the tapped paragraph so that it fits the screen width perfectly.
If the copy & paste functionality overrides that I will be most displeased. Why couldn't they use tap and hold on a word to start the copy & paste functionality? That seems more intuitive to me...
Still, it's nice to hear about enhanced YouTube support, I'm hoping my account's playlists will be accessible from the device. I just wish they'd made some headway on Flash...
For once the reality lives up to the hype. The bluetooth improvement is a big surprise, although it's not surprising that it's not opened up completely.
The biggest news is surely the hardware link. It sounds like Apple are giving their blessing for all kinds of third party add-ons to be developed. I'm sure it won't be long until there'll be loads of cheap iOddities flooding out of Asia. What's the betting on an iVibrator being one of the first?
My only disappointment is that I can't won't be able to get stereo bluetooth goodness from my original iPhone, but I suppose that's probably a hardware limitation.
Oh and my first reaction to in-app micropayments is, I hope they have the security tight. It wouldn't be too hard to create a fake password request.
Cut and paste is coming and I for one am thankful. Not necessarily because I thought it was a deal breaking exclusion, but because as soon as it's released all the commetards around the world will no longer be able to trot out that same tired bull shit excuse and will have to move on to something else.
> $10 for the iPod Touch? Why?
Er, because software costs money to develop. Was Windows Vista a free upgrade? Apple gets money from phone contracts to cover on-going iPhone software updates.
> alternative to this locked-down dictatorial 30% of your graft is ours for the taking
Yeah, cos taking card payments, hosting, bandwidth & running the iTunes store is free right? I suppose you could do it cheaper?
> MMS only for 3G due to hardware limitations??
Yep. Apparently MMS is sent using a different radio chip which the 1st gen doesn't possess.
I'm looking forward to the update - loads of little things that will really help. I think the potential for the bluetooth, dock connector and turn by turn navigation are massive.
I'd pay a fair amount of money for TomTom for the iPhone - if it was done well. I don't think I'd pay the £87 they charge for TomTom Navigator on other phones though...
It'll be interesting to see what they bring to the table next year...
$10 for iPod yes how poor your memory is. This has been brought up many times. There is a law in place preventing upgrades that add new features to consumer devices after they have been sold. Bizzare but true. Mobiles are exempt so free for the phone but all other devices pay a fee that covers all the costs involved only got processing and collecting the fee under the regulation. That's why you are not charged $120 for a new OS. Patches and bug fixed can be distributed so no charge for updates to the existing OS.
Really? SJ finally managed to create that clone from his DNA and some scraps of SW he saved while they were working together, or what?
On a serious note, it sounds like the iPhone is finally becoming something to possibly consider. Now if only my employer would allow any access to e-mail other than through Blackberries...
Since the iPod Touch isn't a subscription based device the Sarbanes-Oxley Act forces Apple to charge for any feature upgrades to an existing device. Yes, it's a problem, but don't get mad at Apple, they have no choice.
Keep in mind, once the update is released... it will be all over bit torrent, so if you want to screw the Government, you'll have that option :)
... other phone manufacturers and phone OS producers have got no place to hide.
I don't really like the iphone for quite genuine reasons to do with my specific needs from a device, BUT thank god for the iphone. Look what it has done to the mobile market. With copy and paste the other companies have got no places left to hide and no excuses left to make with rubbish/ badly put together phone features and their 'let them live with it' attitude.
Now how nice would that be? Useful calendars, that's unheard of...
I have to say this update eliminates a whole bunch of serious shortcomings. Won't help though if I am still supposed to have T-Mobile sink their rusted harpoon in my rectum to extract whatever money possible. German tariffs are a sick joke. You hear that, Palm?
...what a bit of competition will do. Version 2 appears - it's got some glaring ommissions on an otherwise pretty good device. With Android etc coming out, along with better interfaces for Windows Mobile, Apple decide to get off their backsides and fill in the blanks for version 3.
Oh, wouldn't touch Android. It's crap. But you get what you pay for - I'd sooner go Windows than Android.
Good to sese all those improvements, particulalrly pleased to se cut and paste, however, where are the improvememts to the camera? Surely this has to be the most requested upgrade to the 3G.
Also, it would be really nice if you could change the callendar alert sound for something that is actually audible.
OK, that last one is a bit nitpicky, but still, it wouldn't be hard to implement would it?
* No video
* Extremely Low Quality Still Camera
* Poor Battery Life
* Painfully slow access via Edge / 3G
I'm sorry announcing cut-and-paste & MMS amounts to a patch of some notable and embarassing feature omissions and yet the Apple hype machine attempts to <hotair>bru-haha it up</hotair> like its some kind of giant technological leap forward...
"The 3.0 update will give developers access to third-party hardware peripherals using the iPhone or iPod Touch's dock connector."
does this mean we'll be able to - shockers - use it as a USB drive?! for all the kerfuffle about cut'n'paste this is the thing I miss most.
(Yes, you can get apps that do similar things over wi-fi, which our office network and PCs do not have)
Apple spend probably millions of dollars on the development of the upgrades to the software so I fail to see why they shouldn't claw some of it back. iPhone users are already paying for it with their higher purchase prices and line rentals. Also whats $10 for all that added functionality, same applies to you as it did to all those moaning about the price of the iPhone, don't wanna buy it, don't. End of discussion.
Otherwise it looks like a superb set of updates and well done Apple for continuing the support of the device and making it better and better.
And to Mr Android, overpriced crap hardware? Have you SEEN the G1?? Now that is crap!!
Still can't believe so many iPhone "haters" insist on reading every article about it. You don't like it, we get it, so PLEASE STOP READING THE FLIPPIN ARTICLES!!!! Sheesh.
... "The Worlds most Advanced Mobile Phone" has finally caught up with the rest of the world (5 years ago)?
Well, like someone's said above, it does get rid of a lot of the normal complaints about the iPhone. Though you can bet your life it wouldn't have happenned if all the "commentards" hadn't kept going on about it.
It's pretty good looking and is now almost high-tech- it's close enough that you probably wouldn't notice the missing bits in day-to-day life coming from a more tech-full mobile. I feel dirty for saying it, but the iPhone is now almost tempting. If I could write my own apps for it to fill the gaps without paying apple a chunk of cash then I'd definately be tempted.
Help me HTC! Save my soul from this demonic Jobsian siren!
Yay! Copy and Paste, System wide search and Stereo Bluetooth! Not to forget the landscape keyboard and MMS!
All that's left is the filesystem access (transfer files over wifi/BT/USB), background process support, a non-flaky Outlook sync (actually a working mail sync in any form), a browser that can do "save link as..", and editing documents. And where is the replaceable battery, when the juice runs out in the middle of the day or on the road? How about some form of icon grouping (a.k.a. folders) for the launcher, or is this reserved for 4.0?
Lovely UI, solid improvement, sadly still too locked down and crippled. Clunky old WinMo for me for some time..
Paris, for she is flexible.
Also worth mentioning here is my objection to Apple having such a closed lock-in mentality (worse actually than Microsoft).
A simple example - I want to use one of my .mp3 as a ringtone on my iPhone. Guess what? You can't do that (at least officially - there is of course a grey market in dodgy cracks software to meet the user need ). iRingtones (or some similar marketing guff) are available exclusively from Apple store at a price of $$$$$.
On my nokia N95 i could set any .mp3 as ringtone. The iPhone is certainly capable of playing any sound of my choosing as ringtone. Why do Apple think they are justified in deliberatly and unecessarily restricting my device to only playing sounds of their choosing?
It is this kind of closed, lock-in, anti-competitive money grabbing "platform" mentality and snide business practises that really puts me off Apple.
Paris - cause she gets more shafted by Jobs than by Gates...
In the Q&A section at the end of the presentation they also mentioned that tethering to a laptop/netbook/whatever was also being implemented but I expect they need to get the comms providers to sort something out on this. Also MMS isnt included in the O2 bundle so I wonder how the propose to include it.... fun fun fun!
> Good to sese all those improvements, particulalrly pleased to se cut and paste, however, where are the improvememts to the camera?
This is the iPhone v3.0 SOFTWARE update for existing devices. You can't improve camera HARDWARE via a software update.
Apple have not (yet) announced any iPhone hardware updates. They're rumoured to be coming in June.
@AC 08:31 GMT
> SMS forwarding?
Yes, that's in there.
Sorry, but I cant help feeling that Apple have let the boat go on this one.
Push messaging instead of background tasks? No decent app organisation structure (instead of 10000s of apps cluttered around multtiple screens), no video recording, no home screen (proper with summary of upcomming events, messages received etc). What are they on?
Take a look at WebOS from palm - it's doing everything we want iPhone 3.0 to do and more, right from the getgo.
I doubt the Pre will be as popular as the iPhone but then what will be?
Tethering: is a network issue. Apple insists on carriers giving unlimited data contracts. With tethering they can't do an acceptable contract price, and with 20 million iPhones, a tethering free-for-all would have serious service quality implications as well.
Catching up with other phones: iPhone never was a phone - voice is such a small part of the service offering - surely you geeks knew that - it's an internet device with a small but important legacy voice feature. Apple didn't arrogantly refuse to implement MMS etc and then get forced by the market; they rationally decided not to include features at the outset (such as MMS) which are the legacy voice network's half baked alternative to the internet.
@Steve "closed, profiteering Apple": If you knew what you were talking about, you'd understand that Apple doesn't care in the least about your ring tones and simply sacrificed them for the greater good. Apple vigourously defends its own IP and the profits made from it, but also vigourously fights for the individual customer's best interests, fully supporting open content formats, and freedom from DRM where the content owner allows it. In the context of ring tones, it's the carriers who wanted to carry on profiteering from ring tones, and Apple successfully won the big issues for the user (unlimited data contracts, no carrier walled garden) at the cost of leaving alone the carriers fat fees for ring tones. I'm grateful for what they've done, but of course one must be ever vigilant that Apple doesn't ever turn into the kind of company that despises and exploits its customers (dare I say Sky, Virgin, BT, Microsoft, cellphone carriers?). The fact is that Apple have forced the carriers to offer better terms to all smartphone users by being strong.
Consider what Apple has achieved since issuing their "change the world" manifesto:
It's already a better phone than most others, with these all the commentards will be able to STFU about the features it lacked that they'd use maybe once....
The only bit that really interests me from the above is the possibility of Turn by Turn navogation... hopefully Garmin can get their act together so we get something decent!
As for copy and paste, landscape keyboard and MMS i have them already thanks to Cydia....
I have loads of ringtones gleaned from my own collection. I just use Apple's Garageband where I can sample, trim and save as ringtones.
Some contributors will NEVER be satisfied with the iPhone because it doesn't have some feature or other that their preferred phone has. So what? Don't buy one! Leave the iPhone to (fill in pejorative) people like me who just LOVE the way it works and take great pleasure in watching the other manufacturers try to emulate it. As for Apple, some wouldn't buy anything from that brand because they don't like the company. So what? It's a giant corporation, FFS. They want your money and mine just like every other giant corporation. So some people go along with the hype ... so what? Some people believe Steve Ballmer/Jobs! So what?
If for no other reason, the naysayers should be grateful the iPhone has woken up an industry which disregarded customers and treated them as morons. Personally, I welcome 'me too' phones from RIM, Nokia, LG et al. – WE are the beneficiaries, and it has taken the iPhone to bring them about, to drag others out of their torpor.
Oh, by the way, the iPhone 3.0 STILL doesn't help you get a girl/boy friend!
Read the comments and you'll find the answer. It sucks, but blame those responsible.
@all the whiners
As someone else said, if the iPhone came with money, you'd hate it. We get it. You don't like Apple. Now, fuck off. You are all really dull. If you dislike something so much, why waste energy expressing and persuing it? I don't like using Microsoft products, and avoid them where I can, I don't go up to people that use Microsoft products and tell the that they are stupid as a result. That would be rude.
All in all it appears Apple have listened to critism and acted upon it. I don't think we will see true multitasking until the battery life is improved significantly. Those of you that suggest that Windows Mobile does this well have had a better experience than me. Several resets a day AND battery life that makes the iPhone apper as if it has it's own built in generator made my experience with Windows Mobile a miserable one, not to forget the poor build quality of the HTC handset. Finally for those of you that wanted mms on the iPhone in the UK, 30p per message versus free per email, I know what I'll continue to use.
seems to me that everybody complaining about the iPhone's shortcomings on here don't own one. I dropped my N95 for the iPhone, and aside from the camera, there really isn't alot I miss from N95, and recently I was forced to fix my girlfriends N95 (the fragile screen cracked, this is after the sliding mechanism broke, and after the phone had an odd "charging" bug with most recent update btw, so they aren't all stable phones).... thing that struck me is how hard it was to get back into the thing... Symbian is very basic and fiddly, even if it does tick all boxes on a tech sheet.
The iPhone isn't perfect, but neither is any phone, and what the phone does, it does very well... which is less than I can say for any other phone I've owned, other than maybe my old 3210...
My nephew has an iPhone Touch. He left it on a seat and then sat on it. The glass screen cracked.
This shows the iPod Touch is rubbish. Where's the self-repairing screen I had on my N956S? Where's the automatic arse detector we were promised in the Steve Jobs keynote? Where's the voice alert "Warning, you are about to crack the screen"?
I despair. Windows Mobile for me every time.
What is Apple coming to?
We're all gonna die ...
and on, and on, and on ....
It's got A2DP support and that was all I'm after. I can't believe copy and paste was a big issue for some people??? What the f for? I have never thought I sure could go for some copy and paste action right now.
Tethering will be support, but o2 will kindly shaft us on that. MMS is a much needed addition good (HA! to orginal iPhone users who can't use it!)
And @ Ascylto everyone knows that nothing brings all the girls to the yard like a 1000 new API's.
However, other smartphones have had these features for ages now. So, what Apple is basically saying with this update is that, "We rushed the iPhone to market the first time. And, now, we've finally got the product finalized before we move on to it's next incarnation. Thank you, for beta testing for us and for paying us to do so". Fuckin' wankers!
I knew I didn't like Jobs for a very good reason! Now, I know exactly why.
...does not explain why UK users should need to pay !!!
Although it may not look like it... it's jurisdiction is restricted to the USA.
Actually the whole legal argument doesn't make sense... loads of things get increased functionality from software updates for free...sounds like bollocks.
"of course one must be ever vigilant that Apple doesn't ever turn into the kind of company that despises and exploits its customers (dare I say Sky, Virgin, BT, Microsoft, cellphone carriers?)"
You, sir, owe me a new keyboard and monitor! Funniest thing I've heard in ages!!
Bravo, bravo - for the Yanks out there, irony at its best!
You don't need to do anything unofficial to get an mp3 as a ringtone, though admittedly you do have to jump through some hoops. It can all be done using iTunes - just right click the mp3 you want and use Get Info to set the start/stop times for the (up to) 30 secs you want and then export it as AAC. Find the file in the iTunes music folder and copy it to the desktop, then back in iTunes delete the AAC version from the library. Back to the desktop rename the .m4a file to .m4r and then simply double click it to add it to iTunes library as a ringtone and sync up your phone (you can then remove the .m4r file from the desktop as it has been copied to the itunes directory).
I expect Apple to make a new versions of the iPhone and iPod Touch hardware sometime this summer, and at the same time add new models, such as the speculated large-screen iPod/iBook. The hardware upgrade will probably fix some of the issues such as camera resolution, video etc. that people have been complaining about and probably feature faster processor and graphics chips. I expect them to be thinner too. Some of the OS upgrades may be in preparation for these new models.
Looking good, although where is the Flash plugin? Dunno whether I should be glaring at Adobe or Apple for this one...
Looking forward to seeing what kinds of cross-app and hardware peripheral integration comes along.
Never owned anything from Apple before, but on the basis of the iphone I am hankering after a Macbook of some description.
For any iPhone 3g users that are being ripped off by purchasing ringtones from iTunes. Check out iRinger (free software) sends 30sec clips to iTunes for use as 'tones.
On a separate note.
Im glad to see there have been some (fairly major) updates announced, but am i surprised that the feature list is still incomplete? Not in the slightest.
Imagine you are a (primerily) hardware company, (who also deal in hardware specific software), you spend years developing a piece of kit, that for 'arguments sake' is perfect. You then spend another couple of years developing the software to get the most out of the 'awsome' piece of kit you slaved over. The time comes and you release your wonder object to the public, and everyone goes ice cold thick banna whips for it. Millions are sold in the first month, then all of a sudden, nothing, no new purchases, no request for new features, it all just stops. You have developed yourself out of the market.
Now imagine that in a similar scenario, you develop the exact same bit of kit, but you decide that the camera can be a little less 'good', that you can tune down the battery a little, and while your at it, lest make that a non-replaceable battery etc etc.... Now look through your perfect software, take out this feature, leave out that option etc... Then the time comes and you release your wonder object to the public, and everyone goes ice cold thick banna whips for it. Millions are sold in the first month, then all of a sudden, people start to notice the missing features, users start to complain and request newer, better features.
You then add in new features (not all of them mind you) and release either a newer more feature packed object, or better software (but not perfect). Giving you millions of more sales, to those who didnt buy the first one, and also to those who wish to upgrade.
Think about it, there is not future market for a perfect device.
Interesting point whether Sarbanes-Oxley means Apple have to charge for the iPhone Touch update over here. I suspect it probably does. The legislation is nothing to do with consumers, in the USA or anywhere else, but is there (at least in theory) to protect Apple's shareholders.
If Apple account for revenue on iPod Touches as having been "earned" in one year but then provide free feature enhancements the next year then (so the argument goes) they were fraudulently claiming income they haven't yet earned. So yes, they do need to charge for upgrades anywhere in the world (at least, without lots of complicated special case accounting in their annual tax filings).
"iPhone users are already paying for it with their higher purchase prices and line rentals."
A quick browse of the O2 site says that I can get an 8GB iPhone with 75 minutes, 125 texts and unlimited web access for £29.38/month and £96.89 upfront for the iPhone. The equivalent non-iPhone contract is £2.46 less per month. So, the iPhone user here is effectively paying (over the 18 month contract) a total of £141.17 for the iPhone. Which is pretty much the same as the cheapest online prices for an 8GB iPod Touch, and about 20 quid less than most places (Apple included) expect you to pay for one. And if our iPhone user is a particularly heavy phone user, and could justify spending more each month on their contract, they'd be paying even less (nothing at all with some contracts) for the hardware...
Now sure, the overall price they're paying is higher, but if they weren't paying for the iPhone contract they'd be paying for some other mobile contract anyway (I can't imagine why anyone would fork out for an iPhone+contract if they weren't interested in having a mobile contract and just wanted the hardware...), so it seems fair to separate the contract costs and hardware costs for this comparison.
You can use any MP3 file to make free ringtones for the iPhone, Apple even has a menu choice for it in Garageband, and in iTunes it's just a couple step process, all free... google: itunes free ringtone
Sure, Apple has a for pay feature too, but to suggest Apple is somehow locking you out of adding free ringtones to your iPhone is simply incorrect.
Yes, the law applies in the USA only, but the law relates to how Apple handles the *accounting* for its iPhone and iPod Touch sales, and therefore applies regardless of where the devices are sold.
The law basically says that a company cannot immediately realise the income of an "incomplete" product. If after selling a product a company provides *free* updates that add significant new functionality (not just minor changes and bug fixes) then the original product is deemed to have been incomplete (legally). The law says that a company must realise the income from such "incomplete" products over a 24 month period. This is called the subscription accounting model because it assumes that the buyer of the product is paying for a product over time and not all up front (regardless of how the product is actually paid for). Apple chose to use the subscription accounting model for iPhone sales, hence it can offer free software updates for iPhones. Apple chose the "normal" accounting model for iPod Touch sales which means it can realise the income from those sales the moment they happen. However, this means that they are obliged by law to levy a charge for any significant software upgrades.
@AC: re So...
"If I could write my own apps for it to fill the gaps without paying apple a chunk of cash then I'd definately be tempted."
If you just want to write your own apps for your own use (and not sell them on the App Store) then you don't have to pay Apple anything. Just register (free), download the SDK and start hacking away.
So still stuck in the 80s where operating systems just ran one program at a time then.
"extra strain on the processor would cut down battery life" so they say. My arse. Process and thread switching algorithms won't necessarily stress the CPU and battery any more if done right, and especially if background tasks are throttled. They might slow down the foreground app as both contend for the same resource. However a lot of background apps, if well designed, don't need to be thrashing the CPU all the time anyway, they can just chip in during idle time if they're not doing anything urgent.
Besides S60 and Windows Mobile seem to do okay with it (biggest problem for them is memory, not battery life when it comes to background apps. The real killer for the battery is comms). Though of course those phones have the luxury of being able to swap the battery should it die on you and you're not near a power supply! ;)
It's not even that it's not a multitasking capable OS. It is (or the kernel is). It's just that as usual, Apple dictate what users and developers can and can't do with their products. That's what makes them so different from the likes of MS, Nokia or maybe even Google. Apple's products are a bit like buying a show home where the developer insists you can't make any changes to the interior of the house. You just have to live with their design.
Really I think Apple just fear letting developers do what they like because suddenly their products won't perform as amazingly well as they'd like. Then people start realising just why Apple kit looks so great. Smoke and mirrors.
People who hate apple and the iPhone, well why are you reading this for, if all you are going to do is post your unthough, unreasoned petty attacks.
Apple upped the ante when it came to mobile phones, which other manufacturer made a phone that was completely touch screen, which company made it so easy to install and uninstall applications on your phone and which company made it so easy to use your music library, that did not need you to scroll though thousands of tracks, instead you could just flick through your cover art and select the track! Which phone allows you to resize photos just using two fingers!
Now, dont get me wrong, the iPhone isnt perfect, but i would much rather use my iPhone than switch if for a bastardised version of windows, that is nowhere near as good as the iPhone OS!
Even the Android, OS, is good but it still cannot compete with Apple.
So i dare you to find me an equivelent phone!!!!!
"Apple upped the ante when it came to mobile phones, which other manufacturer made a phone that was completely touch screen, which company made it so easy to install and uninstall applications on your phone and which company made it so easy to use your music library, that did not need you to scroll though thousands of tracks, instead you could just flick through your cover art and select the track! Which phone allows you to resize photos just using two fingers!"
Other manufacturers were too busy concentrating on making phones do what phones do best. Making calls! ;)
What Apple provided was a very sexy sleek UI which beat the crap out of all other manufacturers. It is very nice I will admit. But it's just the same as everything else with Apple. It's like Safari 4. It is now (after much complaint about earlier Safari versions) Google Chrome but with shiny fluff you don't need. Looks nice, but that's about it.
For all the sexy UI, the iPhone won't give me a GPS mapping application that caches entire continents worth of preloaded maps so I don't have to use an Internet connection to look at maps, provide navigation, and won't let me jump out to fire up the browser, read a Word document and/or do GPS sports tracking at the same time the map app is running with GPS active. Sports tracker mulit-tasking in particular on Nokia devices is great. Have it stay in the background tracking whilst you do other things on the phone, even listen to music, make calls & surf the web.
In fact Google Latitude is noticeably still absent from the iPhone. Why? Key to Latitude on a phone is multitasking, so it can update your location regardless of what you are doing on the phone and even if it's sat in your pocket sleeping. Even my 3 year old S60 based Nokia can do this with a fraction of the price and power.
The iPhone can run 2 applications at the same time. I can happily browse my menus while listening to the iPod app, my calendar will still alarm no matter what app is open, my stopclock will tick away, the phone will ring, I will get voice alerts, etc.
The "NO 2 APPS RUNNING" screamers should know the catch here is that 3rd party applications cannot run in the background, which is fine, as the only application most would want running at the same time would be music playing while they browsed the web or something.
"The "NO 2 APPS RUNNING" screamers should know the catch here is that 3rd party applications cannot run in the background, which is fine, as the only application most would want running at the same time would be music playing while they browsed the web or something."
Wouldn't work in the Nokia Sports Tracker scenario then. The beauty of this kind of app is you can have it sat in the background tracking your every movement via GPS, and yet can work on other foreground apps at the same time.
Okay, Nokia provided this one, but by the sounds of it such a similar app on the iPhone will come from a 3rd party. So means foreground only.
As an example, when I go skiing, I use Nokia Sports Tracker, launch it, put it in the background, and go off down the slopes leaving it running most of the day. It's constantly tracking and whenever I stop I can dive in to other apps (e.g. I might want to browse the web in the restaurant, or I could be stopped on the slope and want to view a PDF piste map). Similar is when doing walks or cycling, having a document with a route plan or guide open, whilst tracking at the same time. There's a mashup kind of potential too where you could have independent tracking apps feeding data somewhere. e.g. Google Lattitude and Sports Tracker, or either of those plus a navigation app (in Nokia's world, e.g. Nokia Maps), whilst driving to combine nagivation and tracking.
These are just a tiny example, but there are hundreds of other potential cases where you want a 3rd party app in the background (Google Lattitude being a prime example and the reason why Google has not offered it for the iPhone yet).
Until you've had the ability though you probably won't realise just why you need it. If you're coming from another phone platform it becomes an obvious omission. It doesn't exactly encourage migration to Apple (but then competitors aren't Apple's potential customers. Apple devotees are).