Apple gives fleeting glimpse at next iPhone in latest OS beta

iPhone 3GS

Apple provided another glimpse at what to expect from the next iPhone by releasing a third beta version of its iPhone OS 4.0 operating system yesterday and then promptly withdrawing it.

The Beta 3 release of the all-new OS popped up briefly in the iPhone Dev Centre Apple's official developer area for the iPhone but was quickly removed without explanation, prompting speculation that either Apple had uncovered a last-minute flaw in the software, or that the download had been made available prematurely by mistake.

Either way, the software was available long enough for several eagle-eyed Apple fans to install it and get a closer look at some of the new features expected on the fourth-generation iPhone, which is expected to launch at Apple's Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) next month.

Technology blog Boy Genius Report was among them, and revealed the most significant changes.

First of all, according to its report, Apple has simplified the file transfer process, with files now able to be dragged and dropped between the iPhone and a computer via iTunes provided the app running on the iPhone supports the function.

Multitasking is expected to be one of the cornerstones of iPhone OS 4.0, and the latest beta reveals a new multitasking interface containing a set of iPod widgets for controlling music access without having to access the iPod menu itself. The widgets include basic playback and track selection controls.

Also new is the ability to shut down multitasked apps running in the background without having to switch from the active app. Holding a finger on any app will activate a minus symbol in the corner, which can be used to shut down the app in question.

Lastly, an orientation lock has been introduced into the widget bar to turn off auto-rotation.

iPhone OS 4.0 was unveiled by Steve Jobs a month ago, with the Apple boss promising hundreds of changes to its mobile operating system.

Of course, being a beta release there's no guarantee that these latest features will remain as they are now, or even that they will appear at all. All will no doubt be made clear on June 7, the first day of WWDC.