Apple Inc. Chief Executive Steve Jobs once again took the stage to show off a bevy of enhanced software features that will launch this summer on the iPhone family of devices.
The most talked-about feature of the new operating system was the iAd mobile advertising platform. But the system will also allow users to play games against one another in real time, better organize their devices' programs and run several of the phone's programs at once, or multitask -- a capability whose absence iPhone critics had long bemoaned.
It was one of the most anticipated of the features the company announced for the popular device on Thursday, and would allow consumers to simultaneously make a Skype phone call, search for a restaurant through Yelp and check their bank balance online. (Previously, people essentially had to quit one program before starting another.)
"We're not going to be the first to this party," Jobs said. "But we're going to be the best."
For nearly two years, rival Google Inc. has offered multitasking capabilities on phones that run on its Android operating system. It has taken a while for Apple to catch up, because it had to figure out a way to let users run multiple data-intensive programs without draining the iPhone's small battery.
Among the other features announced were an enhanced e-mail program and a method for automatically syncing e-books between multiple Apple devices, so readers can move from their phone to their tablet without missing a page.
The new version will also let gamers invite one another to play live games via their Apple device.
The new iPhone operating system will not be available for the iPad until later in the year.