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Apple CEO Steve Jobs previewed the next operating system for the iPhone, iPod Touch, and iPad today in Cupertino, CA.

The company’s new mobile advertising platform, called iAds, is built into the operating system–application developers will be able to use it to sell ads and will get 60 percent of the revenue.

Mobile advertising is seen as a potential goldmine because, at least in theory, advertisements can be tailored to a person’s precise location and activity.

The announcement will intensify competition between Apple and Google in the mobile arena. The search giant bought the mobile advertising company, AdMob, from under Apple’s nose last November. Shortly after, Apple acquired another mobile advertising firm Quattro Wireless.

The new OS also includes a feature that users have been clamoring after for a while: the ability to perform more than one application task at once.

This will make Apple’s devices a lot more capable. For example, an iPhone user will be able to dash out an email while listening to music with the Pandora app, or make a phone call while location-based software continues to collect and send data.

Multitasking has been a major selling point for Google’s competing Android platform. But Apple’s new operating system won’t be as fully functional as Android. Instead, Apple is exposing multitasking capabilities through several specific application programming interfaces, which means they must be used in specific ways.

Jobs explained the long delay in bringing multitasking to Apple devices by saying that, if not engineered well, these capabilities can drain battery life and introduce performance issues.

The new operating system is expected to come to newer models of the iPhone and iPod Touch this summer, and to the iPad later this fall. Earlier models (including the 2008 iPhone 3G) will not get all the update’s new features.

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Tagged: Computing, Apple, iPhone, Android, iPad, iPod

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