Apple seeds iOS 4.1 SDK as app downloads top 6.5 billion

Hot on the heels of last week's Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) media event touting the Sept. 8 release of the iOS 4.1 software update, the computing giant seeded the iOS SDK 4.1 Gold Master to registered developers, promising the introduction of new services as well as a host of bug fixes. iOS 4.1 is highlighted by the launch of Apple's long-awaited Game Center service, enabling developers to more effectively incorporate multiplayer gaming tools into their applications--available as both a set of APIs and as a stand-alone iPhone application, Game Center also features social media tools, making it easier for consumers to discover new titles as well as live opponents. According to Apple CEO Steve Jobs, iOS devices now outsell mobile gaming units from traditional videogame giants like Sony and Nintendo.

Also new in iOS 4.1: High Dynamic Range photo capabilities, which Jobs said can combine several different photos, taken quickly together, to produce clearer images. He said the platform also will enable users to upload HD video over WiFi, rather than requiring users to plug their device into a computer. iOS 4.1 additionally fixes bugs impacting the iPhone 4's proximity sensor, Bluetooth capabilities and the performance of the iPhone 3G--users have complained that iOS 4 slowed iPhone 3G devices. Jobs said Apple will unveil iOS 4.2 in November, touting iPad additions like multitasking and folders.

Jobs said Apple has now shipped 120 million iOS devices and activates 230,000 new devices every day, adding the latter figure doesn't include upgrades--a not-so-subtle jab at rival Google, which recently said it activates 200,000 new Android devices a day. ("The Android activation numbers do not include upgrades and are, in fact, only a portion of the Android devices in the market since we only include devices that have Google services," Google told Fortune in response to Jobs' comment.) Apple's App Store now offers consumers their choice of more than 250,000 applications--downloads from the digital storefront total 6.5 billion.

For more on the iOS 4.1 SDK:
- check out the iOS Dev Center

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