Oh snap! iPhone OS 4.0 will be shown off Thursday

If you thought things were crazy with iPad coverage this weekend, get ready for an avalanche of Apple news because the company will be showing off iPhone 4.0 later this week.

Apple didn’t say much about the event except that it will be a “sneak peak into the future of iPhone OS,” but we’re expecting big things from the latest software. First of all, the iPad means we should see more tools for tailoring apps for multiple screen sizes. This bookends well with the rumors that the next iPhone will have a much better screen (iPhone HD anyone?) to match the likes of the Droid and Nexus One.

The last firmware update had a ton of goodies for developers including more than 1,000 new hooks into the hardware and multiple ways to monetize apps. I’d expect that to continue with 4.0, which will inevitably lead to cool new applications for you and me.

Of course, the big effing deal is that many people are expecting Apple to finally put in third-party multitasking – plugging the one major hole in the platform (and the first thing Android fans point out). The early word suggests it will work by tapping the home button twice and then bringing up an Expose-like interface to see which apps are running. Any unlocked iPhone user knows the hardware and software are capable of this, but Apple has long argued that full multitasking eats up battery life and resources. It will be interesting to see how Apple approaches this.

A lot has changed since we saw iPhone OS 3.0 – Android is here to stay and is gaining momentum and Microsoft shook off the cobwebs and is impressing with Windows Phone 7. Apple is still the thought leader in the smartphone space but we are starting to see credible challengers. It has a chance to silence the competitors if this update truly is as “A+” as Steve Jobs said it will be.

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