As you likely know by now, Apple has released information about its new tablet, the iPad, as well as releasing a beta software development kit (SDK), to iPhone developers. This SDK is full of new features, many of which may trickle down to the iPhone. Neowin has gained access to the documents surrounding this new SDK, including the new features for developers.
The most interesting new feature that iPhone OS 3.2 presents is file sharing. When an application wants to save documents, it can now add them to the shared directory. When an iPad, or possibly an iPhone (in the future), is plugged into a Mac or PC, it will show this shared directory in the Finder or Windows Explorer, respectively.
You may not think this is a big feature, but for apps which have struggled since the launch of the App Store to sync information with an iPhone, this change is huge. Rather than doing a complicated hookup that requires user interaction for each and every sync, and works over wifi, an application can now save updated settings directly onto an iPad, automatically.
Through "CoreText", Apple has improved its text rendering on the iPad, and presumably the iPhone and iPod Touch as well. This new framework allows developers to do more with text, and seems to be what powers much of the functionality in Apple's new iWork suite on the iPad. Text rendering is supposedly improved, and control over layout is as well.
Trickle down to iPhone and iPod Touch?
The new SDK allows for "universal applications" - that is, it allows developers to create applications that work in a compact mode for iPhone and iPod Touch, and a more expanded mode on the iPad. From this, we can derive that a new iPhone OS absolutely must be released for iPhone and iPod Touch before the iPad releases, in late March. iPhone OS 3.1.2 presumably will not run these new "universal applications" - they have to be developed on the iPhone 3.2 SDK. However, Apple has been very consistent throughout the new documentation: iPhone OS 3.2 is only for the iPad. So expect news regarding iPhone OS 4.0 before the end of March.
You may recall that when the initial SDK was released in March of 2008, iPhone OS 1.4 was what developers were expected to develop applications on (unless they bought access to the iPhone developer program). Applications were never released for this OS, however - only for OS 2.0, with the App Store, were these apps published. In the same way the iPhone OS 1.4 SDK was a stopgap solution, iPhone OS 3.2 likely is as well. This OS may never see the light of day, in other words.