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New iPhone OS 3.0 beta comes with extra goodies

Developers installing the newest iPhone OS 3.0 beta got a surprise: a pre-release version of iTunes 8.2, which has hints of some surprising new features for iTunes application on the device and its desktop counterpart.

The new iPhone OS version reduces the handset’s dependence on a host PC. A new “Store” menu lets users sign in and out of their iTunes accounts (rather than rely on the desktop version of iTunes) as well as view and change credit card information. Apple needs only to add wireless syncing to further reduce host PC dependence.

On the desktop iTunes front, many blogs (including The Apple Blog) have noticed that the legalese in the about box now mentions DVD and (gasp!) Blu-Ray playback. This is an intriguing development: current versions of iTunes don’t mention either format, so perhaps Apple is planning to add DVD and Blu-Ray playback into the next version of iTunes and eliminate the separate DVD Player application. After all, it doesn’t make much sense to call the program “DVD Player” if Apple plans to add Blu-Ray players to its computers.

There is also another, more intriguing possibility: Apple might be planning to let users import DVD and Blu-Ray movies directly into iTunes for later playback without the disc — and download onto an iPod or iPhone.

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