Apple plans iPhone 3.0 preview next week

Sends invites for March 17 sneak peek of next iPhone OS

Apple announced Thursday that it will preview a new version of its iPhone software on Tuesday, March 17.

"Get an advance preview of what we're building," read an e-mailed invitation to reporters early Thursday. "Join us at an invitation-only event to learn about the new SDK and get a sneak peek at the iPhone OS 3.0 software."

The event, which will be held on Apple's Cupertino, California campus, is slated to kick off at 10am USPT.

Although there have been rumors that Apple will launch a new iPhone this year, perhaps at its annual Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC), little has leaked about an operating system upgrade or the SDK (software developers kit) necessary to support new features it might have. This year's WWDC has not yet been officially scheduled, but it has been held during the first half of June the past two years.

Recent reports pegged WWDC as running from June 6-12, with the keynote -- where CEO Steve Jobs has traditionally trotted out major new products -- likely on June 8.

Apple last updated the iPhone software in November 2008 when it pushed the operating system to Version 2.2 as it patched a dozen security vulnerabilities and added several new features, including Google Street Views to the Smartphone's mapping application.

Prior to that, July 2008's iPhone 2.0 was the last major upgrade. That edition, which coincided with the launch of the new iPhone 3G, added access to the online App Store, let users install third-party applications, and provided synchronization to either corporate servers or Apple's revamped online service, MobileMe.

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