Update: Users will be able to upgrade the iPhone 3G, 3GS, and iPod touch for free on June 21st.

If you thought it was starting to sound silly referring to the operating system that runs the iPod touch and iPad as the iPhone OS… apparently you weren’t alone. Today Apple announced that moving forward the OS will have a new name. The next-generation mobile operating system for the iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad will be known as iOS 4.

We already knew most of the features that will be integrated in iOS 4. Steve Jobs announced them when introducing the OS-that-used-to-be-called iPhone OS 4 a few months ago.

The big new features will including support for multitasking, support for tethering, folders for your home screen icons, a unified inbox for the Mail app, and support for threaded messages, as well as the new iad advertising platform.

Steve Jobs also announced that while the next-generation operating system will keep Google as the default search engine, users will now be able to choose to use Bing instead. Yahoo has already been available from the settings menu for a while.

As expected, Apple will also be rolling out a version of the iBooks eBook store and reader for the iPhone and iPod touch. At launch iBooks was only available for the iPad. One cool, but obvious feature is that iBooks will allow you to purchase a book once and download it to multiple devices. Users will be able to synchronize their notes, bookmarks, and last read pages across all their iDevices, which means you can start reading a book on your iPad and pick up where you left off on your iPhone. That’s not exactly a unique feature — the Amazon Kindle software works the same way.

The iOS 4 “Golden Master” release candidate is available for developers to download today.

You can find a few more photos after the break.

via gdgt and Engadget

Brad Linder

Brad Linder is editor of Liliputing and Mobiputing. He's been tinkering with mobile tech for decades and writing about it since...

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