What do you see in the iPhone 4.0 event artwork?

iPhone 4.0 Event

Apple's iPhone 4.0 sneak preview event invitation features the number four, though its shown in the corner, mostly cut off, identifiable only by its shadow.

The iPhone 2.0 event featured a road map apropos of the SDK introduction. The iPhone 3.0 event featured blueprints, perhaps a nod to the construction going on within the OS.

What then to make of iPhone 4.0's artwork? Dieter stared at it for a couple minutes to glean what he could and came up with this: the 4 is in the background. Shadows are typically in the background.

Are we reading too much into it? Are you reading something different? Share your best guesses in the comments!

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Rene Ritchie

EiC of iMore, EP of Mobile Nations, Apple analyst, co-host of Debug, Iterate, Vector, Review, and MacBreak Weekly podcasts. Cook, grappler, photon wrangler. Follow him on Twitter and Google+.

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Reader comments

What do you see in the iPhone 4.0 event artwork?


I personaly think it's going to be an amazing update, free or available to purchase. As long as multitasking, rotation on the home screen and wallpapers for the home screen are aloud I'm updating! Anyone know, can we watch the keynote thursday!!!!???

I don't think he's crazy at all. Everything Apple does is very well thought out. Gruber has all but confirmed background apps in this 4.0 release and as I think it could have been done is 3.0, I'm all but certain as well.

Seriously need a nice, full featured Today screen showing weather, upcoming appointments, emails, etc.

Sorry, it needed to be done. Or someone else would have done it.
Since the 4 has a big shadow. It must mean something big.

You can't see it Mitchell? geo coldz is right, it's right there...
Anyways, I see the 4 in the background, like Dieter. Maybe thy means what you see won't be what is updated; I.e. improvemts with speed/functionality, not neccesarily UI.
Functionality=Multitasking. :)

I agree with Geo, it's gotta be a major update. Plus, there is only half of the 4 missing, which might suggest that apple knows it's been missing for ages, now the shadow of the 4 is there to show it's here, and it's bloody big !

I thought it was representative of the multitasking, where the number 4 is in the background (essentially out of sight) like how 3rd party apps will also soon be allowed in the background. However, it most likely has to do with the wording. We get a sneak peak of the number 4, but we can't see it all, yet.
It was like the iPad invitations. Everyone thought the splattered paint meant something. Turns out it was just because they used the word "creation" in the invitation.

I see the bottom of the 4 then the shadow that is displayed could mean multitasking. 4.0 will more than likely gives us the rumored multitasking that we have all wanted for awhile now. and the blue background that looks clean and inviting? were going to see a new UI for the dash on the iphone.

Makes me think of a dawn of a new era type thing. The sun rising (or setting, but not for this argument because the light is casting the shadow left the same way the sun would cast your shadow rising from the East) provides the longest shadow in the day. Imagine the four being on a hill with the sun just rising in the new day. Also seeing it from the back could signify how this will only be a sample, not the full face of it all. Just a crazy metaphorically laced thought.

iPhone OS 4.0 casting a shadow on the US (world) meaning exclusivity is over and will be available on all 4 major carriers.

As much as I would LOVE to have the improved funtionality and multitasking and all of the other wonderful improvements that the rumor speculate, I have a strong feeling that this will be just lime every other Apple release; we're going to get a ton of great things but very few will be anything we expect. We can assume all day long what the picture is implying about 4.0, but in the end very few of us will have been correct. Ther IS always the chance that this time Apple WILL give us exactly what we hope for (if not I know they will be losing customers) but only time will tell. Either way, I'm excited to see what's in store for all of us and I'll welcome it with open... Well... Thumbs. Lol.

It means its just a shadow of what is to come, and its still not in the picture yet.
It casts a big shadow over the phone land, but not today. Its not hear yet.
Its just a hint of what is coming, something to keep you from jumping ship to Android.
But most likely some marketing air-head graphic artist just needed to come up with something, and the fanboys all fawn over it like it had some real meaning.

I think it represents the age old battle between good and evil. You see, on one side there is Jacob, and on the other side is the smoke monster....oh, wait. Wrong topic. Sorry.

I see the Beatles - the four is symbolic of the fab four. Their music still casts a shadow over everyone making music today. Steve is going to announce the exclusive release of the Beatles catalogue on iTunes.
That and safari on the iPhone is going to seem a little snappier.

I think only a portion of the 4 is exposed because that's about all the information apple will release of the new OS. The shadow represent the amount of predictions that will be made by "iPhone experts" based of the little bit of information apple will actually release.
Sent from my iPhone 3.1.2 jailbroken

Initially looking at it, I saw the 4 in the shadow. However if you "read it" from the bottom left to upper right hand corners it looks like an 'A '.

I just really want multitasking and the ability to let me change my new mail notification sound...there are millions of iPhones in the world and ONE new mail sound..please let me change that without jb'ing

I feel that the color and the way the four is located looks like facebook logo. It might suggest more social networking like the Android Platform allows on the home screen. I know I don't want that either but that is what it looks like to me.

Okay I'll try one more time. I saw an A(Plus). Apparently you can not use the plus symbol in the comment section.

Can anyone tell me the purpose of a rotating to
horizontal view of the homescreen? I'm really curious why that would be necessary? And I'm not being sarcastic. I really wanna hear ideas. Oh and the shadow and background stuff sounds like background apps to me.

The shadow can be interpreted as the background of an object. Seeing as the background of this object, the 4, is in the foreground, I think its safe to say that background applications and multi-tasking will be implemented into the OS. This is a stretch, but from an Advertising background, the perfect subtlety that Apple strives for.

I think the most important part of the ad is the word "future". That, to me alludes to something big. Also, and the fact that the shadow is huge. I am a little optimistic Apple might actually deliver this time.

I think they're going to go from iPhone 4.0 to just 4. The last 2 had a .0, and this one doesn't

Um, looks to me like they're just casting a light on a 4, meaning they are revealing OS 4, which is exactly what the text says....

I think it may be that flash is coming to the iPhone. Both the flash on the camera and Adobe Flash. Adobe and Apple have been cooperating lately after the blow up. Just saying. The shadow could be the result of a flash going off behind the 4.

i think that the 4 has to do with video chat. the shadowing would be behind u if u were looking into it....

My guess is that multitasking will be limited to four apps running simultaneously. Call it "optimized multitasking" if you will...Steve is not going to let users go hog wild with multitasking and start having a horrible experience...and really, how many apps do we really need open at the same time on a mobile device with limited real estate?
Double-click the home button on the iPhone and a card-like view similar to the open "tabs" in Safari can be swiped thru...again, four apps max.
On the larger iPad, we'll likely see an expose type view with each open app's "thumbnail" view in each quadrant of the screen.
It could be 4+1... five apps total... meaning the active app grays out in the background, like the desktop/current app in Mac OS using Expose..hence the shadow.

What other number could they use as a pun about fore/fourshadowing and fore/fourground/background? Multitasking will be in the foreground.

Yall clueless lol.
The shadow looks like an A but you really know it's a 4. They're anouncing the new Apple A4 Processor that is used in the iPad and soon to be iPhone HD/4.

They're probably changing the name of the OS to "Apple Phone 4 Series."
Not really. I do think that fastlane's comment about a 3D UI is interesting, since the 4 in the photo is in 3D.

I think the majority agree that the shadow represents something going on in the background – multi-tasking! I also believe the focus on the bottom represents a clear base on which to build the fourth generation, meaning new hardware – a bigger, faster, clearer base! The loss of clarity at the top reinforces the concept that this release will also position them for the 4th gen of the future. What 4th gen? Well both! There are two 4’s there – with the base down and the base stemming off the actual 4. Both not clear, but the start of each. Hey, it’s my fantasy, and I can see whatever I want to see!

The shadow is kind of blurred like the 4 is moving kinda quickly. This leads me to believe that maybe 4.0 will be streamlined, slimmed down and really give users a fast response. And multitasking. Of course.

When it comes to 3D UI it's a possibility. Apple already uses PureDepth’s Multi-Layer Displays (MLD™) technology in their 24” LED Cinema Display. I would like to see them use MLD for iPhone but battery life is always a big issue. The battery has between 600-700 charges during it's lifespan. A 3D UI will kill your battery in 6 months unless they came up with some better batteries that can hold more power and be charged at least 2000 times.

I agree with winterboarder, they will anounce the use of the new A4 in the next iPhone. It will support limited multitasking, facilitated by expose.
The 4 with shadow also represents the new isite camera will shine the lights on the iPhone owners by finally bring us mobile video calls via iChat.
I also think that because the 4 is so high that it is off the screen, it also represents the new high definition screen, covered by gorilla glass.
The back case of the phone will follow the design theme of the iMac and iPad with a single piece aluminum body with a black/white plastic apple logo for the wireless radios to transmit through.

I think, the 4 is in the "background" and Apple will introduce a revolutionary way to "background" third party apps. Makes since don't you think, "BACKGROUND" Also I see Apple reading all the great things from post like this and doing what Steve usually does, people asked for: this, this, this, this, this, and etc, and that's what we gave you in this update, it will be available in June and devs can get a beta today.

I see many possibilities.
Verizon checkmark
Multi tasking
You can even pull out certain parts of the shadow and see that LTE is there.
Just my thoughts, cue the Verizon bashing! LOL!

I see a 12-year-old (let's call him Noah) playing with Photoshop text and lighting effects
Noah thinks that the shadow makes the '4' seem very large and awesome.

All I know is apple has to be pretty damn witty. Not only is it a number 4 (for the update obviously) but it's also a show...four shadow...forshadow!? What are they gonna forshadow!? Stupid i know but I found it funny

It's gonna have to be a theme of mysterious & surprise. Because the shadow shows that the OS has "another side" to it. & to probably show that this is the "A " iPhone of 2010.

The 4 is backwards. Or has it's back to us. However you want to say it. So that must mean that Either apple is going backwards in this update and taking away push notifications, battery improvements, copy/paste, exhange support, app store, etc (all the things the previous updates gave us). Or that apple is turning its back to us and ignoring our pleas for multitask of third party apps, better homescreen, and quicker access to turning on/off wifi, Bluetooth, gps, airplane, etc.

I think since the shadow is in front then it is foreshadowing and you all know what that means... yep time travel app or time machine compatibility

I really dont think that the 4 is in the background means multitasking (cuz its backgrounding or something)
I dont think the image means anything special
no hidden clue, no nothing

My first thought is the flash of a camera! I like the foreshadow concept that Freiteez suggested, too.

i'm 50/50 about this, excited about the OS but not about having to wait for it to be jailbroken & unlocked i wouldn't mind but i'm a t-mobile user so it's a Must to wait but glad they're advancing the iPhone OS

If they can somehow get the iPhone OS 4.0 software to build a camera flash into the outside of my iPhone, they are smarter than I thought.

a 4 in the background ... hmmm .. maybe background multitasking?? I hope so it would be awesome, anyway i hope some major improvements on this new OS.

i want to see the missing widgets on the ipad. perhaps as a dashboard.
picture is nice. think os 4 is more a speed update like snow leopard. the picture doesn't show the "4" right from front, so could be like sow leopard. not too much new features. they will show us multitasking, and some speed and battery life improvements.
And perhaps they publish the international prices for the ipad and the ability to pre-order international.

Stop thinking wildly. You know Apple, I know Apple, we know Apple. When had ever Apple tried to leak any information? They even try so hard to not let anyone leak info.

The "4" reminds me of the Bluetooth-Logo, as does the blue background. It could mean that finaly we get better bluetooth functions, such as file-transfer.
I think it could thereby also mean that we get some kind of file management for different kind of data. This is a thing we desperately need to stop using files sandboxed in every application...

Because the shadow is supposedly on the wrong side, perhaps we're gonna see a different side to OS that we haven't seen before.
Just a guess.

The first thing I thought upon seeing the image was Facebook. Dunno why, perhaps it's the blue, but could see it pulling out to reveal he four is actually the F...over active imaginations are great aren't they?!

Would love multitasking of course, but how about being able to theme your phone without having to jailbreak it.

There is in my opinion nothing APPLE can introduce that is not already avilable to the Jailbreak folks out there.... What I WISH they would introduce is a program similar to SBSettings...

It just looks like cool copy and print work for advertising. And that's pretty much it. If I can do two things: bluetooth file transfer and add a wallpaper to my homescreen, then I'd be a happy man. I'm with others though, I think this is a "save the date" event and we should look for roll out in June.

its expose!!
the 4 is in the corner and casting a shadow.. just like when you drag your mouse into the corner, the shadow of expose comes out

Multi tasking with a limit of 4, 4G, 4.0, 4th iPhone, 4 times faster, and 4 times cheaper, ha, ha

Great. Now that's all I can see, too!
I see: A4 processor, what we have now is just a shadow of the "A plus" coming OS, and it will loom so large over the competition that they will be wetting themselves.
I just joined the iPhone community with a 32GB 3GS in the last month (after having a Touch), and given that iPhone G4 will likely be a big hardware upgrade, I didn't want to take a chance with getting something that didn't work exceptionally well. Hopefully the OS4.0 will work well with the 3GS... but I'm keeping it at 3.1.2 in case I decide to jailbreak it. :)
I am SERIOUSLY excited about this sneak peak, can't wait until Thursday. I'm also sick and tired of all the iPad this, iPad that - I have no need for that machine. I'm also wondering when new MacBook (Pro)s will be upgraded - my white iMac is suffering from overload and needs to be replaced.

For all the talk About the number four in the picture and the way it looks, no one seems to mentioning anything about the wording on the invitation. To me "sneak peak" is the most important thing here. When they were previewing Photos at the iPad keynote, I seem to remember them using the word peek to describe pinching and looking in at all your photos. My guess is that when they introduce multitasking it will work in a similar fashion and have the word 'peek' in it's name.

I see a picture of my mom dancing naked with a knife. Oh wait that's not the right picture never mind.

The white 4, in the far corner, is in focus, but the shadow, in the center, is not. I believe the 4.0 software will allow you to choose your focus point within the frame as you take photos. Instead of always focusing on whatever is in the center.
I wouldn't be surprised if face detection were added to the camera software as well. It seems to work great in iPhoto, so Apple has already gotten it working. The iPhone 4.0 camera could automatically adjust focus, exposure, and flash for the nearest face, even if it's off center. And focus could follow moving faces when shooting video.

Also, I just realized that the actual four in the picture is BACKWARDS. In order for the shadow to appear the way it does, the light source would need to be on the other side of the four. If you were to look at the four from the direction of the light source so that the shadow is behind it (which is typically how shadows are pictured) you would be looking at the back of the number four. Another clue about tasks in the BACKground?

I can see a number of interpretations there:
First of all, I see the shadow of the 4 projecting itself on the background. Could be a reference to apps running in the background. In other words, Multitasking.
Second of all, I see only one thing (the 4, + its shadow). So it could also represent "uniqueness", thus, actually being a sign that there will NOT be multitasking.
Thirdly, I can see an A and a + there. Could be a reference to Steve Job's quote on iPhone being an A+ upgrade.
Fourthly, the fact that it's such a clean image, could mean that the UI will also be clean, possibly maintaining its app-grid-based-system.
And well, that's enough views on that subject. :P

@autofocus...you can already do have a different focus point with the 3gs camera by just tapping anywhere on the screen.

Well, theres not much going on here, just a cut off four and it's shadow with words saying a sneak peak at the "future" of the OS. My take on it:

  1. Shadow=Running Apps in Background (or background pics)
  2. Future=Something new that'll make everyone fall backwards
  3. It might be just a vector art that looks cool and doesn't mean anything (although Apple is smarter than that)
  4. It's not even FINISHED, its a sneak peak

I'm guessing their aiming to surprise everyone, every other pic had a meaning, this seems really simple, maybe they perfected the true iPhone OS because there's no hint of "planning" or just taking it and turing the whole world upside down with something ground-breaking. Well, IDK, we'll see Thursday.

well to me the thing making the 4 cast the shadow is android,palm, and htc. i'm sure the os is getting multitasking. but it's steve jobs no one knows what he has up his turtle neck sleeves.

I see the invite as saying that OS 4 will leave everything else in it's shadow. Sorry if somebody said that already.

I hope it means 4 me! Meaning personalization with themes, tones, multitasking, better mail and calendar, widgets (weather with real temps, news and SPORTS WITH A LIVE SCORE, and a better freaking home screen that isn't so boring! And maybe, just maybe, there will be a way to hide icons or just folders to put them in. I love my iPhone, but come on. These things should not be what we hope for. If these things to not come with the new 4.0 then I'm convinced that apple has played me like a fool. If all we get is multitasking and some lame new way to do something different(like shake to erase all or shuffle songs) then I will be the first to sell this device. They have the ability to give us what we want and they feed a little to us at a time like we are some freaking children in high chairs and then try to sell us on the next hardware upgrade. I'm sick of having this great device that can't do the things I want it to do. If apple doesn't deliver then I will just cut the strings off this puppet.

@Mitchell Not stupid. Just not repeating the same thing that 100 other people have already posted. It's called sarcasm, look into it.