New iPhone: S for "Speed"

Tuesday Jun 9th 2009 by Andy Patrizio
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The new iPhone also sports video capability, among other upgrades.

SAN FRANCISCO – There was no Steve Jobs, but Apple gave the audience at its Worldwide Developer Conference (WWDC) plenty to cheer about with new hardware, news on Mac OS X and, as expected, a new iPhone.

The iPhone 3G has been succeeded by the iPhone 3 GS, with "S" standing for "speed." Phil Schiller, Apple's (NASDAQ: AAPL) vice president of worldwide marketing, touted its improved performance across the board.

"It's the same design as on the outside but new inside," he told the packed crowd in the Moscone Center. "iPhone changed how people think of their phones. It's changed what we can do with a phone, what we can expect while traveling around. It's the first phone both business and consumers can love."

Schiller did not discuss in detail what's changed under the hood. Various Apple blogs had speculated a faster ARM processor was coming, along with the memory capacity increase. This was made official, as the 16GB version of the phone will now sell for $199 with a two-year contract with AT&T. The previous generation iPhone 3G sold for $199 in an 8GB configuration or $299 in a 16GB configuration.

Also, as rumored, Apple announced a new high-capacity phone, the 32GB iPhone 3 GS, which will go for $299. Both iPhone 3 GS models will be in stores in the US, Canada and Western Europe on June 17.

The older iPhone 3G will be cut to $99, with a two-year contract, effective immediately. There was no mention of the 16GB iPhone 3G being cut.

Battery life has been improved somewhat, with up to 12 hours of 2G talk time instead of 10, and 10 hours of video, up from eight. 3G talk time, however, remains five hours.

A raft of new features

Scott Forstall, senior vice president of iPhone software at Apple, detailed new features in iPhone OS 3.0, which is also due for release on June 17. Most of what he discussed had been revealed a few months back when Apple released the beta of the 3.0 software development kit (SDK), including features like copy/cut/paste, the landscape keyboard, and MMS support.

He also discussed features like the ability to search the entire phone, through your calendar, music, notes, and e-mail. iTunes will support rental and purchase of movies, TV shows, music videos and audio books. Through the USB connection, you can watch that content on your PC or Macintosh.

The Safari browser is getting an upgrade not just on computers but the iPhone as well, with three times the JavaScript performance, autofill and HTML 5 support.

A new service for MobileMe users is Find My iPhone. If you lose your phone, it will send a message that pings loudy, even if the phone is in silent mode, to inform anyone who hears it that the phone is lost. If that doesn't work, you can also send a remote wipe command and the phone will be wiped clean.

Next page: 'Find My iPhone'

That will be assisted with new hardware encryption, a feature Schiller said business users wanted. In addition to encryption, iPhone users will also be able to safely erase the whole phone remotely and back it up the data for later recovery in iTunes.

Another rumor borne out was the new camera. iPhone's two megapixel camera has been something of a weakness. It only shoots in one resolution, has no zoom or auto focus. Apple addressed that with a three megapixel auto focus camera that lets you tap the screen to focus on a specific spot.

It also has the ability to capture video, up to 30 frames per second VGA video with audio, and you can edit right on screen, trimming video from the front and back to crop it down to a short clip. With another tap it can be uploaded to e-mail, MMS (define), MobileMe or YouTube.

iPhone is getting voice control to do things like call people by name from your contact list, dial by number, play music by command, and using the Genius feature of iTunes, you can tell it to play more music similar to what you're already listening.

All told, there will be 1,000 new APIs, including the ability to do financial purchases from inside an app, peer-to-peer connectivity between two iPhones for head-to-head gaming, and push notification.

Several demos followed, some going well, some not so well. ScrollMotion showed off an ebook reader and GPS firm TomTom showed off a nifty GPS service, complete with turn-by-turn directions and a car mount that enhances the signal strength.

Not faring so well was a scientific app that was supposed to detect air pressure in a balloon and a guitar tuning app, both of which crashed and burned. Forstall joked that a demo's chances of success is often inverse to the number of people watching. "There's a lot of interest here," he said to the packed hall of developers.

(Trivia alert: The last time Apple offered a "GS" upgrade, was twenty years ago when it unveiled the successor to the Apple IIe, the Apple IIGS).

Article courtesy of InternetNews.com.

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