iPhone 4 unveiled with video chat — and yes, you’ve seen it before

Posted by: Flirtation Creations  /  Category: Apple Inc, Developer

Calling it the “biggest leap since the original iPhone,” Apple chief exec Steve Jobs proudly unveiled the widely expected iPhone 4, which indeed looks pretty much like the lost iPhone prototype that Gizmodo got its hands on a couple of months ago.
“I don’t know if you’ve ever seen this,” Jobs joked, provoking a roar of laughter from the audience as he showed off the now-familiar redesign of the new iPhone, complete with a front-facing camera (good for video chat via the new “FaceTime” feature), the new rear camera with LED flash (yes!), and a 9.3mm profile that makes the new iPhone “the thinnest smartphone on the planet,” Jobs bragged.
The flat, stainless-steel-rimmed iPhone 4 — and yes, that’s the official name — will be available in black or white, and it’ll go on sale June 24, Jobs said. Expect to pay $299 for the 32GB version (same price as last year’s 32GB iPhone 3GS, provided you sign a two-year AT&T contract), or $199 for the 16GB model. Also: The iPhone 3G is being discontinued, and the old iPhone 3GS will now sell for $99. (Nope, no discussion of an iPhone for Verizon or any other carriers.)
Among the new (and mostly expected) features for iPhone 4: a revamped, higher-resolution (960 by 640) display, now boasting 326 pixels an inch (or 78 percent of the pixels on the iPad) — good for “really, really sharp text” that’s virtually indistinguishable from “text in a fine printed book,” Jobs claimed. The new 3.5-inch screen (same size as before, by the way) even gets its own new name: a “retina display.”
Very catchy, but Jobs ran into a little hiccup during his demo when Web pages on the spiffy new iPhone 4 refused to load. An error pop-up that read “could not activate cellular network” provoked a knowing titter from the audience. Jobs asked audience members to turn off their Wi-Fi and even fished for suggestions, prompting one smart aleck to shout out, “Verizon!” Ouch. (Later during the keynote, Jobs even asked bloggers in the audience to turn off their mobile Wi-Fi hotspots … a request greeted by a chorus of boos.)
After a few minutes, Jobs’ demo was back on track, with the chief exec noting that the iPhone 4 runs on Apple’s new custom-made “system-on-a-chip,” the A4 processor that powers the iPad.
Jobs also promised more battery life thanks to the iPhone 4′s bigger battery and improved power management on the A4 chip — to the tune of seven hours of talk over a 3G network, six hours of 3G Web browsing, 10 hours of video, or 40 hours of music. (That’s Jobs’ claim, of course; the proof is in the pudding, after we run some field tests.)
Also new on the iPhone 4: a three-axis gyroscope, which combined with the existing digital compass and GPS sensor should make for better tracking of the exact direction in which the iPhone is pointing — handy for games or finding your way in a confusing neighborhood with Google Maps.
Meanwhile, the iPhone 4′s camera gets an upgrade to 5 megapixels (up from 3MP on the iPhone 3GS), a 5X digital zoom, and (at last) an LED flash. Another cool new feature: HD video recording, or 720p-quality video at 30 frames per second, to be precise, same as on the new HTC Evo 4G for Sprint (which, with its 8MP camera, still has the upper hand in terms of resolution). Even better, you’ll be able to edit your videos directly on the iPhone, with a little help from the new iMovie for iPhone app (available now for $4.99).
‘FaceTime’ video chat
The big reveal in terms of the iPhone 4′s camera (the “One more thing … ” at the keynote, incidentally), was FaceTime — two-way video chat, a feature that pretty much everyone in the blogosphere had predicted thanks to the front-facing camera on the lost iPhone prototype.
FaceTime gives you a full-screen view of the person you’re chatting with, as well as your own video image in a smaller, inset window. Nifty, but FaceTime will work only over Wi-Fi, “in 2010,” Jobs said, and only from one iPhone 4 handset to another. When will FaceTime work over 3G, you ask? No word on that, beyond the fact that it won’t happen this year.
More iPhone OS details
We already got the biggest news about the latest version of the iPhone OS — support for multitasking — back in April, but Jobs filled in some of the blanks Monday, announcing support for searching via Bing on mobile Safari (in addition to the existing Google and Yahoo! options), as well as talking up the new OS’s enterprise and security features. Oh, and iPhone OS 4.0 now has a new name: iOS 4.0. It’ll be available for download in two weeks, on June 21
Jobs also spent some time on iAds, Apple’s new mobile advertising platform, including a demo of an ad from Nissan that lets you spin around the automaker’s upcoming electric car with the swipe of a finger. The first iAd advertisement should start popping up on the iPhone starting in July, Jobs said, with Apple hoping to rake in a cool $60 million in ad revenue during the second half of 2010.
Netflix, Guitar Hero, iBooks apps
We’ve had Netflix for the iPad for more than two months now, but when will the killer app arrive for the iPhone? The answer: this summer.
Netflix CEO Reed Hastings showed off the new Netflix for iPhone app (which Netflix reps had hinted at shortly after the release of Netflix for iPad) during Steve Jobs’ WWDC keynote Monday, and it looks pretty much like a smaller, iPhone-sized version of the current Netflix for iPad app.
Features include full-length streaming of movies and TV shows directly on the iPhone, as well the ability to pause and pick up videos where you left off, either on the iPhone itself or on your other Netflix-enabled devices, such as PC, a Mac, a game console, or (of course) the iPad.
You’ll also be able to rate and search for videos, as well as manage and add titles to your “instant” queue. Nice, but will Netflix for iPhone work over 3G networks, or only via Wi-Fi? Guess we’ll find out later this summer.
Meanwhile, we’ll also be getting an official Guitar Hero game for the iPhone, complete with classic songs from Queen and the Rolling Stones. Poised to compete with two other popular iPhone-ized rhythm games — Tap Tap Revenge and Rock Band — the new Guitar Hero app boasts a new “strumming mechanic” developed specifically for the iPhone version of the game, according to an Activision exec at the keynote.

The graphics on the game itself (available today in the App Store) look pretty sweet, at least from what we’ve seen during the brief demo, and the price tag — $2.99 — is also hard to beat.

Finally, Jobs showed off an app we’d already seen back in April: iBooks for the iPhone, complete with the same features as on the iPad version of Apple’s e-reader app (including note-taking, highlighting, in-app book purchasing, and the ability to tweak font sizes and background colors).

Last-minute Apple rumor round-up

Posted by: flirtations  /  Category: Apple Inc, Developer

The wait is almost over. Come Monday’s keynote at Apple’s annual Worldwide Developers Conference, odds are we’ll get a look — perhaps not the first, after all those crazy leaks — of the next iPhone, complete (supposedly) with a new, flatter shell, dual cameras, and a higher-resolution display. But what else will Steve Jobs pull out of his bag of tricks?
Fourth-generation iPhone
Barring a jaw-dropping surprise from Apple, we’ve probably already seen the new iPhone, thanks in part to a hapless Apple engineer who lost a prototype (or had it stolen from his backpack, depending on whom you believe) a couple of months ago. Gizmodo paid a $5,000 finder’s fee to publish detailed photos and videos of the handset in a series of blog posts. Additional snapshots from another purported leaked iPhone later surfaced in Vietnam.
The handset they documented would represent the most radical change in the iPhone’s form factor since the original iPhone debuted in 2007. The curved back of the iPhone 3GS would be replaced with a smooth, flat ceramic shell, complete with flat aluminum edges and buttons.
Also new, according to the bloggers who poked and prodded the prototypes: a revamped, higher-resolution display (960 by 640, to be exact, or twice the resolution of the original iPhone), dual cameras (one in back with a flash, the other in front, apparently for video chat), a version of Apple’s new A4 processor (the same one that powers the iPad), and a larger battery. The phone is also thinner than the iPhone 3GS, but slightly heavier than the current 4.8-ounce model, the bloggers said.
That’s what we (think we) know. What we don’t yet know is how much the new iPhone will cost or what storage capacities will be available. The 32GB iPhone 3GS goes for $299 with a new, two-year AT&T contract; the 16GB version sells for $199 with service. Will Apple stick to $299 as the upper end of its price range, and will it double the capacity of the priciest iPhone (to 64GB, in this case) as it has in years past? Will the current $99 8GB iPhone 3G be phased out? We’ll have to wait and see.
Other question marks: the exact resolution of the new camera(s); whether and how AT&T will support video chat, assuming the front-facing camera is the real McCoy; whether the iPhone is coming to other carriers, namely Verizon (maybe eventually, but probably not Monday); the precise day when the next iPhone goes on sale; and what the new iPhone will end up being called. (The iPhone HD? 4G? Something else?)
iPhone OS 4.0
The most dramatic change coming to the iPhone has, in fact, already been announced: multitasking for third-party apps, which will arrive as a feature in the latest version of the iPhone operating system. Also coming in iPhone OS 4.0: a universal e-mail inbox, home-screen folders, a social-gaming network, and support for Apple’s new iAd mobile advertising platform. Of course, we already got most of those details during an Apple presentation in April; hopefully, we’ll get an exact release date at Monday’s keynote.
iTunes in the cloud?
Here’s where we start wandering deeper into rumorville, with speculation that Apple might launch an “in the cloud” version of iTunes because of its acquisition of Lala earlier this year. Sounds like a good idea — and an inevitable one — but All Things Digital’s Peter Kafka thinks such an “iTunes.com” service is still a long way off, pending “negotiations with the [music] labels.”
Revamped $99 Apple TV?
One of the hotter rumors last week had it that Apple was primed and ready to get serious with its Apple TV “hobby,” staring with a new, compact Apple TV device with a minimal amount of flash storage and powered by the iPhone OS — and best of all, it would cost just $99. It’s a nifty idea, especially if it meant streaming movies and TV shows from iTunes rather than having to store them on your Mac’s hard drive. It would also be a logical move in response to the upcoming Google TV. But Jobs poured cold water on the rumor this past Tuesday, telling conference-goers at D8 that “nobody’s willing to buy a set-top box” because they’re used to getting cable/satellite set-top boxes for free. A new, cheaper Apple TV still might happen, but the conventional wisdom is that it won’t arrive Monday.
Free MobileMe?
MobileMe — a service that syncs contacts, calendar events and an in-the-cloud “iDisk” among Macs, iPhones, iPod Touches and iPads — launched back in 2008 and landed with a thud after early adopters found themselves locked out of their Apple mail, unable to log into the MobileMe Web interface, and stuck with calendars and contact books that were hopelessly out of sync — oh, and the $99-a-year subscription fee didn’t help.
Steve Jobs ended up apologizing for the snafus, and Apple eventually managed to iron out the kinks (indeed, as a MobileMe subscriber myself, I can attest that the service is running more or less smoothly now), but MobileMe’s image never really recovered from its early black eye. Nixing the $99 annual fee would be a great incentive for users to give MobileMe a second chance, however, and rumor is that such a move could be announced Monday.
One more thing …
Steve Jobs promised last month that despite all the leaks, we “won’t be disappointed” by Monday’s WWDC announcements. Is another dramatic “one more thing” on the agenda? Maybe the long-awaited (if long-shot) Verizon iPhone, that new Apple TV I just mentioned, an iPod Touch with a camera, or something else out of left field?

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