Story posted June 09, 2010
When a prototype of the new iPhone was leaked to the world by Gizmodo a couple of months ago many thought that the cat was out of the bag, that Apple had lost the element of surprise and would have nothing ground-breaking to announce at this year's World Wide Developer's Conference (WWDC). I think after standing in line this morning with 5,000 people and sitting in the room when Steve Jobs took the stage to present this year's keynote address, those people are now shaking their heads in disbelief. Apple still had more tricks up their sleeves and I will go through the announcements one by one to summarize the event.
After the prerequisite marketing segments about how well the iPhone and iPod are doing against rivals globally and how well the App Store is doing, Steve Jobs got to the meat of the Keynote. He introduced iPhone 4. Nearly everyone has already seen the phone and Steve made a joke at one point saying "Stop me if you've seen this before" but outside of the look and components of the device, everything else was fairly new and those items that were rumored to be coming were confirmed and then expanded beyond imagination.
iPhone 4 now features a glass back and front face with a stainless steel band around the outside. Some wondered what on earth the gaps in the steel were for when the leaked device was dissected in the media and the truth is that they exist because they are part of the structure and also differentiate the antennae on the device. The stainless steel bands are actually the antennas for wireless and 3G. The iPhone is only 9.3 mm thick and is actually 24% thinner than the iPhone 3G. It contains a front-facing camera, an LED flash, 5 MP camera and a brand new screen.
The iPhone 4 contains a screen that Apple is calling the Retina Display. This display contains 4 times the pixels that the iPhone 3GS contains and are packed in at 326 pixels per inch. The reason they are calling it the Retina display is that at a set distance of about 12" away from the eye, the human retina can't detect any more than 300 pixels per inch. Thus this display shows a few more pixels than the human retina can even see. What this means is that fonts will look as smooth as if they were from a well-printed book and images look as sharp as if you were in the picture itself.
The iPhone 4 also contains the Apple A4 processor, which is the same as in the iPad. This provides more speed, more power and even more energy savings. The iPhone can get up to 300 hours of standby time and 7 hours of 3G talk time, 6 hours of 3G web surfing and 10 hours of wifi web surfing and 10 hours of video playback and 40 hours of audio playback. Along with the A4 processor, due to a decrease in size and moving the structure of the phone to the outside (those stainless steel outer bands) the iPhone contains a larger Lithium-ion battery, which also helps with the times. Of course there are other hardware features that have been embedded into the A4 including an 802.11n wireless adapter, the processor for dual mics (a new one was added to allow for noise cancellation), Bluetooth, a new camera system and a gyroscope.
A gyroscope you say? Yes, the iPhone 4 now includes a gyroscope in addition to its accelerometer and compass. What this means is that not only will the phone know where you are and if the phone is tilting left and right, back and forward but it will now detect when you are spinning or rotating the phone and can act on those rotations. What this means is that the iPhone 4 can now detect pitch, yaw, roll as well as rotation about gravity with 6-axis motion sensing which adds a world of opportunity for game developers and beyond.
A few moments ago I alluded to a new camera system and sure enough, the iPhone 4 introduces not only a new camera but also an entirely new camera system. The new camera is indeed a 5 MP camera with tap to focus but Apple has added a 5X digital zoom, an LED flash which can be used as an LED light when taking video and, speaking of video, the iPhone 4 takes video in full 720p high definition. Not only has the pixels increased but, using a new technology, the camera has kept the same number of pixels on the camera which catch more photons rather than increasing and shrinking the pixel count and size respectively. Along with the new camera system, Apple is releasing iMovie for iPhone which allows one to take 720p video, edit it, drop in some pictures, transitions, titles and more and then upload to YouTube, Mobile Me, MMS or to sync with iTunes. This allows you to create a complete movie all on the phone itself.
Of course along with the new iPhone comes a new version of the iPhone OS. As of today the iPhone OS has been rebranded as the iOS since it runs on more than just iPhones (such as the iPod Touch and the iPad). The iOS was introduced in April and some of those same features were showed again today such as folders, multi-tasking, unified inbox in mail and the support to view messages by threads. There are over 100 new features in the iOS and when it gets released on June 21 you can expect a more thorough review of it. One nice feature that was introduced which I guess is not really a feature but a nice surprise is that the iOS 4 upgrade will be free for the iPhone 3G, 3GS and for the first time the 2nd generation iPod Touch. Of course not all features will be available on all devices based on the hardware but they can all still install the new OS at no cost.
There was a little discussion about apps but one that was singled out was iBooks. iBooks will be coming to the iPhone with iOS 4 and it too has been updated with a few new features. The iBooks app will now act as a PDF reader for the iPhone and iPad. Opening a PDF document from mail will add it to the iBooks app and all of the PDFs will appear on their own bookshelf, separate from books. The other big feature that was added was the ability to take notes. You will now be able to highlight a section of a book and make notes about that section. The bookmarks screen will then show you all bookmarks and notes that you have made. Finally, all books purchased will only need to be purchased once and can be downloaded to all idevices at no additional cost and all notes, bookmarks and locations within a book will be wirelessly copied between all devices so you will always be at the right location no matter what device you are using.
Finally, Steve Jobs left us with one more thing...and that is what apple is calling FaceTime which is the name that Apple will be using and providing it to the world as an open standard. FaceTime combines many technologies to allow for videoconference calling on the iPhone for the first time. Using the front-facing camera, a wifi connection and a pair of iPhone 4s a phone call can be converted into a videoconference with a tap of the screen. You will then see a similar screen as if you were using iChat AV on a Mac with a picture of you in the lower left and the caller covering the majority of the screen. You can hold the camera in landscape or portrait mode and if you want or need to you can tap a button in the lower-right corner and use the backside camera instead in case you want to show your caller something that you are looking at. Now this does require that both parties be on wifi as well for now until the carriers beef up their cellular networks to handle the traffic while maintaining a good experience for the user.
Now you may be wondering what all of this will cost? Those answers came at the very end of the keynote. The iPhone 4 with 16GB of memory in either white or black will be $199 with a new 2-year AT&T contract and the 32GB version in either white or black is $299. AT&T has agreed to allow all contracts that expire during the last 6 months of 2010 to upgrade early with no penalty as long as they renew their contract. Many users will now not need to wait until this fall to upgrade, they could do it later this month if they desire. The iPhone 4 goes on sale June 24 here in the U.S. and preorders will start on June 15.
This is really just an overview of all of the features of the new iPhone 4 and iOS 4 that were announced at today's WWDC Keynote. There was a lot that I skipped to try to keep this as short as possible. If you want to see the entire keynote, keep an eye on apple.com as they usually post the keynote a few days after the event. And for even more information on the iPhone 4 and iOS 4, please visit http://www.apple.com/iphone and http://www.apple.com/iphone/softwareupdate. As you can see, there was a lot more to announce to the world than just what the new phone looks like and what parts might be hiding inside. Initial conversations here in San Francisco indicate that Apple did indeed surprise its audience.
Review submitted by Jason Pelletier, Systems Engineer and Manager of Public Computing.
We're not just a tech company. Apple is more than that. It's tech and humanity. It's the hardware and the software working together. It's not just a great new camera system, it's the editing too, it's not just a front-facing camera, it's that plus 18 months of work on the software side. It's the complete solution, so all of us don't have to be system integrators.
— Steve Jobs (from WWDC 2010 Keynote)