True to expectation, Apple launched its World Wide Developers Conference (WWDC) in San Francisco Monday with bang, or at least, plenty of news. Two days after Palm rolled out the Pre, a solid Smartphone in its own right, Apple rolled out the latest incarnation of its own category killer, the iPhone 3G S.
Like the second incarnation that came before (iPhone 3G), the news of the phone was anticipated, and largely as forecast:
Behind a lead-in of teasing sales numbers touting 40m iPhone and iPod Touch Units sold, and the 50k applications available in the App Store (compared to less than 5,000 at the closest competitor: Android), the Keynote Speech showcased the phone and the official installment of the 3.0 software package for the platform.
Leading the improvement list, iPhone 3.0 leaps past the prior generation with a faster radio (7.2Mbsp), more processing power, battery life generally better than the prior generation and a camera that will now snap off 3 MP images. All nice, though relatively slight, upgrades.
More substantially, on the new model, video features prominently. The new 3G S iPhone is capable of capturing 30 frames per second in VGA mode when a user turns it on. A tap of the screen can select a focus area (still or video) and onboard editing tools make it easy to quickly adjust the video footage. For developers, an available API will also allow video capture integration into applications.
Beyond video, the upgraded operating system adds much requested “copy and paste” functionality, the prospect of tethering (using the phone as a modem for your computer) though use likely depend on wireless carrier support, and a more sophisticated, cross-program search tool that Apple is calling “Spotlight.” Spotlight can crawl through everything from contact lists to inline email text in search of your answer.
The phone’s virtual keyboard now will be available in a landscape mode as well.
Turning a new page, similar to the most recently introduced iPod, the Shuffle, the phone will feature a bevy of voice activated control options . In music mode, voice commands can be used to change a song, raise the volume, or even play more songs like the one currently playing. Shaking the phone will also work as user input for some functions.
In phone mode, the phone will answer calls, dial, and recognize the names of contacts all based on voice input. A related text to speech service called VoiceOver will speak what appears on the iPhone 3G S Display.
Similar to the prior generation, the phone will be available in a couple memory configurations. At the high end, for the storage hungry, the maximum storage capacity will jump from 16GB to 32GB. That 32 GB model will sell for $299 (US) at Apple and AT&T’s stores, and at Best Buy and Wal-Mart. A smaller capacity, 16 GB unit will sell for $199.
Neither size of the 3G S will replace the iPhone 3G. The second incarnation of the phone will remain alive and well with a new more accessible price tag of $99 (8GB), effective immediately.
iPhone OS 3.0 software will be available on June 17 as a free software update via iTunes for all iPhone owners regardless of model. iPod touch owners will be able to purchase the O.S. software update for $9.95 (US).
The new iPhone 3G S will be available on Friday, June 19th iin the U.S. It will be available in more than 80 countries in the coming weeks
How much these new releases will accelerate iPhone demand remains to be seen but it is a relatively safe bet the combination of new features and already massive Application support (App Store), will keep the iPhone lineup’s "Desirability Quotient" well ahead of most peers in the increasingly crowded Smartphone market.
In other Apple news … while the phone was the headliner, Apple also used the WWDC as a forum to reveal other news including a refresh for its Macbook lineup that includes changes to the 13 inch, 15 inch and 17 inch models. Details on the Macbook upgrades can be found in Apple’s press release here.
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