What Steve Jobs has in store for the iPhone

WWDC 2010: New iPhone 4 is thinnest ever, adds super-high-res display, A4 processor; iPhone OS renamed iOS

Today, at Apple's Worldwide Developers Conference, CEO Steve Jobs revealed the new iPhone 4, which Jobs said was the "biggest leap" in iPhone models since the initial 2007 version. The new design, available in black and white versions, does match the lost-at-a-pub prototype shown at Gizmodo several weeks ago, with a glass front and rear and stainless steel on the sides, with a 24 percent thinner body than the current iPhone. Jobs says it is "the thinnest smartphone on the planet." It uses the same A4 chip as the iPad. A larger battery increases 3G talk time to 7 hours, 3G browsing to 6 hours, and Wi-Fi browsing to 10 hours, he said. On-device storage remains at a maximum 32GB.

Pricing is the same as the current 3G S models: $199 for the 16GB edition and $299 for the 32GB edition, as part of a cellular contract, starting June 24 in the United States, France, Germany, the United Kingdom, and Japan, with 18 other countries to follow in July; 88 countries will have the iPhone 4 by October. The 3G S models will continue to be available, but the 3G has been discontinued.

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Apple has also renamed the iPhone OS to iOS, given its use on the iPad and iPod Touch. Apple has previously announced details on the more business-oriented and multitasking-capable iOS 4.0 upgrade due June 21. A golden master candidate is available today for registered developers. Jobs said the iOS 4.0 upgrade will be available for users on June 21 at no cost for iPhone 3G, iPhone 3GS, iPod Touch 2G, and iPod Touch 3G; iPad availability is planned for fall. The iPhone 3G and iPod Touch 2G won't support multitasking.

Jobs demoed iOS 4.0's multitasking capabilities to the WWDC audience, as well as new business-like email capabilities such as a unified inbox and message threading, similar to what Apple Mail and other desktop email clients offer. As InfoWorld reported previously, iOS 4.0 beefs up enterprise security and management support, and it allows businesses to distribute internal apps without needing to use the App Store. Apple has added Microsoft Bing as a search option in iOS 4.0, though Google remains the default.

Back to the iPhone 4: An added three-axis internal gyroscope should help 3-D visualization and game developers create Wii-like apps, especially when combined with the internal compass and accelerometer. Jobs said this fourth sensor made the iPhone more intelligent about the world around it. (The iPhone also has an ambient light sensor.)

The iPhone 4 adds a front-facing camera, in addition to the back camera and LED flash; both cameras have increased resolution of 5 megapixels at the same 1.75-micrometer sizes, effectively increasing the size of pictures. The camera uses backlit sensors to help take photos in low light. With either camera (or both, to switch views), the iOS 4.0 also allows "FaceTime" video calls over the iPhone 4 via Wi-Fi as if you were making a regular call, as Jobs demonstrated. (Jobs said Apple was working with the cellular carriers to enable 3G video calls in the future.) Apple will make FaceTime an open industry standard, Jobs said, via the standards bodies.

Plus, the camera can capture HD video, and Apple has created an iOS version of its iMovie application so that users can edit their videos on the iPhone.

The new iPhone uses a MicroSIM tray like the iPad. But the side of the iPhone has a new set of slits on the side of the iPhone 4 that makes the entire case an antenna system, integrated into the phone itself. The iPhone 4's screen also increases the number of pixels by 400 percent, dramatically boosting the resolution in what Apple calls "retina display." There are 326 pixels per inch, allowing supersharp text. Jobs claimed that this resolution is at the limit of what a human eye can detect, so all curves and lines appear to be continuous.

Jobs also announced that so far, 35 million iPad apps have been sold to the 2 million iPad owners, for an average of 17 apps per iPad, Jobs noted. He said that as of last week, the App Store passed the 5 billion mark for apps sold, resulting in $1 billion in income for developers. Jobs said Apple has sold 100 million iOS-based devices: iPhones, iPads, and iPod Touches.

He also announced that Apple is updating its iBooks app, adding the ability to add notes to book pages and to view and read PDFs. So far, users have downloaded 5 million books, which the major publishers say already accounts for 22 percent of all their e-book sales, Jobs said. iBooks will also be available on the iPhone and iPod Touch with the iOS 4 upgrade. Books purchased on any iOS device are available to all iOS devices a customer has attached to his or her iTunes account; notes are also synced across devices, Jobs said.

Jobs also underscored Apple's support for HTML5 as an app development environment "100 percent" in addition to the proprietary App Store, which he called a "curated platform" with 225,000 apps so far. Jobs also defended the company's app approval process saying Apple rejects only 5 percent, usually for one of three reasons:

  1. The app doesn't perform as promised.
  2. The app uses private APIs, which Jobs says risks the apps breaking when Apple updates the iOS.
  3. The apps crash.

Jobs has been especially critical of Adobe's mobile Flash Player, claiming its stability and performance are unacceptable, leading Apple to ban it from the iOS, as a prohibited private API. Adobe has promised to deliver Flash Player for competing mobile platforms but has not yet done so; reviewers who have seen a prototype Flash Player for Google Android have noted some performance glitches but have been generally positive.

Although the keynote address gets the bulk of attention due to Jobs' use of it to announce new and enhanced products, the closed-to-the-media conference itself is focused largely on HTML5 development, to help spur the creation of more Web applications and sites that use the draft standard. Today, the Safari, Mozilla Firefox, Opera, and Google Chrome browsers all support at least half of the draft HTML5 specifications, and Microsoft says its forthcoming IE9 will also support many draft HTML5 specs. The iOS's mobile Safari -- used in the iPhone, iPod Touch, and iPad -- also supports many draft HTML5 specs, and several WWDC sessions focus on using HTML5 for these mobile devices.

This article, "What Steve Jobs has in store for the iPhone," was originally published at InfoWorld.com. Follow the latest developments in mobile computing at InfoWorld.com.

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