iPhone 4, Safari 5, and Apple’s WWDC Announcements

iPhone 4 - Face Time

Monday was Apple’s World Wide Developer’s Conference (WWDC) and as predicted, Apple unveiled the next generation iPhone, the iPhone 4, at the show. Steve Jobs stood on-stage and acknowledged the leaks and the missing iPhone saga, and sure enough the device we all got to see on Monday looked an awful lot like the prototype that turned up on Gizmodo a few months ago.

But that’s not all that happened at WWDC, let’s take a brief look:

iPhone 4

Obviously the star of the show was the iPhone 4, newly designed and complete with sharper edges, a more slab-like feel, and specially engineered tempered glass on the front and the back of the device. The new design has individual buttons on the side for volume and other controls, dual microphones in the top and the bottom for noise cancellation, a micro SD tray in the side, a front-facing camera for self portraits and Apple’s new “Face Time” real-time video calling feature (shown above, and largely considered the biggest announcement of the show), an LED flash on the new 5 megapixel camera on the back, and longer battery life.

The new iPhone will sport the Apple A4 chip under the hood, the same processor that powers the iPad, and part of the reason the battery life is improved. Additionally, Apple’s re-engineered the iPhone display to be much sharper and have much smaller individual pixels, which increases the overall resolution and presents a sharper image – they’ve patented the new display technology and call it the Retina Display. Aside from the hardware upgrades, Apple also announced that their eBook reading app, iBooks, along with Netflix streaming video, will make their way to the iPhone this month, and Apple previewed new development tools that make use of the new built-in gyroscope and utilize HTML5 in addition to Cocoa Touch (the iPhone’s native development platform.)

The new iPhone is pretty impressive as-is, and AT&T and Apple have agreed to allow existing iPhone users upgrade to the new iPhone 4 for less than the full retail price, which paves the way for more current iPhone and iPhone 3GS owners to upgrade to the new device as soon as its available, which is currently June 24th (pre-orders will open on June 15th). The 16GB version will run you $199, and the 32GB version will run you $299.

PC Mag got hands on with the iPhone 4 at WWDC and has their first impressions here, along with a video walking through some of its new features.

iPhone OS is now iOS

This is an entertaining tidbit. Much like the word “iPhone” used to be property of Cisco, the phrase “iOS” used to describe the operating system for Cisco’s enterprise routers, switches, and other network devices. Apple was way ahead of itself this time (unlike when they launched the iPhone in 2007) and already arranged to license the phrase from Cisco going forward to describe the OS that now runs on iPhones, iPod Touches, and iPads.

I have to wonder how much Apple is paying Cisco to make that happen – or even whether those discussions started in 2007 back when Apple and Cisco settled the flap over “iPhone.”

Safari 5 and iTunes 9.2

Very quietly, Apple almost glazed over the announcement of the new version of Safari, Safari 5, available now. Safari 5 is fully HTML 5 compliant, a bit faster than Safari 4, and has an interesting new “Safari Reader” view that hides ads and other fluff content away from the primary page content that you’re likely interested in reading without the distraction of banner ads and other flashy content in the margins.

PC Mag has an excellent review of Safari 5 if you’re curious what else is new – and perhaps what isn’t new – about the new browser. A quick Twitter poll showed that not too many people use Safari at all, even on the Mac, so this likely won’t make PC users download it if they don’t already love it, but Mac users will get the update as part of Software Update, regardless of whether they actually use it as their primary browser.

Almost entirely unnoticed was iTunes 9.2 – in fact, I don’t think it was mentioned at all during the keynote, other than the fact that the new iOS4, which will power the iPhone 4 and be available for the iPhone 3G and iPhone 3GS (and possibly the iPad) will be available later this month for download via iTunes 9.2. iTunes is currently at version 9.1.1, so this means there’ll be an iTunes update in our immediate future – although what other features it’ll bring other than being the conveyor of iOS4, we have yet to learn.

That’s all she wrote!

That’s about it – Apple has been very adamant about message control lately, so we didn’t see any additional products or announcements at the WWDC this year: no AppleTV announcements or upgrades, no iPod Touch upgrades (although the iPod usually has its own music-themed event in August or September), no iPad upgrades or announcements, and that fact left a number of Apple faithful a little wanting. Still – the iPhone 4 was the star of the day, and that’s exactly how Steve Jobs wanted it when he walked on stage on Monday.

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