Apple has officially taken the wraps off the third incarnation of the iPhone. Dubbed the iPhone 3G S, it will come in 16GB and 32GB flavors for $199 and $299 respectively, with the current 3G model available unchanged for $99. The iPhone 3GS will be available on June 19; iPhone OS 3.0 will arrive two days before that, on June 17.
Those in the US, Canada, France, Italy, UK, and Spain will be able to get their hands on the new iPhone on the 19th. The iPhone 3G S will gradually be introduced worldwide as new countries are added every few weeks. Keep in mind that those prices are with AT&T contracts; "naked" iPhones will run $499, $599, and $699 for the 8GB, 16GB, and 32GB models respectively.
In addition to a number of features we saw at the iPhone OS 3.0 event earlier this year, like MMS, Push Notifications, Spotlight, and expanded language support, Apple SVP of iPhone software Scott Forstall also showed off the new video downloading features of iTunes, confirming previous rumors of this feature.
He also gave an impressive demo of a "Find My Phone" feature. This feature allows a user to log in to MobileMe to locate a lost iPhone using geolocation. Further, said Forstall, "If you lose your phone, you can send it a message from online or your home phone—it'll play a sound whether or not you left it in silent mode." The sound will allow you to find it in your house, or if you left it at a restaurant, for instance, help a waiter find it. And, if the phone is truly lost, you can send the phone a wipe command remotely using MobileMe—keeping your personal data safe from thieves.
Forstall also discussed iPhone OS 3.0's support for MMS messages to send multimedia messages as well as tethering an iPhone to a laptop to use it as a 3G modem. While he noted that 29 of the carrier partners will support MMS messaging at launch, the audience was noticeably upset about AT&T delaying support until later this summer. The audience loudly booed, however, when it was announced that AT&T was not one of the "lots" of carriers supporting tethering.
Like the iPhone OS 3.0 event this spring, a parade of developers were brought on stage to demo apps using iPhone OS 3.0 features. GameLoft showed off racing game Asphalt 5, ScrollMotion showed downloadable textbooks, TomTom demoed—to great applause—a GPS navigation app, ngmoco showed off its sci-fi tower defense game Star Defense and its additional level add-ons, Pasco demoed collecting science data using its sensors and its Spark app, Zipcar showed an app for reserving cars on its car-sharing service with integrated Google maps, and Line6 showed off a control app that can control its line of DSP-based amplifiers.
iPhone OS 3.0 will be available to all previous iPhone and iPod touch users worldwide beginning Wednesday, June 17. Developers attending WWDC are being treated to a 10-day head start on the rest of us and being given a GM version of iPhone OS 3.0 today.
For those that have been waiting on edge for new iPhone hardware, the keynote did not disappoint. Phil Schiller came on stage to announce the iPhone 3G S—with the "S" standing for "speed." It will have the same physical form factor as the current iPhone 3G, so all the rumors of black bezels and rubber backing weren't accurate. But most of the rumors of hardware improvements were.
The improved processor (and possible RAM) will speed up most applications as much as two to three times, and will also introduce support for OpenGL ES 2.0, bringing significant improvement to 3D graphics. It will support HSPA data speeds of 7.2Mbps where available. Additionally, it will support a number of new features like built-in hardware encryption for data security, a digital compass, and Nike+ for logging running workouts. Accessibility has been improved with VoiceOver—which can read aloud text on screen—and high contrast screen settings.
Apple has also added a much-requested feature: voice control. Voice control can be used to dial contacts by simply saying "dial" and then a contact's name. While that feature has been available on a number of other phones for some time, it's still a welcome improvement. The control feature also works with the iPod app to control playback. It can even activate the iPod's Genius feature when a users simply says "play more songs like this."
Perhaps the most universally appreciated update comes in the form of vastly improved camera hardware. The new camera has three megapixels for an improvement in detail and color accuracy, as well as an autofocus lens for much-improved sharpness. The Camera.app software also has a number of improvements, including improved auto exposure and white balance, improved low-light sensitivity, and a "tap to focus" feature, which allows the user to simply tap on an object on the screen to change the camera's focus point. The autofocus can switch into an auto "macro" mode, allowing the camera to focus as close as 10 cm.
Furthermore, the camera supports video recording, as previously rumored. The iPhone 3G S is capable of recording 640x480 resolution at 30 fps with audio. The Camera app will allow basic editing along with recording, and it will store all the videos along with the stills in your library.
In addition to (or perhaps in spite of) the hardware improvements, the iPhone 3G S will also have improved battery life. Schiller quoted nine hours of WiFi use, 10 hours of video playback, 30 hours of audio playback, 12 hours of 2G talk time, and 5 hours of 3G talk time. That's an impressive feat considering nearly everything in the iPhone 3G S operates at a faster speed.
If all these improvements have you pumped to pick up the new iPhone 3G S as soon as possible, you won't have much of a wait, given the June 19 launch. Both of the new versions will come in black and white, and Apple is keeping the iPhone 3G around in an 8GB configuration to offer at $99 with contract—"to reach even more customers," said Schiller.
Source: Ars Technica