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Apple Announces iPhone 4; HD Video & Video Calling

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Today at Apple’s annual WWDC event, the company announced the next generation iPhone, iPhone 4.

In 2007, Apple launched the original iPhone, which was followed by the iPhone 3G in 2008 (the first Canadian iPhone!) and then a year later the iPhone 3GS, which mainly brought speed enhancements and a video camera.

Today, Apple announced iPhone 4, that among feature enhancements, also received a video calling feature called “FaceTime”.

Hardware

The new iPhone 4 is 24% thinner than the iPhone 3GS, making it one of the thinnest smartphones on the planet. When the original rumors broke showcasing the next iPhone, one of the biggest mysteries was the inclusion of the seams/lines around the device.

The keynote this morning explained that those seams break up into two separate bezel casings that give the iPhone its wireless signals (antennas). The left side bezel provides the GPS, WiFi, and Bluetooth and the right side bezel provide the wireless carrier signal.

The new iPhone 4 has also seen a radical hardware redesign with stainless steel making up the body and glass panels on the front (3.5-inch IPS display) and back. The new device also features what Apple calls “Retina Display”, which is essentially increasing the pixels by four times the amount found in the iPhone 3GS. The higher pixel count, 326 pixels per inch, enables extremely sharp images and text.

A4 Chip & Battery

iPhone 4, like the iPad, is also powered by Apple’s own custom made A4 chip. Internally, the iPhone 4 is packed edge to edge, with the largest space making up the battery. The larger battery has also dramatically improved the battery life:

  • 3G Talk: 7 hours
  • 3G Browsing: 6 hours
  • WiFi Browsing: 10 hours
  • Video: 10 hours
  • Music: 40 hours
  • Standby: 300 hours

iPhone 4 also features 802.11n WiFi, which will dramatically increase the speed of WiFi over the iPhone 3G and iPhone 3GS.

On the outside of the iPhone 4, the Micro SIM tray is on the left side of the device, dock/speaker/mic/sleep/wake/headphones all stayed the same, and the wireless carrier speed also stayed the same at 7.2Mbps. There is however a secondary microphone next to the headphone jack for sound suppression.

Gyroscope

The other new piece of hardware debuting in iPhone 4 is a Gyroscope.

This hardware is adding a 3-axis gyro which is being tied to the accelerometer, compass, and gyro together for six axis control. The feature is ideal for gaming, but is sure to have many apps take full advantage of the hardware.

Camera & LED Flash

The iPhone 4 also features a new 5 mega-pixel with a LED flash. The camera further includes a 5x digital zoom and tap to focus, the latter of which was present in the iPhone 3GS.

The camera also features video, like the iPhone 3GS, however the iPhone 4 video camera will be able to record HD video. Adding to this feature, the device will support a new app launching called iMovie for iPhone.

For users who have used iMovie on the Mac platform, you will be familair with the app. Otherwise, the app is a video editor and creator right on the iPhone 4. The new app will be available in the App Store for $4.99.

iOS 4

With the debut of iPhone OS 4.0, Apple introduced over 1,500 new API’s and has revealed 100 new features, many of which have been long time wishes of many users such as Multitasking. Among multitasking, other features include:

  • In-app SMS
  • Automated testing
  • Full map overlays
  • Full access to still and video camera data
  • Carrier information
  • Half-curl page transition
  • Quick Look
  • Package-based documents
  • Call event notifications
  • iPod remote control accessories
  • Draggable map annotations
  • 5x digital zoom
  • Tap to focus on video
  • Gift apps
  • Geotagging
  • Places in the photo app
  • Home Screen wallpaper
  • Bluetooth keyboards
  • Spell checker

Multitasking (iPhone 4, iPhone 3GS, iPod Touch Third Gen)

One of the key highlights of the iOS 4.0 is Multitasking support. As an example, users can now open Safari, go into Mail, come back to Safari, then go into Tap Tap Revenge and still be kept where they were before.

With each newly opened app, every one of the apps such as Mail, the game, and Safari retained the state that they were in instead of launching from the start (as apps would typically do). From the Home Screen, users can also access the Multitasking Tray.

Multitasking was made possible from the combination of seven features in iOS 4.0:

  • Background Audio: Ability to play audio while using any app (like playing Pandora)
  • Voice over IP: Skype calling while using other apps
  • Background Location: The iPhone constantly updates your location
  • Push Notifications: Alerts pushed to the users home screen immediately
  • Local Notifications: Like push notifications but does not access Apple’s servers. The notification is local on the device.
  • Task Completion: Processes compete downloading even if they are exited
  • Fast app switching: Exited apps save their current state and restart where the user left off

Folders

Folders are also debuting in iOS 4.0. This feature operates exactly as you would expect folders to work on a computer. Users can drag existing home screen apps into a folder to create a single folder with up to nine apps.

To create a folder, users simply drag one app over top of another and a new folder is created with the two apps. The folder is also automatically named based on the category that these apps came from. For example, if users drag in two games, the folder will be named “Games”.

Mail

iOS 4.0 also introduced support for multiple Exchange accounts. Previously, the iPhone could only support one Exchange account at a time.

Other mail enhancements include a Unified Inbox, similar to what is seen on Mac Mail. Users can now have multiple email accounts filling into one unified inbox. The benefit of this is not having to jump between inboxes to view mail.

Release Dates

iOS 4.0 will be available for free for the following devices:

  • iPhone 3GS: June 21, 2010; All features available
  • iPhone 3G: June 21, 2010; Some features unavailable, like Multitasking
  • iPod Touch Third Generation: June 21, 2010; All features available
  • iPod Touch Second Generation: June 21, 2010; Some features unavailable, like Multitasking

iBooks

This morning’s keynote also unveiled the availability of iBooks for iPhone 4. The iBooks app, along with the iBookstore, is where users can download free and paid books and use iBooks to store and read the content. Just like with the iPad, iBooks for iPhone deliver iBook enhancements that allow users to post Notes in their books and also allow the syncing of PDF documents.

At this time, the only way to mark anything in the iBooks app is by using the Bookmark feature. In terms of PDF documents, users must convert their PDF’s to .EPUB in order to view them in iBooks.

Any downloaded books can also be moved across devices, similar to how apps work. In other words, users can purchase and download a book wirelessly and then download the same book to all their devices at no extra charge.

Users can buy a book on their iPad, download it to their iPhone and iBooks will automatically and wirelessly sync the current place in the books, bookmarks, and notes.

Video Calling

As rumored, iPhone 4 introduces a video calling feature called “FaceTime”. At this time, the feature is WiFi only, no setup required, and only works between iPhone 4 devices using the front or rear cameras.

Pricing

The pricing for the iPhone 4 is as follows:

  • 16GB Black or White: $199 (on contract), $699 (no contract)
  • 32GB Black or White: $299 (on contract), $799 (no contract)

The iPhone 3GS has also seen a price and capacity drop. The iPhone 3GS is now available for:

  • 8GB Black or White: $99 (on contract), $599 (no contract)

Availability

Here comes the epic fail.

The iPhone 4 goes on sale June 24, 2010 with pre-orders starting on June 15, 2010 in the following countries:

  • United States
  • France
  • Germany
  • Japan
  • United Kingdom

Seems to be a country missing, eh? That’s because Canada got a the royal shaft and won’t be seeing the iPhone 4 until “July”. In July, the following countries will receive the iPhone 4:

  • Australia
  • Austria
  • Belgium
  • CANADA <— (*@$#)
  • Denmark
  • Finland
  • Hong Kong
  • Ireland
  • Italy
  • Luxembourg
  • Netherlands
  • Norway
  • New Zealand
  • Singapore
  • South Korea
  • Spain
  • Sweden
  • Switzerland

The entire keynote was magical right up until the release date information. Comments are open for frustration.

[Images credit: Gizmodo, Engadget]

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