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Tuesday, 08 June 2010 04:36

WWDC 2010 - iOS4, iPhone 4 and more from Steve Jobs


Opening to the tones of 'What a Wonderful World' Steve Jobs unveiled the all new iOS4 and showed off iPhone 4.0, updated iBooks with the ability to show PDFs as well as taking the wraps off the all new iAds service. Somehow, he managed to take a product that had been leaked weeks ago by Gizmodo and turn it into an event.

As is typical of a a Jobs keynote, he began by giving his version of a State of the Union, noting that an iPad is sold every three seconds and that the 'magical device' could even be used to pick up women! In what was an unusual breakdown of stats, Jobs told the assembled audience of developers and media that of the 225,000 or so apps in the App Store, there were about 8500 native iPad apps in the store.

The first announcement of anything new was a small one. Jobs said that with iBooks 'We're making some changes today - notes, you can make notes right here, new bookmarks, and a new page displaying your notes and bookmarks." A nice update although, frankly, it's a feature that ought to have been there on day one. Also, PDF viewing will be coming later this month. In other words, the new feature announcement is really a catch up on what users have been able to do with a Kindle for quite some time.

Once again, Jobs reiterated that Apple supports two development environments - the 'completely open' HTML5 and the App Store. According to Jobs, 95% of applications submitted to App Store are approved within 7 days. Of those that are rejected the app either doesn't do what you said it would or use private APIs that might cause the the app will break if a change is made or simply 'They crash".

Jobs made a point of letting everyone know that the App Store can be a significant revenue stream with the eBay app (which was released for the iPhone and updated for the iPad) delivering $USD600M of sales. The developer of The Elements made more money in his first day of sales than in the previous five years from Google ads on www.periodictable.com. In fact, Jobs noted that Apple has paid out over $1B to developers, who receive 70% of an application's sale price. That means Apple cleared over $420M for their efforts.

Apple claims that they have the number one online store for apps, books and music with over 150 million accounts registered with a credit card.

Being a developer conference, Jobs invited the creators of Netflix and Farmville to show off their wares. For those addicted to Farmville on Facebook, 'Farming' will sync with the Facebook version of the game. It's expected to be available in late June.

Activision's Karthik Bala was next to the stage and did his dog and pony show, to show off Guitar Hero for iPhone complete with classic rock from Queen and The Rolling Stones.

Continuing his 'state of the union' Jobs presented some stats on smartphone sales from Neilsen. Although RIM, with the BlackBerry, still leads the market with 35%, Apple is coming second with 28%. Windows has 19% and Android, the new kid on the block, has 9%.

The moment everyone had been waiting for, the announcement of the newest iPhone, iPhone 4.0 came about 30 minutes into the presentation. As expected, the prototype that was found/stolen/conjured at a California bar was very close to the mark.

The new iPhone looks similar to the 3GS from the front. But, from the side, it sports a new squarer profile and is 24% thinner than its predecessor, at a mere 9mm. A second camera has been added to the front and the rear camera has been boosted to 5MP and given a LED flash. The body is made of stainless steel for added strength. The addition of the second camera will be welcomed by many who have held off on the iPhone because it couldn't be used for video calling.

Smartphones live and die by the quality of their displays. Over the last couple of years, the quality of the previous iPhones has been equaled, and even surpassed, by many other smartphone makers. Apple has upped the ante by developing what they call Retina Display.

The pixel density of the iPhone's 4.0's display is 326 pixels per square inch. The human eye's limit is 300 ppi. In other words, the new display offers a level of clarity and resolution that is beyond the eye's capability. For Jobs, who is passionate about text quality, it means that the subtle curves in many typefaces will no longer look blocky or blurry. Clearly, the improved quality will manifest itself in other parts of the operating system and in applications.

Display resolution has been given a huge boost as well, to 960 by 640, giving it 78% of the pixels the iPad has, and the contrast ratio is now 800:1 - a fourfold improvement on the 3GS. Unlike the transition from iPhone 3G to 3GS where there were only minor improvements, the iPhone 4.0 seems to be a significant leap forward. We suspect that a few smartphone makers will be withholding upcoming models that were just leapfrogged.

Under the covers, the new iPhone is running Apple's A4 processor, the one developed for the iPad, so we'd expect, once we get our hands on a review unit, that there will be a significant performance boost as well.

One of the biggest criticisms of the iPhone thus far has been battery life. A look at the iPhone 4.0's schematics reveals that about a third of its size comes from battery. Jobs boasted that the iPhone 4.0 would deliver 7 hours of 3G talk, 6 hours of 3G browsing, 10 hours of WiFi browsing, 10 hours of video or 40 hours of music. Stand-by was rated at 300 hours.

Storage remains capped at 32GB but Apple has added a 3-axis gyroscope and tied the gyroscope, accelerometer and compass together for movement on six axes. This will, theoretically, give application designers new levels of control. We can see game developers embracing this new feature. Jobs demonstrated the feature playing a 3D version of Jenga.

In showing off the new capability, Jobs hit a technical snag - the local network failed. With Jobs showing off the iPhone 4.0 in parallel with a 3GS, the iPhone 4.0 failed to load some of the sites Jobs planned to show off. He had to bypass the live demo and go straight to some photos. Eventually, he asked attendees to turn off their own WiFi devices as the auditorium's network was under stress.

Finally, Apple has relented and added a 5MP camera that can record HD video at 720P and 30fps. There's also the 'tap to focus' feature from the still camera and video editing with the all new iMovie for iPhone. Jobs invited Randy Ubillos to show this new app off.

iMovie for iPhone has most of the functions you'd expect with the ability to add transitions, titles, photos with Ken Burns effect and easy sharing to MobileMe. Output can be at either 720P, 540P or 360P and geolocation is also added to videos. iMovie for iPhone as a $5USD price tag.

iPhone OS 4, as it was formerly known, is now called iOS4. Given it's at version 4 and is on several 'i' devices, iPad, iPod and iPhone, it seems logical. Of course, the cash strapped nation of Greece might sue Apple for borrowing the name of one of their islands! More seriously, IOS is the name of the operating system Cisco uses on its routers. Perhaps the iPhone name kerfuffle with Cisco has been forgotten. Or maybe Apple wised up and got that sorted out before the announcement.

Multitasking, as previously announced, is now included. Jobs said that they wanted to include it in a way that didn't 'kill the battery'. Jobs quickly demonstrated this by checking mail, opening a web page and listening to some music simultaneously.

Email now has a unified inbox and message threading. We've tested this in the beta versions and they are significant leaps forward. However, it's a little disingenuous of Jobs to make a big deal out of them given that most other mail clients have had these features for some time.

Jobs quickly showed off the new folders function that allows users to group common applications together and reduce the app clutter on the iOS4 desktop. Enterprise support is 'deeper' with the ability to have multiple Exchange accounts, support for Exchange 2010 and SSL VPNs.

In a further sign that hell has frozen over, Jobs also announced that support for Microsoft's Bing search engine has been added to Google and Yahoo.

iBooks makes the leap from iPad to iPhone. That's not a huge surprise given that they run the same iOS4 but its nice that it does the same things as the Kindle app with the ability to have a common library across devices and your place in a book, bookmarks and notes all syncing across devices.

iOS4 went gold master today and is meant to be available to developers. Our developer account didn't have it yet but we'll keep an eye on things.

As announced earlier in the year, iAds will make its debut as a way to 'help our developers earn money' according to Jobs. Apple will be selling and hosting the ads with a number of high profile advertiser already online. Nissan, Citi, Unilever, AT&T, Chanel, GE, Liberty Mutual, State Farm, Geico, Campbells, Sears, JC Penny, Target, Best Buy, Direct TV, TBS, and Disney have all put ink to iAds contracts with Apple.

When an ad within an application is opened it doesn't drop the user out to a website. The user sees the ad, can interact with it according the ad designer's prerogative and stay within their application. iAds will be enabled for all iOS4 devices on 1 July 2010 with Apple already having $60M of ads committed for the rest of 2010. Jobs expects iAds to represent a massive 48% of the mobile advertising market by the end of this year.

One of the customary parts of many Steve Jobs keynote addresses is the 'one more thing'. Jobs made a video call to Jonathan Ive, his Senior Vice President of Industrial Design. The video interface looked clean with the party called taking up most of the screen and the caller seeing themselves in a small window at the bottom of the display. Apple is calling the video calling feature FaceTime

However, this year's 'one more thing' was a bit of a let down. Video calling will only be available over WiFi. In Jobs' words 'We need to work a little bit with the carriers'. Once again, it seems that the world has to wait until AT&T get their act together.

As expected, iPhone prices have dropped with the entry level 8GB model selling for $99USD. As well as the customary black face, iPhone 4.0, based on the images Jobs used in his presentation, also comes in white. Availability is expected on June 24 in the US, France, Germany, United kingdom and Japan. A second group of 18 countries will get theirs in July. We'd expect Australia to be in that bunch of countries. Upgrades to iOS4 will be free to all iDevice users on June 21. this includes iPod touch users who, until now, have had to pay for operating system upgrades.

Clearly, Jobs sees Apple as more than a technology company. 'We're not just a tech company. Apple is more than that. It's tech and humanity. It's the hardware and the software working together. It's not just a great new camera system, it's the editing too, it's not just a front-facing camera, it's that plus 18 months of work on the software side. It's the complete solution, so all of us don't have to be system integrators."

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