updated 12:55 pm EST, Tue January 9, 2007
Apple unveils iPhone
Apple today unveiled the iPhone (site not updated), a wide-screen iPod with touch controls that also functions as a mobile phone and an internet communication device. The company chief Steve Jobs revealed the new device during his keynote speech at the Macworld Conference & Expo in San Francisco. "This is a day I've been looking forward to for two and a half years," Jobs said on stage in front of the keynote attendees. "Every once in a while a product comes along to change the industry. Apple has been fortunate to introduce a few of these: the Mac in 1984; the iPod in 2001. Apple will introduce three revolutionary products of this class. Wide-screen iPod with touch controls. The second is a mobile phone. The third is a break-through internet communication device. All of those in a single device. Not separate devices, but a single device called iPhone. Apple reinvents the phone." [updated]
iPhone development began with a revolutionary user interface that leverages hardware as well as software, overcoming the problem of fixed controls that cannot change as applications change. The iPhone utilizes a touch sensitive screen with "multi-touch" technology that does not require a stylus pen to operate, and is far more accurate than other touch displays, according to Jobs. The touch pad allows multi-finger gestures that Jobs says is "at least five years ahead of any other." The iPhone runs Mac OS X with power management, networking, security, applications, Core Animation, and audio/video support. Users can also create desktop-class applications, according to Apple's chief.
The iPhone includes a 3.5-inch screen with 160 pixels per inch, as well as a single "home" button. The phone is thinner than any other phone at 11.6mm, and offers volume controls alongside a two megapixel camera built-in on the back. The phone also features a 3.5mm headphone jack, a sleep/wake button on top, a speaker microphone, and an iPod connector on the bottom. A proximity sensor turns off the screen as well as the touch sensor when the phone passes close to the head, and an ambient light sensor turns down the screen brightness as necessary. An accelerometer determines whether to capture a landscape or portrait orientation when taking photos, and the phone includes coverflow technology similar to that used in the company's iTunes software.
Apple's iPhone has a dashboard-like interface to each module and function, allowing users to scroll using a finger. The home button returns users back to the dashboard, and the coveflow technology supports scrolling through album art with the touch of a finger. Jobs demonstrated the iPhone's video capability by playing "The Office" TV show, and began playing a wide-screen movie using on-screen controls.
The iPhone -- which includes more than 200 patents for inventions used in the device -- offers visual voicemail that allows random access voicemail for direct access, and functions as a quad-band GSM/Edge phone. iPhone includes WiFi and Bluetooth 2.0 connectivity, providing users with SMS functionality alongside various applications such as a calendar, contacts, and more. An iChat-like interface enables users to send as well as receive SMS messages, and the iPhone supports error correction via a visual keyboard that allows users to type messages. The phone includes built-in photo management that can scroll through photos with the touch of a finger, and a 'pinch' motion zooms in or out while viewing images.
Further iPhone features include rich HTML email capability that works with any POP/IMAP email service, and a fully usable copy of Apple's Safari Web browser with support for Google Maps. The phone includes widgets for weather and stocks, and automatically locates WiFi networks when they are available -- switching to the network to maintain internet connectivity. Additionally, Yahoo is offering all iPhone users free push IMAP email service with inline photos and rich text email support. Apple's iPhone also automatically parses out phone numbers with a simple touch-to-call option.
Finger gestures navigate Web pages in Safari when browsing the Web, and pinching gestures zoom in on a particular area of a page. Double tapping on a page zooms to that area, while a Cingular menubar displays an AirPort-like signal indicator for WiFi strength. Users can also quickly move to portions of a Web page before it is finished downloading.
Steve Jobs introduced Cingular Wireless CEO, saying that features like visual voicemail required help from the carrier. Cingular entered into a multiyear exclusive contract with Apple without ever having seen the phone. Jobs said Apple hopes to grab 1 percent market share (10 million units) in 2008 following the iPhone's introduction into the existing mobile phone market, which consists of nearly 1 billion phones.
iPhone accessories include standard headphones that feature a button to answer calls, as well as a new Bluetooth headset with a single button that automatically goes to sleep. Jobs promises five hours of battery life for talking time or video playback, as well as 16 hours of audio playback time. The iPhone will ship in June for $499 (4GB model) and $599 (8GB model), both with a 2 year contract.