Apple will release the iPhone 3.0 operating system on 17 JUne, according to Scott Forstall, senior vice president at the company, in a keynote speech at Apple's worldwide developers' conference (WWDC).
He said that the iPhone 3.0 would be a free release for all iPhone customers. iPod touch customers would be able to download the new release for $10, and it will work on first- and second-generation iPod touch models. And iPhone software developers will be able to download the new release immediately.
Forstall used most of his time to talk about and show off some of the 100 new features in iPhone OS 3.0, many of which were first discussed at a press event in Cupertino last March.
Many of the new features in iPhone 3.0 have been talked about before - Cut, Copy, and Paste, for example. Landscape mode in all key applications, including Mail, Notes and Messages. Spotlight support across the entire device, and ubiquitous searching. Peer-to-peer Bluetooth-based multiplayer gaming, push notification, in-app store support and other capabilities factored into demonstrations showing off iPhone 3.0's new features, as well.
Forstall also delved deeper into some capabilities in the new operating system. MMS is a feature that many users have been clamouring for: iPhone 3.0 will have that capability but not for all users - it won't be available in the US for example - but O2 will be offering it to UK users as from the release date.
Another new feature will be tethering: the ability for a Mac or PC to share the iPhone's Internet connection. This feature is especially handy for mobile travellers who don't want to be tied to the limited range of a Wi-Fi hotspot, and who haven't purchased a 3G data card for their laptop. Especially given the absence of ExpressCard expansion slots on Apple's refreshed 15-inch MacBook Pro line, this will be a bone of contention for some users. iPhone 3.0's tethering works over USB or Bluetooth, and works on Mac OS X and Windows and will be supported by a number of carriers including the UK's O2 - although users will require a tethering bolt-on, 3GB for £14.68 per month, 10GB for £29.36. Once again, AT&T in the US will not support this feature.
"Find My Phone" is a new feature in iPhone 3.0 that helps you locate your iPhone if you've misplaced it. It's specifically for MobileMe customers - you can log in to MobileMe and it will show you where you left your phone. You can send a message to the phone, and will play an alert, even if you left the phone in silent mode. What's more, remote wipe isn't a feature just for system administrators anymore - "Find My Phone" will you erase all your data, if your iPhone falls into the wrong hands.
The new iPhone OS supports HTTP-based streaming audio and video that will pick the right bit-rate depending on your phone's data connection quality. Autofill has been added for the Mobile Safari software, to save you from having to fill out forms manually.
Another hotly-anticipated capability for the iPhone is turn-by-turn GPS-based directions. To that end, TomTom demonstrated an iPhone 3.0 application that delivers real TomTom navigation on the iPhone. What's more, the software also works with a cradle device that suction-cups to your vehicle's window. It's more than just a holder - it securely docks the iPhone, and can enhance the iPhone's GPS capabilities, and give you hands-free calling capabilities, power and a loudspeaker. TomTom plans to release both this summer, with a range of maps.
The new iPhone, dubbed the iPhone 3GS will launch applications faster than previous models. It will be launched in the UK on 19 June, two days after the launch of the software.
The new phone will have some new features, while looking broadly similar. The latest model offers a brand-new camera that lets you control the focus either by tapping on the screen or using the autofocus feature. In addition, the iPhone's new camera captures video in addition to still photos-a heavily requested feature among iPhone owners.
In addition, the iPhone 3GS includes a voice-control feature to allow users to speak commands for applications on the phone. Accessibility improvements include VoiceOver support for reading to users and the ability to zoom in on the phone's display for larger icons
O2 has announced UK pricing: for users of the £44 18-month tariff, the 8GB phone will be free, although the 16GB version will cost £87 and the 32GB version will cost 175. Users of cheaper tariffs will have to pay a lot more. Those signed up for the £35 tariff will get an 8GB phone for £97 while those paying £29 will have to fork out £274 for the 32GB version. Users on the 24-month contract will be offered the 8GB version for free.