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iPhone 4 in Brief
Tuesday, 2010 June 8 - 12:16 am
Quick rundown on Apple's iPhone announcements today.

First: the new drool-worth iPhone 4 hardware:

9.3 millimeters. Very thin, and very let's-make-every-existing-iPhone-case-obsolete.

Stainless steel and glass exterior. The steel is part of the antenna system; it's clever, and may improve wireless reception. The glass is stronger and more scratch-resistant than ever. It might even be Amy-proof.

Apple A4 processor. Should be really, really fast.

Gyroscope. This is to improve the tilt and rotation sensors, for more sensitive gaming; kind of like the Wii Motion Plus controller. Look for even more golf and bowling games soon.

960x480 "Retina" display: at 326 pixels per inch, Apple says the resolution is higher than the human eye can distinguish. Looks pretty amazing. Also, bonus for developers: an iPhone app made for the high-res display will look quite a bit better on an iPad.

Front-facing camera with video chat. You can video chat with any other iPhone 4 owner, with no other account setup required. Apple is publishing the specification, so expect to see a Mac client soon. A PC client should also come soon, and... I'm going to make a prediction that the next AppleTV will include video calling capability.

5 megapixel camera with LED flash. Steve tried to explain in layman's terms that the improvement wasn't in the number of pixels, it was in the "size of the pixels". What he meant was that the iPhone 4 sports a larger sensor for better low-light sensitivity. There should be a noticeable improvement in photo quality.

HD video recording. Sorry, Flip Video; your days may be numbered.

Second microphone. It's on the top of the phone. Why? The idea is that the second microphone picks up ambient noise and subtracts it from the main microphone, thus allowing your voice to be heard clearly even in loud environments. Smart. But of course, what happens when you're trying to have your friends illegally listen to the band at the concert you're attending?

Still AT&T-only. Sorry, Verizon people (Anne).

And as for the iOS 4 (née iPhone OS 4) software update, which will also be available for free for iPhone 3G and 3GS, and iPod Touch 2nd-generation or later:

Multitasking. Carefully designed to preserve battery life, this feature will allow certain applications to run certain kinds of tasks in the background (like audio playback). For other applications, applications actually get suspended if sent to the background, but most people won't notice the difference.

Wallpaper and folders for the home screen. You can customize the background of the home screen; and you can stack icons on top of each other to organize them. Slightly better than having to drag icons between pages.

Video features. Tap-to-focus during video recording, and built-in video editing via an iPhone iMovie app. Nice.

Digital zoom for still pictures. Other apps have provided this capability before. It might be more useful on the iPhone 4 hardware, with its higher resolution camera.

Wireless keyboard support. I'm intrigued by this feature; perhaps someone will make a tiny physical keyboard for the iPhone integrated into a case?

No Cisco lawsuit. Apple actually licensed the iOS term from Cisco (whose router software is called IOS), to avoid another trademark violation fiasco.

Other: Create iTunes playlists on the phone (finally!); improvements to the Mail app; iBooks on the iPhone; NetFlix on the iPhone; spell-checking.

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Posted by Ken in: techwatch


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