Jobs Lifts Curtain On Apple IPhone 4 At WWDC

The iPhone 4 -- ’one of the most beautiful things you’ve ever seen,’ according to Apple CEO Steve Jobs -- delivers longer battery life than the third-generation iPhone in a thinner form factor and now features a real-time video-chatting application called FaceTime.

’In 2010, we’re going to take the biggest leap since the first iPhone,’ Jobs said, introducing the fourth-generation iPhone during his opening keynote Monday at Apple’s Worldwide Developer Conference in San Francisco.

’Stop me if you’ve already seen this. But believe me, you ain’t seen it,’ he said, joking about various iPhone 4 leaks in recent months. ’It’s one of the most beautiful things you’ve ever seen. The precision with which this is made is beyond any consumer product we’ve ever seen.’

Apple will release the fourth edition of its iPhone on June 24, Jobs said. The Cupertino, Calif.-based computer and electronics maker will sell two flavors of iPhone 4 -- a 16-GB device priced at $199 and a 32-GB edition priced at $299. Apple will begin taking pre-orders for the iPhone 4 on June 15 and buyers will have their choice of either a black or white version.

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The 9.3-millimeter iPhone 4 is 24 percent thinner than its predecessor and is built around the same ARM-based A4 central processor that powers Apple’s iPad media tablet. The iPhone 4’s stainless steel frame provides structural integrity while also serving as the smartphone’s antenna -- ’a marvel of engineering,’ according to Jobs.

Speaking to a packed house at San Francisco’s Moscone Center, Jobs paced the stage for the better part of two hours, detailing the new device’s features and driving several demos from his own iPhone 4. Prior to the doors opening, a line of more than 5,000 software developers and other Apple fans snaked around three-quarters of the downtown San Francisco block where Apple hosted WWDC 2010.

The iPhone 4 has a 5-megapixel camera on the back that takes stills as well as 720p HD video. A second, front-facing camera makes the FaceTime video chatting application possible -- but only where WiFi is available. FaceTime doesn’t work with normal cellphone carrier signals, Jobs said.

The iPhone 4 has another new built-in hardware feature, a three-axis gyroscope that along with the smartphone’s accelerometer provides six-axis motion sensing. Jobs demonstrated one application of the device’s improved perception of pitch, roll and yaw with a full-body game of video Jenga.

The 3.5-inch, scratch-resistant glass display is the delivery vehicle for what Apple calls ’retina apps.’ The iPhone 4 ups the previous-generation device’s resolution to 960x640 pixels, or 326 pixels per inch, to deliver image fidelity in tune with the human retina, according to Apple’s chief executive.

Jobs said Apple had also enhanced data security and device manageability on the latest iPhone in response to feedback from business customers. Some 40 percent of iPhones are purchased by ’enterprise users,’ according to one AT&T executive’s recent comments, though it’s unlikely that businesses themselves are purchasing anywhere close to that number of units as approved smartphones for employees.

Next: Introducing iOS 4

The new phone also marks the debut of iPhone OS 4, though Apple isn’t actually calling its mobile operating system by that name anymore, Jobs said. Since the debut of the iPad tablet earlier this year, the company has decided to remove the word ’phone’ from the OS that runs its iPhone, iPad and iPod touch devices and is calling this version iOS 4.

The new operating system -- made available to developers Monday -- has more than 100 new user features, according to Jobs, including multi-tasking for the first time on an iPhone OS platform.

’We’ve come up with a good architecture for multi-tasking and a user interface that’s just the best in the industry,’ Jobs said, explaining that Apple wants to ’do it right’ before introducing such features as multi-tasking and cut-and-paste, because otherwise, ’you just burn battery life.’

The iPhone 4 will also be an e-book reader like the larger iPad, with titles also available on Apple’s iBook Store. Apple’s three online shopping destinations, the App Store, iTunes and the iBook Store, collectively possess ’150 million accounts with credit cards ready to buy your apps,’ Jobs told developers at WWDC 2010.

Apple has also begun selling advertisements that will be placed on developer apps, Jobs said. Called iAds, the advertisements have already been sold to several top name brand companies and developers will receive 60 percent of iAd revenue, according to Apple.

Early on in his keynote, Jobs took the opportunity to take some swipes at Google’s Android operating system for smartphones and other mobile devices. Google executives openly criticized the iPhone OS at the Mountain View, Calif.-based search giant’s recent I/O developer forum and the NPD Group in May reported that Android-based smartphones outsold the iPhone in the U.S. for the first quarter of 2010.

But Jobs pointed to research from Nielsen and other analysts that showed the iPhone’s first-quarter U.S. market share and percentage of overall mobile browser usage dwarfed that of devices based on Android.

’This month we will sell our 100 millionth iOS device,’ Jobs said, including iPhones, iPads and the iPod Touch in his reckoning. ’No one even comes close to this.’

As perhaps a final jab at a growing rival, Jobs noted that the new iPhone will support Microsoft's Bing search engine, a Google competitor.

One topic Jobs did not broach was the troubling string of worker suicides at the mainland China manufacturing plant of electronics component contractor Foxconn, which assembles iPhones and iPads in addition to building computer parts for numerous other companies.

Apple’s chief executive recently came under fire from labor rights groups for declaring that working conditions at the Taiwanese manufacturer’s Shenzen facility were "pretty nice."