Apple unveils iPhone 4, touts 'FaceTime' video chat

New iPhone goes on sale June 24, Apple to take pre-orders June 15 (see video, below)

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Apple's iPhone 4 will be powered by iOS 4, the partial-mutlitasking operating system that the company previewed in April. Current owners of the iPhone 3G and 3GS will be able to download the operating system as a free upgrade starting June 21. As most expected, iOS 4 will not be available for users of the first-generation iPhone.

Jobs trumpeted iOS 4 as "the most advanced mobile operating system in the world," while he covered some of the same feature ground he did in April, including restricted multitasking, folders, and better data protection. Among the few new features not confirmed before: The addition of Microsoft's Bing as a search engine choice for users. "Microsoft has done a great job on this," said Jobs.

One of the most interesting moments during Jobs' keynote was when his iPhone 4 refused to load a page. "I'm sorry guys, I don't know what's going on," said Jobs during the glitch. "Got any suggestions?" After someone in the audience shouted out "Verizon!" Jobs replied: "We're actually on Wi-Fi here." Later, Jobs asked reporters and bloggers in the hall to put down their laptops so Apple could have sole use of the Wi-Fi network.

Jobs spent considerable time describing the iPhone 4's increased pixel density, calling it a "magic number" that renders sharper text, images and video. "Once you use a Retina Display, you can't go back," said Jobs, referring to Apple's name for the new technology. iPhone 4's 960-by-640-pixel display -- it's the same 3-by-5-in. screen as in previous models -- also offers four times the contrast of the iPhone 3GS, Jobs said.

As expected, the iPhone 4 is powered by the same Apple-designed A4 SOC (system on a chip) that runs the iPad media tablet, and will come in the familiar 16GB and 32GB storage capacity configurations.

Apple also swapped out the older 3-megapixel camera in the iPhone 3GS for a 5-megapixel camera that for the first time not only takes still images, but captures video. "We think we have a great camera," said Jobs, who added that the camera will grab HD-quality 720p video at 30 frames-per-second. To support the camera's video-capture capability, Apple will sell an iPhone version of iMovie, its consumer-grade video editing software, for $4.99 on the App Store.

Developers get their hands on the "gold master," the final build of iOS 4, today.

To Gottheil, the most striking aspect of Jobs keynote was when the CEO stressed that there would be 100 million installations of its mobile operating system around the world by the end of this month.

"That's triple the number of Mac OS installations," Gottheil said. "This is the platform of the future. This is what real people need instead of a computer."

Dulaney agreed. "Not everyone owns a [personal computer], but everyone owns a phone," he said. "[Mobile] is the browsing engine in the world, not computers."

The  iPhone 4
Apple unveiled the new, slimmer iPhone 4 at its Worldwide Developers Conference.

Gregg Keizer covers Microsoft, security issues, Apple, Web browsers and general technology breaking news for Computerworld. Follow Gregg on Twitter at @gkeizer or subscribe to Gregg's RSS feed . His e-mail address is gkeizer@ix.netcom.com.

Copyright © 2010 IDG Communications, Inc.

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