: Photo: Jim Merithew/Wired.com SAN FRANCISCO -- As conferences go, Apple's Worldwide Developer Conference ranks low on the sexiness factor. It's a good bet that, without the promise of a new, iPhone 3G, the programmer-centric conference would not have drawn the hundreds of broadcast, print and blog journalists that it did.
Fortunately, Apple CEO Steve Jobs did have a new iPhone up his sleeve, and after spending an hour selling the company's new iPhone development tools and previewing some of the platform's forthcoming apps, Jobs delivered what we all came for: the new phone.
The iPhone 3G, as it will be called, will cost $200 for an 8-GB version, $300 for a 16-GB version. Both will be available in a new, slightly rounded case with a shiny black-plastic back. The 16-GB version will also be available with a white back.
Breaking with Jobs' keynote tradition, the iPhone 3G is not yet available: Both models will go on sale July 11 in 22 countries. Apple plans to make the phone available in 75 countries within several months.
For details, check out our full coverage of the WWDC 2008 keynote
, or browse these slides for the highlights.
Jobs' normal "reality-distortion field" seemed to be at ebb during today's keynote, which many observers noted was less exciting than a typical Jobs presentation. Indeed, Jobs -- looking thinner than ever in his trademark black mock-turtleneck -- let his deputies take most of the stage time. More than one audience member noticed that Jobs seemed to be looking a little wan and have less energy than usual. And maybe it's time for a new turtleneck? This one was looking a little gray, not to mention baggy.
: Photo: Jim Merithew/Wired.com Apple's Phil Schiller, a regular fixture at Apple keynotes, touted the phone's new integration with Microsoft Exchange using "ActiveStink -- I mean ActiveSync." Was that an intentional dig at the Cupertino company's sometime competitor, sometime partner? Or was it a true Freudian slip, indicating Schiller's habitual distaste for the nearly ubiquitous Microsoft standard?
It's not clear. One thing is sure, though: Apple has provided deep and meaningful enterprise tools in the 2.0 version of the iPhone software, including the ability to "push" e-mail, calendar and contact updates. The company has also given IT managers the ability to zero out any data on a corporate iPhone, remotely -- handy when one of them goes missing.
: Photo: Jim Merithew/Wired.com Apple executive Scott Forstall demonstrates how easy it is to create an iPhone application using the software development kit's new tools. You just drag in this snippet of code here, drop a button there and presto! Instant contact manager.
Like other software-development demos, this one had a lot in common with cooking demonstrations on TV: So much depends on having everything set up just right, ahead of time. In real life, you'd spend half a day doing prep work before you got to do the five minutes of dragging-and-dropping that Forstall showed onstage.
Still, developer after developer testified to the ease of developing iPhone apps. It's clear that if you're used to coding OS X apps, the iPhone should be a cakewalk.
: Photo: Jim Merithew/Wired.com One of the applications shown at the March preview of the iPhone SDK was Sega's popular Nintendo DS title Super Monkey Ball. This game will be available for the iPhone for $10 -- once the iPhone App Store opens -- and will feature all four cute little monkeys and more than 100 different levels. Players control the rolling monkeys simply by tilting the iPhone this way and that.
: Photo: Jim Merithew/Wired.com Developers who want to create location-aware applications have plenty to drool over with the new iPhone 2.0 operating system, which has plenty of support for geographic data. In addition to the first-generation iPhone's ability to do geolocation by triangulating nearby WiFi hotspots and cell towers, the iPhone 3G will also have a GPS receiver, giving the device the ability to track its movements with great precision.
In this demo by location-sensitive social network Loopt, the orange pin denotes the user's location, while blue pins show nearby friends. Looking for someone to have lunch with? Loopt can help you hook up with someone and can even help recommend a cute little local cafe. (Friends not included.)
: Photo: Jim Merithew/Wired.com Major League Baseball's iPhone app takes advantage of the phone's fast 3-G and WiFi data connections to provide real-time game scores -- and "real-time video clips." That doesn't mean you'll be able to watch streaming video of the whole game, but highlight clips will be available for you to view within "minutes" after they happen, the MLB developer promised.
: Photo: Jim Merithew/Wired.com Among the most impressive iPhone app demos of the day were graphics-intensive ones, including a medical-imaging program and this game, called Kroll, from Digital Legends. In the demo, a fully animated character ran through a beautifully rendered fantasy landscape, battling winged demons and an immense, scary-looking giant whose steps shook the very screen.
Like the many other developers who took the stage, Digital Legends touted the ease of porting its OS X software to the iPhone -- and also provided an impressive demonstration of the phone's built-in 3-D video capabilities. In terms of graphics quality, this game looked comparable to what you might find on a PlayStation 2.
: Photo: Jim Merithew/Wired.com Perhaps the biggest news of the day was a three-digit number: $199, the price of the 8-GB iPhone 3G. That's a significant drop from the current price for the 8-GB first-generation iPhone ($399), and a huge drop from the $600 that it cost when Apple first introduced the iPhone a year ago.
As if the mere figure weren't impressive enough, Jobs had the price stomp onstage with massive booming sounds, saving him from having to actually say the word Boom
: Photo: Jim Merithew/Wired.com The new iPhone 3G comes with a shiny black-plastic back, in contrast to the current model's matte aluminum. If you decide to spring for the more capacious 16-GB model (which will cost $299), you can also choose a shiny white-plastic back.
The iPhone 3G itself doesn't appear to be any smaller, thinner or lighter than the current version, although it has tapered, slightly rounded edges, which will either make it feel thinner or make it feel more like a bar of soap.
: Photo: Jim Merithew/Wired.com Jobs made his customary brief appearance in the middle of the crowd, surrounded by burly bodyguards, after the keynote wrapped up. However, he didn't spend any time chitchatting with the hoi polloi, and no one got any hands-on time with his shiny new gadget.
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