Cheers for New iPhone, Jeers for AT&T

By Naomi Graychase

June 08, 2009

Apple today announced its new iPhone, the 3G S which, despite being named for its speed, still features 802.11b/g Wi-Fi. Upgrades include 30% more battery life for Wi-Fi use and tethering--although not for AT&T customers. (Sorry, America.)

Over 5200 developers from 54 countries were present today at the WorldWide Developers Conference (WWDC) in San Francisco to hear the latest announcements from Apple. Rumors of a new iPhone were confirmed when Scott Forstall took the stage and announced not only is it coming—and coming soon—it'll be here in eleven days.

According to Philip Schiller, Apple’s senior vice president of WorldWide Product Marketing, the new iPhone 3G S ($299 and up) “is the fastest, most powerful iPhone yet.” In a statement issued today he said, “We think people will love the incredible new features, including autofocus camera, video recording, and the freedom of voice control.”

Feeling the need

The iPhone 3G S launches messages more than twice as quickly as its predecessor, which enjoyed a giant price drop today down to $99 (perhaps because it now seems so slow). Apple says iPhone 3G S can load SimCity nearly two and a half times faster than iPhone 3G and launch The New York Times almost three times faster than iPhone 3G.

The “s,” says Apple, stands for “speed.”

Feature-rich

The new iPhone OS 3.0 will feature the long-awaited Cut, Copy, and Paste feature that iPhone users have groused about since the outset. MMS will be available to users in some countries (but not immediately in the U.S.).

A new tethering feature means that users can share an Internet connection with a Mac or a PC, either via a USB connection or wirelessly (using Bluetooth). 22 carrier partners worldwide are supporting the feature, but (more bad news for American customers) AT&T, the exclusive U.S. carrier, isn’t one of them.

Journalists at the news conference reported rowdy boos from the crowd directed at A&T for not supporting MMS (immediately) or tethering (perhaps at all).

Lost and found

A new Find My iPhone feature means that iPhones left in cabs or otherwise misplaced (or stolen) can be located on a map. Available to MobileMe customers only, users can log in to a browser and signal an alert sound, even if the phone is set to “Silent.” The user’s home number is displayed in the hope that a good Samaritan will see it and make the call. If the phone is somewhere at home, the alert helps users find it. And, if it’s gone for good, there's a remote wipe command to annihilate any compromised (or compromising) data.

Bluetooth also enables the new peer-to-peer connectivity so that iPhone users within range of one another can play games against each other.

Developers will also be able to put Google Maps into their applications, complete with pan/zoom, annotations, and turn-by-turn directions. And the iPhone 3G S will offer streaming technology, so users can watch live TV.

Apple says 40 million iPod touches and iPhones have been sold (although that was before today’s announcement, which we suspect boosted that number ever so slightly). Sadly, none of them offer 802.11n Wi-Fi. The iPhone 3G S remains stuck in the land of 802.11b/g.

Pre-orders for the new iPhone, which has a battery rated for nine hours of Wi-Fi per charge—a 30% improvement over the 3G—are available now from Apple with free shipping June 19th.

New laptops

Also announced today were updates to the MacBook Pro family, all of which feature 802.11n.

A new version of the 15-inch MacBook Pro ($1699 and up) with unibody construction features a lithium-polymer battery that offers up to seven hours of battery life and a lifespan roughly 60% longer than typical laptop batteries. Specs include up to a 3.06GHz Core 2 Duo processor and up to 8GB of DDR3 RAM. Instead of an ExpressCard/34 slot, the new MacBook Pro will sport an SD card.

The new 17-inch MacBook Pro ($2499 and up) also gets a facelift, but keeps its ExpressCard/34 slot. Both are shipping now, along with a revamped 13-inch MacBook ($1199 and up) and MacBook Air ($1799).

Ever mindful of the environment, all of the new MacBooks are compliant with the newest Energy Star Rating (5), which hasn’t even been officially released yet.

The WWDC opened today and ends Friday.

For more Apple coverage, read:

Naomi Graychase is Managing Editor at Wi-Fi Planet. She has been covering personal technology since 1994. Follow her on Twitter @WiFiPlanet.

Originally published on .

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