Apple announces the iPhone
Apple's 8GB iPhone has just one button, the rest of the functions being controlled by a 3.5-inch widescreen touch-sensitive display. You can swipe, drag, zoom and type using just two fingers, and it's intelligent 'multi-touch' user interface senses and ignores spurious touches. It runs on Mac OS X: a "desktop-class" operating system, and has phone, internet and portable audio- and video-player capabilities, essentially combining three products into one device.
On-board is a proximity sensor, which turns the screen off when you put the iPhone to your ear (saving battery power and ignoring touchscreen inputs from the face), an ambient light sensor, which sets the screen contrast to suit the current light levels, and an accelerometer, which senses when you have turned the phone on its side, and flips the screen from portrait to landscape view. Apple Widgets can be loaded onto it, and there's a Google Maps application, allowing users to use the iPhone like a pocket map.
Unlike the iPod, iPhone runs on OS X: an operating system that is familiar to many, and one that already has audio software designed solely for it. Providing Apple are happy for third-party peripherals (such as basic audio interfaces) to be made for the iPhone, as they have done in the past with the likes of Griffin with their iPod accessories, we could see the iPhone in use for more than just communication applications, and perhaps useful in recording environments. Currently, there is a variety of Widgets designed for OS X and audio users, including tap-tempo meters and delay calculators, and the iPhone may pave the way for many new audio tools that we could potentially carry around in our pockets. Of course this is merely speculation, as is pretty much all talk relating to Apple — mainly down to their "we don't talk about future developments" regime.
Phone-wise, it looks like a fairly smooth operator (excuse the pun). In the US, Apple have teamed up with the Cingular network, and have created new features, such as 'visual voicemail', which allows you to select your voice messages like emails, rather than having to listen to them all before getting to the latest one. There are also much more flexible functions for conference calling, and you can add callers to a conference in a similar way as you would with an instant messaging application.
The iPhone will be on sale in the US in June 2007, costing $599 on a two-year Cingular contract. It should reach Europe in the final quarter of 2007, and Asia in 2008.
In other Apple news, the company has officially changed its name to Apple Inc., from Apple Computer Inc., a move that reflects their focus away from the Mac.