As was heavily predicted – Apple yesterday announced the upcoming release of the new version of the iPhone 3G at the WWDC 2009 conference. Phil Schiller, Apple’s senior VP delivered the keynote which unveiled the iPhone 3GS (the “S” we’re told, is for speed).
The 3rd-generation iPhone addresses most (if not all) of the major criticism surrounding the original iPhone 3G and brings a raft of new features and upgrades including better battery life, video recording, more memory and faster processing. All this in addition to the new iPhone 3.0 software update which will deliver MMS messaging and finally, cut and paste.
First up, there are some big changes to the camera. The camera on the iPhone isn’t terrible, but it certainly hasn’t been a strong point. The iPhone 3GS brings a new, high-quality (3MP) auto-focus camera that can also video-record VGA video at 30fps. The new auto-focus feature automatically focuses on the centre of the frame. To shift the focus to other objects, all you have to do is tap on them. Video can be shot in both portrait and landscape and is as equally intuitive to use as the camera. One tap to start recording, one tap to stop. The video is saved into the camera roll along with your photos. You can also edit you videos right there on your iPhone. Tapping on the video brings up on-screen controls. You can easily crop videos by dragging to select the video you want to keep and trim to save the changes.
The 3GS introduces full-featured voice control for the first time on the iPhone. You simply hold down the home button (or microphone on the hands-free) to bring up voice control and then issue a command. For example “Call John Smith” will automatically dial the number for you. You can also dictate a phone number “Dial 0-4-1-2” etc. But the 3GS takes voice control even further – you can even control your music by voice commands: “Play The Beatles – yellow submarine” for example, or “Play playlist favorites” will automatically start the right song. You can ask the iPhone 3GS to “Play songs like this” – which uses genius to construct a new playlist, or even ask “What song is this?” – the 3GS will respond: “Now playing: The Beatles – Yellow Submarine”. Now that’s cool.
The 3GS promises improved performance across the board. A faster processor and upgraded graphics means faster switching between applications (2x faster opening times according to Schiller), faster scrolling, faster zooming and a generally more responsive device. And better graphics means better 3D games.
The 3GS also has longer battery life and now delivers:
Two New Native Apps: Compass and Voice Notes
The iPhone 3GS comes with a built in digital compass. It looks just like a normal compass on the screen, and immediately tells you which direction you’re heading in. You can display the GPS co-ordinates of your current location and select from true north or magnetic north to guide you. This wasn’t expected, but it is a nice touch.
With voice memos, you can now record your meetings, lectures or make personal notes. You can sync the audio files to Mac or PC. There are a number of features associated with the voice notes – you can view a list of recordings, label, trim, email or even MMS them to a friend or colleague.
It’s been long-awaited and long overdue, but you will finally be able to send MMS on the iPhone. MMS messages can include photos, video, map locations and voice messages. You can take a new photo and directly insert it into the message or select one that’s already in your photo library. MMS will however, be available to all iPhone users with the 3.0 software update.
Again, not strictly a 3GS update – but cut and paste will finally be fully-integrated into the iPhone. In an email for example, you simply select a word by double tapping it, drag to select other words and then tap to copy. You then tap the cursor to bring up the “paste” command. You can also cut from safari – you tap to make your selection (which can include images) and then you can paste into an email, with formatting still intact. If you make a mistake, you can shake to undo.
A great new feature (also being released with 3.0), is app specific searching (mail, calendar, notes, ipod) and global spotlight search. Search will allows you to quickly find the information that you need without having to hunt through all your emails or notes to find it.
The iPhone 3GS will be available in the US & UK from June 19, in Australia from June 26. 16GB will cost $199, the 32GB $299 – and the price of the original 8GB iPhone 3G will drop to just $99.