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Apple's News: iPhone 2.0, iPhone 3G, Mobile Me

If you've been waiting to buy the new iPhone, you can now mark your calendar for July 11.

Steve Jobs
Steve Jobs unveils the new iPhone model in San Francisco on Monday. (Bloomberg)

Earlier today, Apple chief executive Steve Jobs opened the company's annual developers conference in San Francisco by unveiling the new iPhone 3G, along with a software update for existing iPhones and a MobileMe Internet service that will replace its .Mac offering.

Here's my take on the news, based on my gleaning of third-party reports and Apple's own propaganda. (I'm not in the Bay Area for the news; I'm here, melting in the heat like everybody else in D.C.)

* The iPhone 3G took up the last part of Jobs' keynote presentation, but it's the part that will almost certainly have people lining up in front of Apple Stores (I know, it's not like they're not going to make millions of the things, so the idea of camping out on a sidewalk to be among the first few dozen escapes me). It includes 3G wireless broadband -- which Apple says will be 2.4 times as fast as the first iPhone's EDGE connection -- and Global Positioning System support. In the small-but-helpful fixes department, the iPhone 3G will also have a flush headphone jack, allowing you to use any old headphone without needing an adapter.

The new iPhone. (Courtesy of Apple)

It will go on sale July 11 in two versions: an 8-gigabyte model, selling for $199, and a 16 GB version that will go for $299. As before, it will be AT&T-only in the United States (although Apple says it will be sold in 24 other countries on that date). It's unclear if this new model will still be permanently locked to function only on AT&T, but I'd be (pleasantly) surprised if that were not the case. An AT&T news release notes that those prices require signing up for a two-year contract, indicates that unlimited Internet access will cost $30 a month (up from $20 now) and reveals that Apple will no longer get a cut of AT&T's subscriber fees on each iPhone.

* The new iPhone 2.0 software will ship on the iPhone 3G and will be a free upgrade for older models; iPod touch owners will have to pay $9.95 for it. Today's presentation covered many of the features Apple first previewed in March -- starting with support for third-party applications and support for "enterprise" mobile-employee features beyond the scope of this blog -- but also revealed a few secret-until-now items.

One may solve the problem of third-party programs not being able to run in the background, which at first appeared to make programs like instant-messaging applications impossible: The iPhone's own software will listen for notices from other Internet services, then wake up whatever program is supposed to act upon them. The second is the ability to search through your contacts list. A third is the ability to delete and move more than one e-mail message at once.

But the feature I was most hoping to see -- support for copying and pasting text between applications -- apparently remains absent from the iPhone universe.

* Jobs turned his attention from the iPhone, somewhat, to demonstrate Mobile Me, a cross-platform Internet service that can keep your contacts, calendar, e-mail, photos and files in sync between Macs, PCs and, apparently, any other kind of computer that can run a Web browser. When it ships in July, this $99/year service will take the place of Apple's old, also $99/year .Mac service.

You'll be able to access all your information through a few different types of applications: the Mail, Address Book, iCal and iLife programs on a Mac running OS X 10.4 or 10.5; a Windows PC's Outlook, Outlook Express or (in Windows Vista) Windows Contacts; and a set of Web-based applications that should run in any modern browser. Users will get 20 gigabytes of online storage in the deal.

.Mac users will get an automatic upgrade to the new service, along with a second e-mail address: In addition to their old addresses, they'll now get a new address with the same user name as before.

In concept, Mobile Me sounds extremely appealing -- my inability to keep a consistent set of contacts between all my different computers often forces me to look up e-mail addresses on my smartphone's address book. The big unknown here, however, is if you'll be confined to the applications Apple outlines on its site or if other developers will be able to add Mobile Me support to applications that compete with Outlook and Outlook Express.

For a much more detailed recounting of today's announcements, have a look at the live-blogging done by Engadget and MacRumors; MacInTouch leads off with a detailed summary of the news.

And there you have it. What do you think? Will you queue up at an Apple Store on July 11? Will you ante up for MobileMe after ignoring .Mac?

By Rob Pegoraro  |  June 9, 2008; 2:37 PM ET
Categories:  Mac  
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