Apple Launches iPhone 4

As everybody already expected, Apple “unveiled” the new iPhone tonight. It’s called the iPhone 4, and brings the iPhone up to par with what’s already available on other smartphone platforms, hardware wise, while raising the bar on a few specific points (the display, mostly). The company also announced a name change for its mobile operating system – it’s now called iOS. What we didn’t get during this year’s WWDC keynote? News about the Mac, Mac OS X, or the Apple TV. Make no mistake: the iPhone and iPad is where it’s at.

So, what does the iPhone 4 deliver when it comes to new features? Well, we already knew how it would look, so there’s little news there. It comes with a better camera, LED flash, faster processor (the Apple A4), a much improved screen (very high PPI), gyroscope for pitch, roll, and yaw, front-facing camera, and, of course, iOS 4.

The screen is quite interesting. Apple calls it a Retina Display, which means it squeezes four times as many pixels into the same 3.5″ display the iPhone 3GS had. The end result is an astonishing 326 pixels per square inch, delivering extremely crisp and sharp text and images. Current iPhone applications will look a lot better, and of course, developers can optimise their applications for the new display.

The front-facing camera is used in Apple’s version of video chat, which it calls FaceTime. It pretty much works as you would expect video chat to work, and apart from Apple claiming it invented video chat (I’m not making this up), it looks like a very promising technology: Apple is going to submit FaceTime to a standards body.

It’s built on top of SIP, STUN, TURN, ICE, RTP and SRTP (whatever those are). Sadly, but not surprisingly, it uses AAC for audio, and H264 for video. In other words, standards body or no, it will not become an open standard as Steve Jobs claimed on stage (at least, that’s how the live bloggers put it). For now, it’ll be WiFi only, since carriers are not yet ready for 3G video chat.

The iPhone 4 will be made available in 88 countries between June 24 and September, in black and white models, 16GB or 32GB. iOS 4, detailed earlier this year, will be released June 21.

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