SAN FRANCISCO — Apple CEO Steve Jobs is known for making big announcements at Macworld Expo. Today would be no different, especially when he teased the crowd by promising three “breakthroughs” this time around: a cell phone, a wide-screen iPod and an Internet Communicator.
But Jobs, in his fashion, finally revealed the breakthroughs as one product, the iPhone, moving the crowd to numerous rounds of applause and finally putting to rest industry chatter.
But you could hear the proverbial pin from the Sprint commercials drop when he said we won’t be able to have it till June.
Jobs said FCC authorizations and other issues account for the delay. But with the industry buzzing with speculation, Jobs & Company couldn’t wait any longer.
He said the iPhone has been in development for two-and-a-half years, which is one indication of Apple’s transformation. Another is the company’s name change. Apple Computer is now Apple Inc.
Jobs dissed what he said other vendors call “smartphones” that are “hard to use for even the basic stuff” and their “baby” Web browsers.
Navigation with a touch.
Running on Mac OS X, the iPhone is a widescreen mobile phone that functions as an iPod and Internet communications device.
Jobs ran the 4GB iPhone through its paces, from playing songs and videos off iTunes to surfing the Web from Apple’s familiar Safari browser.
Apple’s Multi-Touch touch-screen input is “far more accurate” than traditional touch-screen input, according to Jobs. Users can scroll through photos and music selections by running their fingers along the bottom of the iPhone screen. They can access contacts in the same way.
Retrieving voicemail is easier with the iPhone. Users only need touch on the message to hear it. More significantly, the iPhone can display a list of voice messages and even, potentially, the sender’s photos, so you can pick which message you want to listen to first rather than listen to them in order.
Google CEO Eric Schmidt and Yahoo cofounder and “Chief Yahoo” Jerry Yang also joined Jobs on stage to praise the iPhone, which will sport free services from both companies, Google Maps and Yahoo Mail, respectively.
The Yahoo mail feature is a “push” e-mail service much like the Blackberry. This way, users don’t have to check to see if they have new e-mail and can instead wait until it automatically arrives to the inbox.
But the most innovative feature is the touch-screen interface. Jobs said Apple has filed over 200 patents related to the phone.
A “pinch” feature lets you squeeze a photo between your fingers to expand or compact the image. Jobs said the iPhone’s virtual onscreen keyboard is better for typing than most of the plastic tiny keyboards in most smartphones.
Other innovations include a built-in proximity sensor that recognizes when the phone is held to your ear, shutting off the touch-screen input so nothing random is entered. The iPhone also automatically reformats the 3.5-inch screen to wide format when the phone is turned horizontally.
Connectivity includes quad-band GSM, EDGE, all three Wi-Fi protocols — 802.11b/g and the forthcoming 802.11n — as well as Bluetooth 2.0 and EDR wireless.
Cingular will be Apple’s exclusive partner under a multiyear agreement. The 4GB iPhone will run $499 and an 8GB version will be $599.
Separately, Jobs announced Apple will ship Apple TV next month. Previously known by the codename iTV, Apple TV is a $299 device that connects PCs, Macs and iPods to widescreen TVs.