Faster iPhone With New Features Due Next Week

Apple Inc. slashed the entry price for an iPhone in half and lowered some laptops by $300 Monday, the company's first dramatic price cuts since the recession began a year and a half ago. Video by AP
By Mike Musgrove
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, June 9, 2009

The latest iPhone, available next week, is faster than its predecessors, has an improved camera, can record videos and appears to be just what many Mac fans have been waiting for this year.

Apple unveiled the latest version of its popular iPhone, called 3G S, at a trade show for Mac users yesterday in San Francisco. The company, known for using the conference to launch new, often game-changing devices, touted its next-generation iPhone as its fastest-running smartphone yet. The "S" stands for "speed," after all.

Speaking from the stage at the company's Worldwide Developers Conference, Apple vice president of worldwide marketing Philip W. Schiller showed how the new iPhone's camera lets users decide what the lens should focus on with the touch of a finger. With a set of voice controls, users can upload an iPhone video to YouTube with a spoken command.

The new device, priced at $199 and $299, will be available at the end of next week, the company said. The more expensive version comes with 32 gigabytes of storage space, a new capacity for the device. The less expensive iPhone has 16 gigabytes.

And the price of last week's cutting-edge model, the iPhone 3G? It's been reduced from $199 to $99.

Tech pundit Tim Bajarin, with Silicon Valley think tank Creative Strategies, said the cheaper, older iPhone should allow Apple to speed up the adoption of the smartphone. As for the new models, iPhone "is evolving into being a PC in your pocket, not just a smartphone," he said.

Chief executive Steve Jobs, who has long been a dominant presence on the stage at this event, was a no-show. A survivor of pancreatic cancer, Jobs has been on medical leave since January and is scheduled to return later this month. Late last week, news sites were abuzz with a report asserting that the event could mark Jobs's return to the company.

Apple had already previewed the third major version of the iPhone's operating system in March. The device's software offers 300 new features, the company said. That includes some long-overlooked basic features that iPhone owners have been waiting for since the device went on sale, such as "cut and paste," which allows users to copy text from one application to another.

Apple also introduced "Find My iPhone," a feature designed to help owners who have misplaced their device. Lose the phone under the sofa, and users will be able to send the iPhone a message ordering it to make a sound. If the device has been stolen, it will be possible to send a command to erase its memory, so that sensitive information is not compromised.

Other new applications include a GPS program that will give users turn-by-turn driving directions, another function that owners or potential owners of iPhone have been requesting. With another application from online car rental agency Zipcar, customers could unlock rental car doors by pushing an iPhone button.

The company unveiled new versions of its MacBook Pro laptops, which will feature longer-lasting batteries. According to Schiller, the number of Mac users has tripled in the last two years to 75 million.

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