Apple intros fourth-generation iPhone at WWDC

At 10AM Pacific Standard Time this morning, Steve Jobs took the stage at the Apple Worldwide Developers Conference in San Francisco to deliver some stunning news: Farmville is coming to the iPhone. Oh, and he also introduced a new iPhone, dubbed simply the iPhone 4.

Jobs kicked off his presentation of the new iPhone by calling it "the most beautiful thing we've ever made." The smartphone features a glass panel up front to provide a clear view of the display and a second one at the rear for added scratch resistance. Stainless steel rings the edge of the phone and also serves as a part of the antenna. Amazingly, the device measures just 9.3 mm thin, making it 24% slimmer than the current 3GS.

Under the front glass panel sits a new "Retina" display that offers four times the resolution of the 3GS. The screen still measures 3.5" diagonally but now offers a 960x640 display resolution. It should be a looker, too. The display panel is an IPS unit with a claimed contrast ratio of 800:1.

The very same A4 processor that powers the iPad sits at the heart of the iPhone 4. As one might expect given the lack of a G in the new model name, the new phone doesn't support 4G networks. Apple has, however, put in a larger battery that purportedly offers 40% more 3G talk time than you get with the 3GS. The iPhone 4 is claimed to be capable of seven hours of 3G talk time, six hours of web surfing on 3G and 10 hours on Wi-Fi, and 10 hours of video playback.

Another addition to the iPhone 4 is a three-axis gyroscope that, complete with updated CoreMotion APIs, should give game developers all sorts of interesting control options. There's a new five-megapixel camera, too. The camera is "backside illuminated" to allow more photons (units of light, not torpedoes) to enter the sensor, purportedly improving picture quality in low-light environments. Users will be able to capture 720p video at a claimed 30 frames per second, as well.

The new iPhone comes with an updated operating system that Apple calls iOS 4. As expected, multitasking is included, as is support for folders and a host of enterprise-friendly features. There's a nifty FaceTime video chat application, but it can only call other iPhone 4 users, and then only over Wi-Fi, at least for now. iOS 4 will also include Apple's new iAds advertising scheme, which is set to go live July 1. Developers will have access to the final version of iOS 4 today, with a public release to follow "soon."

A line for the iPhone 4 has undoubtedly formed outside at least one Apple store already. The phones won't go on sale until June 24, though. Pre-orders start June 15, and it looks like the US, France, Germany, the UK, and Japan will get first crack at the device on launch day. Availability will spread to additional countries, including Canada, in July. By September, the iPhone 4 will be available in a whopping 88 countries.

In the US, 16GB and 32GB versions of the iPhone 4 will sell for $199 and $299 under contract, respectively. Existing AT&T customers whose contracts expire anytime this year are eligible for an upgrade. The iPhone 3GS will remain in Apple's lineup, but only in an 8GB flavor at $99. Existing iPhone and second-gen iPod touch users who want a taste of iOS 4 will be able to get their hands on the new OS on June 21, free of charge.

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