San Franicisco — True to the rumors preceding the MacWorld Conference here, Apple unveiled the long-awaited iPhone and a set-top box called Apple TV.
The iPhone will be available in June starting at $499. It has a “smart” widescreen touch screen that controls all functions, including dialing. Apple calls it “the most revolutionary user interface since the mouse.” Users scroll through songs or dial on a soft keypad with their finger.
The phone operates over the Cingular quadband GSM/EDGE network and will be sold in both Cingular and Apple stores.
Compared with the iPod, the iPhone has a larger 3.5-inch screen with touch controls and a wider viewing angle for watching video. It syncs content from iTunes and can play any music or movies purchased from iTunes.
The iPhone also uses an advanced Web browser that includes a built-in Google and Yahoo! search and which can multitask so a user can read a Web page while downloading e-mail in the background over Wi-Fi or EDGE. It also provides access to Google Maps and information such as traffic and map directions.
One standout feature of the iPhone is “visual voicemail,” which shows a listing of voicemails so users can decide which to answer first. The unit also has a built-in accelerometer so it automatically “knows” when to switch from landscape to portrait mode.
It includes a 2-megapixel camera and comes in 4GB or 8GB models at $499 and $599, respectively. Details of contract commitments were not available from Apple or Cingular.
Cingular is exhibiting at International CES at AT&T’s booth but was not showing the iPhone.
John Jackson, VP and senior analyst at M:Metrics, a research firm, noted, “The decision to design the iPhone with a smartphone orientation was a very wise, yet unexpected move that puts Apple squarely against Microsoft and the Nokia N-series. Whereas the expected profusion of music-centric devices would dilute the value of an iPod-like phone, the demand for smartphones is steadily growing, and now Mac enthusiasts can finally get their hands on the seminal Apple mobile device.”
Joining the iPhone is Apple TV, which Apple calls “a DVD player for the 21st century.” It streams movies and other media to a TV from a Mac or PC using high-speed Airport 802.11n wireless networking.
The Apple TV lets users browse through a collection of digital media from across the room using an Apple remote. It has a 40GB hard drive to store up to 50 hours of video and can deliver high-definition 720p output. Apple said the unit can stream content from up to five computers. The Apple TV is expected to ship in February at a suggested retail of $299.
Apple also announced that more than 2 billion songs, 50 million TV episodes and more than 1.3 million feature-length films have been purchased and downloaded from the iTunes store.