As I write this, lines are forming outside Apple Stores around the US for the next gen iPhone. The new iPhone, which was announced at the 2008 WWDC show in June, uses the faster 3G data network, has built-in GPS (Global Positioning System), and the new iPhone 2.0 software. Apple calls it the 3G iPhone.
The biggest news about the new iPhone is the price, $199 for the 8GB model and $299 for the 16GB model. The bad news is when you go to get your iPhone, you are only allowed to purchase one phone, unless you purchase it under a business plan. Another move, new to buying an iPhone at the Apple Store, is that you have to activate the phone before leaving the store. The lower iPhone price is due to AT&T subsidizing part of the cost of the phone. Because of this, AT&T wants to make sure they get all their money up front. The only way to do this is to make sure that everyone who purchases an iPhone has an AT&T contract before they leave the store. Last year when the first iPhone was released, those who purchased the iPhone at the Apple Store got just the phone and did the activation online through the iTunes Store. Eventually, users found a way to unlock the iPhone and use it on cellular networks other than AT&T.
The 3G feature in the iPhone allows it to receive and send data much faster than the original iPhone, which could only use the slower EDGE network. 3G speeds can even start to compete with standard ADSL. Typical 3G networks can receive data somewhere around 700 to 1,500 Mbs. Upload speeds can be around 500 to 800 Mbs (Megabits per second). There have been reports of people that have 3G phones of getting up to 2 Gbs in quick bursts.
The unfortunate part is that AT&T does not have a widespread 3G network. 3G is only available in larger metro areas across the US. You will definitely want to check out the AT&T website to see if your area is in the coverage zone. (http://www.wireless.att.com/coverageviewer/)
While surfing using a 3G network, you are receiving and sending data through the cellular network. Depending on the plan you purchase, this can cost you extra money if you do too much surfing. Just like the original iPhone, the new 3G iPhone does have WiFi wireless networking. If you have access to a free WiFi hotspot, or you have a WiFi network at home or at work, you can surf as much as you want without using up your data plan.
While 3G may not be available in your area, GPS should be. GPS uses orbiting satellites that allow the iPhone to give you much more precise location data compared to the system used in the original iPhone. The original iPhone used WiFi locations and cell tower triangulation to get an approximate location, which works, but not the most accurate system.
When the 3G iPhone becomes available on July 11th, Apple will also be opening an online iPhone Applications store. This is where iPhone and iPod Touch users will be able to go to get new applications that run on their devices. Owners of first gen devices must upgrade to the new 2.0 software. This is free for iPhone owners, but costs $10 to upgrade the iPod Touch.
Applications on the iPhone App Store will be an assortment of business, finance, health, games, music, video, travel, weather, reference, educational, social networking, just to name a few. Some of the most anticipated apps are ones that handle chat, allowing you to communicate with others without having to send SMS messages, which can be very costly depending on your iPhone's plan. The other major category should be gaming. The iPhone/Touch has a nice large screen that is also very sharp. Gaming on the iPhone/Touch should be very popular. Some samples of games shown by Apple even use the iPhones accelerometer to control motion in the game. Turning or tilting the iPhone side to side can be read by the game to control a character's movement or to steer a vehicle.
To get to the App store from your Mac, you will need the new iTunes 7.7. If you don't have it yet, just use the OS X Software Updates function under the blue apple in the upper left corner of your screen. To purchase Apps you will need an iTunes account, which if you have been buying music you already have one. If not, it only takes a few minutes to set up an account, then purchasing Apps will be just a few clicks away. They will download to your Mac and when you sync you iPhone/Touch the Apps should automatically load up for you.
Apple has also added the ability to purchase Apps right on the iPhone using the new 2.0 software. This can be done while connected via the EDGE or 3G data network, or better yet, by using a WiFi network.
Prices on the App Store are set by the publisher, not by Apple. Some Apps will be available free of charge, while others will be in the 5, 10, 20, and $50 range. Apple runs the store so they take a cut of the selling price. All Apps in the Apple Store go through a stringent test to certify that they are safe to run. Apple has always stated they want the iPhone to be as secure of a device as possible. Smart phones, like the iPhone, can get hacked or get viruses, just like any computer.
No matter which way you go, either updating the software on your existing iPhone/Touch, or by getting the new 3G iPhone, Apple is pressing ahead as a cellular innovator. The new 3G iPhone went on sale starting at 8 a.m. Friday the 11th, causing even more iPhone mania.
(As of this writing, AT&T does not have any 3G networks in the Erie-Warren-Jamestown-Fredonia-Dunkirk area. This may change in the future as 3G is slowly deployed in AT&T areas. AT&T only recently took over the Dobson Cellular One system in our area.)