As I write, the announcement of the iPhone 4 at WWDC is just a few hours old. See the Engadget coverage for details. The bottom line? This is too little, too late to stop the Android deluge.
There are some very cool individual features on this phone, no doubt. The two that stand out the most to me are the onboard gyroscope and the “retina display” – yes, 960 x 640 at 326ppi will be damn nice, and if I were writing apps I would seriously lust for that six-axis motion sensing. But the improvements are mainly in the hardware; Apple has conspicuously failed to address the areas where it has fallen behind Android 2.2 in software. There’s no progress on voice recognition, Flash, or WiFi hotspot capability. And even the hardware falls short of where it needs to be; while 802.11n is nice, the “G” after that “4″ is conspicuously missing.
If I were an Apple marketing guy, I’d be asking “How the hell can I compete against the EVO 4G with this?”
Maybe the biggest news is that, as I predicted, the iPhone 4 has not gone multicarrier in the U.S.. And it desperately needed to, especially after AT&T effectively shitcanned its unlimited-data plan. The hopeful rumors of a CDMA iPhone remain only hopeful rumors.
The “one more thing” rabbit Jobs pulled out of his hat was full-motion video in calls between iPhones. But it was a lame rabbit, only working over WiFi. Jobs says Apple is in talks with carriers about this, and I’ll bet a lot of the “talks” consist of AT&T cursing sulphurously about a feature that couldn’t have been better designed to bring an underprovisioned cell network to its knees if it had been done on purpose. I’m guessing this “feature” will quietly disappear into the same limbo as Apple TV.
Another point: it’s going to be tough for Apple to make any hay out of the talk of Android fragmentation since it has conceded that 3GS and older apps will need “a little work” to take full advantage of the new display.
I wasn’t anticipating a really strong riposte from Apple this time out, but the iPhone 4 manages to low-ball even my minimal expectations. Better displays were coming anyway; about the only prompt effect I can see is that this announcement will make six-axis motion sensing a checklist feature for next-generation Android phones. On the software side, Android 2.2 has certainly won this round, leaving Apple with still more lag to make up on its next refresh.