Apple has unveiled a new 3G version of its popular iPhone - and it will be cheaper to buy than ever.
The next-generation device is thinner than its predecessor and will also run on the 3G mobile phone network. This will allow users to surf the internet at faster speeds than is currently possible on the original iPhone, which uses slower Edge technology. It will also feature built-in GPS technology, which will enable users to use their iPhone as a satellite-navigation device both in-car and on-foot using Google Maps.
It will cost UK customers about £100 when it goes on sale on 11 July, compared to the £269 the iPhone originally cost went on sale in the UK last November. It will be rolled out to 70 countries worldwide over the next few months. The 8GB iPhone will be $199 (£100) down from $399, while the 16GB version will be $299 (£150) and will also be available in white.
Steve Jobs, Apple's chief executive, announced that more than six million iPhones had been sold globally since the device first went on sale in the US in July 2007. But he also said that one of the main reasons people had given for not buying the handset, which combines a touchscreen phone with an iPod and web browser, was that it was too expensive.
"Everybody wants an iPhone but we need to make it more affordable," he said.
Mr Jobs also announced details about the new software that will power the next-genreation iPhone. Key features include an eBay application, which will help users keep track of auctions and bids, a blogging application for blogging on the go, and BlackBerry-style push-email, whereby messages are delivered automatically to the device as soon as they are received.
Mr Jobs emphasised the security features of the new iPhone software, which even allows users to wipe the memory of their device remotely if it is lost or stolen.
He said that the iPhone 2.0 software represented a "giant step forward from where we've been".
One of the most popular applications demonstrated at the conference was an iPhone version of the Super Monkey Ball computer game from Sega, in which on-screen characters are controlled by tilting and moving the iPhone itself rather than pressing any buttons. And a British-made application, called Band, which simulates musical instruments on the iPhone screen and allows users to compose songs, drew cheers and wild applause from delegates.
iPhone users will also be able to view Apple and Microsoft files, such as Word documents or Keynote presentations, on their phone, but not edit them. Apple has also added a scientific calculator to the device, and parental controls.
"It's super-easy to download documents as attachments and look at them on the iPhone," said Jobs.
Many applications will be available for free from the iTunes App Store, while others, including games, will cost in the region of about £10. The new software will be available as a free download for iPhone users in July, but will cost iPod touch owners about £10.
Apple also made a major leap into "cloud computing" with the launch of Mobile Me. It will allow users to access their photos, emails and calendars via the internet, and will automatically synchronise all changes made in these programs to multiple devices.
It means that if you add a contact to your address book, or change an appointment time, those alterations will be carried across to all devices linked to a user's personal MobileMe account. It works on both Macs and PCs, simply by typing Mobileme.com into a web browser, and will cost $99 (£50) per year. However, a 60-day free trial will be launched alongside iPhone 2.0 in July.
Mr Jobs also confirmed that the next version of Apple's computer operating system will be called Snow Leopard.
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