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Apple Previews iPhone 3G and 'Snow Leopard' at WWDC

At its Worldwide Developer Conference (WWDC) being held this week in San Francisco, Apple released preliminary details of "Snow Leopard," the forthcoming successor to Mac OS X 10.5 ("Leopard") and the next major revision to the Mac operating system. The company also debuted iPhone 3G, which is slated to ship July 11.

Mac OS X 'Snow Leopard'
The next revision of Mac OS X will focus on performance, according to Apple, "rather than focusing primarily on new features."

"We have delivered more than a thousand new features to OS X in just seven years and Snow Leopard lays the foundation for thousands more," said Bertrand Serlet, Apple senior vice president of Software Engineering, in a statement released today. "In our continued effort to deliver the best user experience, we hit the pause button on new features to focus on perfecting the world's most advanced operating system."

What does this mean? For one, Mac OS X is going through an optimization period, refining performance on multi-core processors through a new technology code-named "Grand Central" and taking greater advantage of GPUs through the adoption of OpenCL ("Open Computing Language"), which, as Apple described it, "lets any application tap into the vast gigaflops of GPU computing power previously available only to graphics applications." OpenCL is a proposed open standard.

Further, now Leopard will increase the practical software limit on system memory up to 16 TB.

Other changes revealed today include:

  • The introduction of QuickTime X, which will be optimized for "modern audio and video formats";
  • A new version of Safari, Apple's Web browser, which promises a 53 percent increase in JavaScript performance to enhance the experience of Web 2.0 applications; and
  • For the enterprise, native support for Microsoft Exchange 2007 in Mail, iCal, and Address Book.

Apple said Snow Leopard will ship in about a year. We'll bring you further details as they become available.

iPhone 3G Launch
During his keynote address at Apple's annual Worldwide Developer Conference (WWDC) Monday, CEO Steve Jobs debuted the company's new iPhone 3G, an update to the popular mobile phone and computing device set for delivery July 11. Developers also took the stage during the keynote to show off new technologies arriving for the platform.

The new iPhone 3G, which, as its name implies, incorporates 3G networking technology (with continued support for WiFi and EDGE), is being touted by Apple as "twice as fast at half the price." The 8 GB model's price has dropped to $199, $299 for the 16 GB model. At the same time, the mobile device adopts a range of new enterprise- and consumer-focused features. These include:

  • iPhone 2.0 software, with support for Microsoft Exchange ActiveSync;
  • Support for applications developed on the iPhone SDK;
  • GPS technology with real-time mapping;
  • Contact searching;
  • A new scientific calculator;
  • Parental controls;
  • Minor hardware redesigns; and
  • The ability to save mail images and transfer them to a photo library.

It also includes support for the new MobileMe Internet service (a replacement for the .Mac online service), which provides push support for applications like IM and e-mail. MobileMe is expected to run $99 per year when it launches, and a free trial will be available. It includes 20 GB of storage. A "family pack" runs $149 and includes 20 GB storage for the primary account and 5 GB storage each for up to four family members.

"Think of MobileMe as 'Exchange for the rest of us,'" Jobs said in a statement released today. "Now users who are not part of an enterprise that runs Exchange can get the same push email, push calendars and push contacts that the big guys get."

Apple said that in addition to launching the iPhone 3G in 22 countries July 11, the iPhone 3G will be available in "more than 70 countries later this year." In the United States, AT&T will continue to be the iPhone's carrier.

For users of the first-generation iPhone, the iPhone 2.0 software will be available as a free update via iTunes July 11.

Platform Development
As far as development for the iPhone platform goes, Apple Monday announced that downloads of its iPhone Software Development Kit have topped the 250,000 mark since the SDK's launch in early March. The SDK includes APIs and tools for creating iPhone-native applications.

During the keynote address at WWDC, several developers took the stage to show off new and upcoming applications designed for the iPhone, ranging from adventure and arcade-style games to medical imaging software.

Macworld has an excellent blow by blow roundup of the keynote address, including images of new applications for the iPhone. This coverage can be found here.

About the Author

David Nagel is editorial director of 1105 Media's Education Technology Group and editor-in-chief of THE Journal and STEAM Universe. A 29-year publishing veteran, Nagel has led or contributed to dozens of technology, art and business publications.

He can be reached at [email protected]. You can also connect with him on LinkedIn at or follow him on Twitter at @THEDavidNagel (K-12) or @CampusTechDave (higher education).

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