The so-called genius phone just got an IQ upgrade.
Few of the technorati were surprised on Monday when Apple [NASDAQ: AAPL] unveiled the second iteration of the iPhone, which sports a precious few, but significant, improvements. The biggest is apparent in the name of the new device, which Apple has dubbed iPhone 3G: faster network speeds should give the iPhone about twice as much speed when completing internet-intensive tasks like browsing and emailing. The iPhone 3G also sports a new, thinner bezel and an all-plastic enclosure that comes in either black or white. Why all plastic? The current iPhone's metal body would interfere with GPS hardware inside the 3G version, which, coupled with data from cellular towers and WiFi networks, should give the iPhone geo-location precision better than most phones. Perhaps the best part of today's announcement: the new iPhone will go for only $199 in its 8GB version, and $299 in its 16GB version, and have better battery life to boot.
Before introducing the new iPhone, Steve Jobs gave an extensive keynote speech in which he discussed the impressive progress of developers building and porting applications to the device. He also demo'd a new, re-branded version of .Mac, which will go by the name of MobileMe from here on out, and offer an array of wirelessly-synced push applications like calendar, mail, instant messaging and photo galleries. Because the applications feature instant synchonicity, there will be no need to sync two Macs (or an iPhone) using a wired connection while MobileMe is activated, so long as all devices have access to the internet; any change to a calendar, email, or other MobileMe program will be live on the users other devices in around 12 seconds. Like .Mac, MobileMe will cost $99 per year, and will be available with a handy (and much-improved) Web-based interface for use on the go.