MELISSA BLOCK, host:
From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Melissa Block.
MICHELE NORRIS, host:
And I'm Michele Norris. In San Francisco today, Apple fans rejoiced. Apple CEO Steve Jobs announced the next generation iPhone before a gathering of over 5,000 software developers. The new version due in stores July 11th runs on a so-called 3G network. That's short for third generation. The 2.0 iPhone costs less than its predecessor, and it's got several fancy new features. Omar Gallaga covers technology culture for The Austin American-Statesman. He says most importantly, the new version improves the snail-like Web access that many considered the iPhone's biggest flaw.
Mr. OMAR GALLAGA (Austin American-Statesman): Well, the name of the game for the iPhone 3G is speed. Steve Jobs says the phone will be 2.8 times faster than what we're used to seeing on the iPhone's EDGE network, which runs on AT&T. So AT&T...
NORRIS: Now, for civilians, 2. - what doest that mean? How fast is that?
Mr. GALLAGA: Well, the EDGE network, you would think would be kind of like fast dial up, and that the 3G is going to be closer to WiFi speeds.
NORRIS: Why did Apple have to do this?
Mr. GALLAGA: Well, one of the biggest complaints about the iPhone was that the EDGE network, was that AT&T's network for data was just not fast enough for the things that the iPhone could do, things like sending photos, doing any kind of video on the iPhone. It just wasn't fast enough unless you were in a WiFi zone.
NORRIS: Now we mentioned that there's also a price drop. How much of a price drop?
Mr. GALLAGA: Yes, that's actually the other big news, is that when the original iPhone was introduced, it was two models: a 499 and a 599 version. Now the iPhone 3G will be priced at $199 and $299. So that's a huge, huge price difference than when it was first rolled out just a year ago.
NORRIS: Are there new features?
Mr. GALLAGA: Other new features, apart from the speed, it will have GPS built in. Previously, the iPhone used triangulation and cell phone towers to kind of sort of figure out where you were. It wasn't completely accurate. Now it will have an actual GPS chip enabled that will be able to track using Google Maps. And the iPhone will be thinner. And Steve Jobs swears it will sound better than the previous iPhone.
NORRIS: Now Apple, I imagine, is trying to stay a step ahead of the competitors that are rolling out their own smart phones. Are they actually nipping at the heels here? Are these other smart phones just as inventive and easy to use as the iPhone?
Mr. GALLAGA: I don't think anyone's come out with something that has the software that's as elegant as the iPhone, just based on the reviews that I've read and products that I've tried. But there are some phones that have features that the iPhone doesn't. The Nokia M95, which is becoming a very popular smart phone among the technorati, that has - you can do live streaming video on it. Some people prefer a phone that has a full keyboard on it, and that's something that a lot of people just can't get over with the iPhone, they can't quite master the iPhone touch screen keyboard. So, yeah. There are some other phones that are nipping on their heels, and BlackBerry is doing very, very well. So, yeah. Definitely, Apple really has to work hard to stay ahead of the pack. There's a lot of smart phones that are happy to tack its place at half the price.
NORRIS: So a new announcement today from Steve Jobs. Are we expecting any other cell phone announcements? They all seem to come in clusters.
Mr. GALLAGA: I would imagine that we'll start seeing more stuff from Research in Motion with BlackBerry that Nokia definitely will not resting on its laurels. And the big one that everybody's waiting for is for Google's Android platform to start hitting stores. The latter half of this year, we should start seeing the first phones based on Google's application platform, and that could be really huge competitor to the iPhone. We just don't know. We haven't seen any actual handsets yet in the marketplace. So, the latter half of this year's going to be very competitive in the cell phone market.
NORRIS: The Android platform. That sounds like a horror movie, almost.
Mr. GALLAGA: Yeah. The Androids are taking over, and they'll be fighting the Apple robots.
NORRIS: Omar, always good to talk to you.
Mr. GALLAGA: Thank you, Michele.
NORRIS: That was Omar Gallaga. He covers technology for The Austin-American Statesman. He talks to us about the same from time to time. Thank so much.
Mr. GALLAGA: Thank you very much.