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What Steve Jobs Has Planned for Today's iPhone Unveiling

How do you get the kids excited for Christmas morning when they already know what’s under the tree? Just make sure there are a hell of a lot of presents.

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How do you get the kids excited for Christmas morning when they already know what’s under the tree?

Just make sure there are a hell of a lot of presents.

When Apple CEO Steve Jobs takes the stage at the company’s annual conference for developers in San Francisco today, the audience will know most of what he says in advance. This is the usually the event at which Jobs finally demos a new model of the iPhone, ending months of speculation in the Apple blogosphere—but multiple secret prototypes of this year’s model have already hit the web. Even if the big reveal is an anticlimax, a huge range of additional announcements is expected as well. Think of it as a Jobs keynote by way of the Powell Doctrine, which calls for nothing less than overwhelming force against an enemy. The iPhone was once the undisputed best smart phone on the market, but Google’s Android phones have caught up—and maybe even taken the lead.

Here’s a rundown of what Jobs is likely to announce:

  • First, the iPhone HD (as the device is expected to be called). The prototype Gizmodo got its hands on was a lifeless brick, so its exact specs remain unknown. All signs point to a better screen (four times the resolution, hence the “HD” name), better camera, a second camera for video calls, and—perhaps most important of all—dramatically improved battery life, thanks to a custom Apple chip like the one in the impressively long-lived iPad.
  • The iPhone HD will run a new operating system, which Jobs outlined in April. The biggest new feature here is multitasking—the ability to keep an app running unseen in the background while you work in another app.  What does that mean, exactly? You can listen to music from Pandora while writing an email; receive a Skype call while playing Scrabble; pause a game of Doodle Jump, check your text messages, and return seamlessly to your place in the game.
  • Other changes to the new iPhone OS include an enhanced email client that will make juggling multiple accounts less of a hassle. This should make the iPhone a more plausible device for hardcore business users. There’s also iAd, Apple’s foray into mobile advertising, which is either a boon or a nuisance, depending on your perspective.

What else is Jobs thought to have up his sleeve?

  • Engadget this morning published photos of a “magic trackpad”—a buttonless slab that would bring gesture-based input to desktop Macs. Or maybe it could even be used to control…
  • A new Apple TV. Always described as a “hobby” by Jobs, the Apple TV has been a rare product misfire. A rumored revision of the device will sell for $99, get most of its content over the air, and run a version of the iPhone operating system. This would compete directly with Google TV, announced last month.
  • Another over-the-air media possibility is cloud-based music. Apple purchased the streaming music service Lala in December and shuttered the site on May 31. Theories on this one abound, but the likeliest is that a new version of iTunes could stream your music collection to your device over the air, making Apple competitive with Pandora and the forthcoming “iTunes killer” Spotify. An argument against this announcement, though, is AT&T’s decision last week to end unlimited data plans for smart phones and Apple’s iPad.

WWDC is a wonky affair for Apple coders, so expect news about HTML 5—the latest language for designing web pages with attractive typography, video, and audio—and other volleys in Apple’s war with Adobe Flash.

All the usual sources will be liveblogging Jobs’ keynote, including EngadgetWired, andMacRumors. One site not to check? Gizmodo, whose dependably good liveblog will be hobbled this year because Apple—still smarting from its iPhone prototype scoop—pocket-vetoed their request for credentials. And here at Newsweek.com, technology editor Daniel Lyons will have his thoughts on today’s news shortly after Jobs leaves the stage.

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