More features, developer support and platform growth touted at firm's dev conference

Apple shows off new ‘iPhone 3GS’

Apple today announced the latest in its line of iPhones, the iPhone 3GS, a device that runs games and apps much faster, the firm said.

The announcement was made at its official Worldwide Developers Conference.

The device supports OpenGL ES 2.0 3D acceleration, a speedier 3G connection, and sports a new camera with autofocus, plus video recording. It also has an in-built compass.

(But it does not, as some reports say, feature a ‘game-centric’ graphics processor – the original iPhone SDK supported earlier versions of OpenGL ES. As ever, Apple’s latest design is built to encompass a wide variety of potential software-based uses.)

The new units are priced $199 for a 16GB version and $299 for a 32GB storage one; the original 3G unit has been reduced in price to $99 (all prices of course don’t include monthly tarrifs).

But in terms of software and developers, the rest of the proceedings at the iPhone-related parts of the conference keynote were focused on the already-known boom in the app market and how successful the format has been for developers.

Apple also reminded attendees of the various functions of its new 3.0 OS for the format.

According to Engadget, Apple’s Scott Forstall said that 50,000 different apps were now on the App Store and that developers have had a ‘staggering response’ and been "prolific in building and posting apps".

Across the format’s 40m unit sales, there have been over 1 billion apps, he reminded the audience, with over one million SDK downloads.

A special video showed the transformative effect the format has had on consumer tastes and developer interests, with one soundbite claiming: "I was at a baseball game, and they showed a commercial for my app – and I watched a bunch of fans pull out their phones and start downloading the game right there."

"Sometimes I have to stop and say, ‘Whoa, this is a mobile device I’m developing for’ because it feels like a desktop," enthused another.

The next step for iPhone is the 3.0 firmware due next month – Apple said it adds over 100 new features to the device.

Key for games developers were the ability to buy and pay for additional content in game, the peer-to-peer networking for multiplayer – the former is for paid apps only, to be sure the system isn’t abused.

Third-party apps helped show off other new features, including Gameloft’s Asphalt racer and its use of each iPhone’s installed music as in-game audio.

A rep from the firm lickened the title to having ‘console quality’ graphics.

Ngmoco was also on hand to present, showing its Star Defense tower defense title which has launched today.

Apple also claimed that today two thirds of mobile web browsing is done on an iPhone, with rival Android formats claiming nine per cent.

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