Steve Jobs was expected to have little new to show about the new iPhone at WWDC 2010 keynote, since a near-final prototype had been “found in a bar” and all discoverable details were published by Gizmodo weeks before the event.
Instead, nothing about the new Retina Display was leaked apart from the fact that the new phone appeared to have a much higher resolution display, something everyone expected anyway.
Leaks only assumed the use of an Apple designed A4 CPU (the same of the iPad) and faster 802.11n WiFi. Additionally, nobody guessed that the stainless steel shell would double as an antenna system for WiFi, Bluetooth, GPS and 3G.
The prototype also could not reveal any details of Apple’s standards-based FaceTime video calling, since the prototype got remotely wiped before any of that could be discovered.
The biggest surprises however have been… the iOS 4 upgrade to be free for everyone — which means the adoption rate will be impressive, and the new built-in gyroscope: a sensor no other smartphone has, and only few have any plans to introduce.
That makes Apple’s gyro introduction, tied to the mega-launch of the new iPhone 4, a big deal in terms of differentiating Apple’s platform. Jobs demonstrated the feature in a 3D Jenga-style game that allowed for an entirely new type of motion feedback.
By being first to incorporate super-precise motion controls in a mobile device for gaming and other uses, making them easily accessible through the common Core Motion API, Apple is making it clear its iOS platform is a serious mobile gaming platform and not anymore just for “causal gamers”. In fact, they took the lead not only over other smartphone platforms: the new iPhone also anticipated Nintendo in the introduction of the sensor in its own mobile console.
The new gyro is also an example of how Apple’s model of keeping control over the hardware and the software of their platform allows faster progress and adoption of the new features. Google won’t be able to move its Android partners to add gyros to all their phones and Microsoft won’t be adding support for such sensors to the first version of Windows Phone 7.