Six new facts about the iPhone

The iPhone dominated the news this week after two events provided new and rare details about the most hotly anticipated tech product since the original Macintosh computer in 1984.

Press coverage is running at a fever pitch in advance of the iPhone's June 29 launch. Search for "iPhone" on Google News, and you'll get 7,653 recent stories. On Google itself, the query brings up some 73 million hits.

Last Friday, an "iPhone Sales Training Workbook" for AT&T Wireless employees was leaked to the press through the MacRumors forum, revealing some details about the device. And Apple Inc. CEO Steve Jobs revealed a few more facts during his Worldwide Developers Conference keynote Monday.

Despite all the coverage, it's hard to separate opinion from the facts, the new details from the old. So here are the six new facts we learned this week about the Apple iPhone.

1. The iPhone is a communications mixed bag, with support for IMAP, POP3 and Yahoo Push e-mail. It will automatically recognize phone numbers in e-mail messages and provide one-click access to dialing them. However, it will not support Multimedia Messaging Service (MMS), so users won't be able to send text messages with pictures or video to other cell phone users. The iPhone will not let users "chat" with friends directly via instant messaging (IM).

2. When you're watching a video on the iPhone and a call comes in, the video will automatically pause while you take the call, then resume when you hang up.

3. The iPhone does not offer Global Positioning System capability.

4. Third-party applications will be allowed only as Web-based applications loaded from the Internet on the iPhone's Safari Web browser. Apple will roll out a Windows version of Safari, which should drive support, application development and awareness of the browser to improve the Safari-centric iPhone experience, especially for Windows users.

5. In order to use an iPhone, buyers will be required to first set up an account with the iTunes store using their credit cards, even if they have no intention of buying anything there. This is in addition to the required carrier contract with AT&T. Current iTunes account holders will be able to use existing accounts.

6. We already knew that iTunes would provide sync capability between iPhone and e-mail, contacts, calendar, photos and other data on both PCs and Macs. We learned this week that the synchronization is automatic when the iPhone is plugged in.

SD Card gives regular digital camera Wi-Fi

A start-up called Eye-Fi announced plans to release a $100 Secure Digital (SD) memory card with a built-in Wi-Fi chip that would allow regular digital cameras to connect via Wi-Fi to home networks for transferring pictures to PCs.

Skype phone records conversations

A new, US$45 Skype-supporting voice-over-IP phone called the Ipevo Free.2 does all the things a regular Internet phone does, plus one additional neat trick: With the press of a button, it will record to an MP3 file on your computer.

The phone supports both PCs and Macs, and it records to other formats beyond MP3.

The Ipevo Free.2 notifies the people you're talking to when the call is being recorded. If it's a Skype-to-Skype call, it will display a note on the other person's screen. Skype-to-regular-phone calls get occasional "beeps" when the recording function is on.

Google cancels party that offended eBay

Google Inc. canceled a party designed to attract eBay PayPal users and lure them to Google's competing Google's Checkout online payment service. The party was scheduled to take place in Boston during the eBay Live conference there.

Mike Elgan writes about technology and global tech culture. Contact him at mike.elgan@elgan.com or his blog, The Raw Feed.

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