Apple adds video calls to iPhone

Apple is taking a stab at video calling with the newest iteration of its smartphone, the iPhone 4.

Apple is taking a stab at video calling with the newest iteration of its smartphone, the iPhone 4.

The new iPhone 4 will be able to make "Face Time" video calls to other iPhone 4 users through two cameras mounted on either side of the device, chief executive Steve Jobs said during a developers conference in San Francisco on Monday.

The feature will only be available over a Wi-Fi internet connection this year, while the company works with wireless carriers to make it run over 3G networks, he added.

"We're really happy with this," he said. "This is one of the moments that reminds us of why we do what we do."

Video calling has been tried by a number of phone manufacturers and wireless carriers around the world, including Rogers in 2007, but most efforts were abandoned after meeting with lukewarm reception from consumers.

The new iPhone is also 24 per cent thinner than its predecessor, the iPhone 3GS, and features a sharper display and better battery life, Jobs said. The updated device will also house a gyroscope which, when combined with its accelerometer, will give it six-axis motion sensing, much like a video game controller.

It will also have a better camera, with five megapixels, and will be able to shoot high-definition video. The device will also correct one of the iPhone's main criticisms — that it isn't able to multitask. The iPhone 4 will be able to run multiple apps at the same time, so users won't have to close one to open another.

Canada release in July

The device will be available in five countries, not including Canada, as of June 24, and will ship to 18 more in July. Canada will get the new device in late July, the company said in a release.

During his presentation, Jobs also took aim at people who have criticized Apple for its seemingly arbitrary attitude toward accepting and rejecting apps for its app store. He said Apple receives about 15,000 apps a week and 95 per cent are approved within seven days. A small portion get rejected because they don't do what the developer said they would, they use non-Apple programming tools or they crash.

Jobs said that, according to polling company Nielsen, Apple is second in U.S. smartphone market share with 28 per cent, following leader Research In Motion, which has 35 per cent. Microsoft is third with 19 per cent, followed by Google's Android at nine per cent.

Apple's iBooks store will also be available on the iPhone 4. The store has sold five million e-books in its first 65 days since it introduced them for the larger-format iPad, accounting for 22 per cent of the market.

Apple will be adding new e-book functionality to the iPad in the next month, such as the ability to read PDF files and create notes within books, he said.