UPDATE: Sorry about the chopping and changing this morning on the dates – there was a bit of confusion from Apple Australia regarding the relase dates of the iPhone 3GS and the iPhone 3.0 software. It’s definitely 26 June for the phone, 18 June for the software update.

Apple today introduced the new iPhone 3GS, the fastest, most powerful iPhone yet – up to twice as fast as iPhone 3G, with longer battery life, a high-quality 3 megapixel autofocus camera, easy-to-use video recording and hands-free voice control.

iPhone 3GS includes the new iPhone OS 3.0, the world’s most advanced mobile operating system with over 100 new features such as Cut, Copy and Paste, MMS, Spotlight Search, landscape keyboard and more. iPhone 3G S customers get access to more than 50,000 applications from Apple’s revolutionary App Store, the largest application store in the world where customers have already downloaded over one billion apps. iPhone 3GS offers twice the capacity with a 16GB model and a new 32GB model.

iPhone 3GS offers improved speed and performance, on average up to twice as fast as iPhone 3G, so you can render web pages quicker and launch applications faster. The new phone takes advantage of the OpenGL ES 2.0 standard for high-quality 3D graphics, making mobile gaming and other graphic intense applications better than ever. It is not only faster, but with longer battery life you can watch more videos, listen to more music, browse the internet or keep using your favourite apps even longer.

HSDPA – yes. Next G – not sure.

The new iPhone 3GS also supports 7.2 Mbps HSDPA for faster networking speeds. At the time of writing there is no confirmation of the iPhone 3G S being compatible with the full capability of Telstra Next G service – that is the full, or potential, speed of 21Mbps.

Photo and video capabilities

iPhone 3GS features a new 3 megapixel autofocus camera that takes amazing pictures and video, making it easier than ever to capture, edit and share those moments instantly with family and friends. The new autofocus camera adjusts focus, exposure, colour and contrast for the best possible image and includes an automatic macro focus for extra close up shots.

With the new “tap to focus” feature, you simply touch the display to select an object or area of interest and the camera automatically re-adjusts focus and exposure. You can record incredible high-quality video clips and edit them right on your iPhone 3GS by simply trimming the start and stop points. With iPhone 3GS you can send photos and video by email or MMS and post them to MobileMe or YouTube with just one tap.

Voice control

The voice control feature in iPhone 3GS offers hands free operation for both iPhone and iPod functions. Simply speak the appropriate commands into the built-in microphone or headset microphone to dial by name or number. With voice control you can play your favourite music by artist, album or playlist and activate the Genius feature by saying, “Play more songs like this.” You can also tell iPhone to pause the music, play the next track, turn on shuffle or ask, “What’s playing right now?”

GPS

iPhone 3GS features a new built-in digital compass for instant navigation. The Compass app shows you which way you are headed and rotates as you change direction. You can orient yourself to true north or magnetic north, and iPhone’s built-in GPS automatically displays the coordinates of your current location. The new built-in digital compass is also integrated within Maps, so it automatically orients any map to the direction you are facing.

Apple iPhone 3G S

Enhancements for the visually and aurally impaired

iPhone 3G S provides new accessibility features including VoiceOver, a screen reader that speaks what appears on the iPhone 3GS display, enabling visually impaired users to make calls, read email, browse web pages, play music and run applications. The new universal Zoom function magnifies the entire screen, and the White on Black feature reverses the colours on screen to provide higher contrast for people with low vision. iPhone 3GS also supports Mono Audio which combines left and right audio channels so that they can be heard in both earbuds for those with hearing loss in one ear.

Internet tethering

While the Apple site trumpets internet tethering – the ability to connect a phone to a computer and use as a modem – as one of the new features, there is an important little footnote: “Tethering is not currently offered in the U.S. and some other countries. See your carrier for availability.” So it’s a wait and see what your local telco does with this capability.

Apple Australia advise that in Australia at launch only Optus and Vodafone will offer internet tethering via the iPhone 3GS.