Steve Jobs just announced the iPhone 4, with a slew of new features and his usual hyperbole. But let's stay clear of discussing the hyperbole, which Apple fans and foes alike love to argue upon. Just the facts ma'am, and here are some hard ones.
Fact: iPhone 4 is extremely powerful, using the A4 system-on-a-chip that's also in the iPad, even though we don't know if it'll run at the same speed. Nonetheless, it's so powerful that it has literally clearly transformed the smartphone into a multipurpose handheld computer replacement: 720p hi-dev video camera, book reader on a screen with the quality of printed paper, music and video player, games machine, etc...
Fact: iPhone 4 has a front-facing camera. That's nothing new hardware-wise, but this time it comes with software that makes video-calling straightforward. Watch the operators scramble once again to increase their bandwidths.
Fact: iPhoneOS is now officially iOS (not to be confused with Cisco's IOS). It has grown up from its toddler years into adolescence: solid APIs, proven UI paradigms, runs on multiple devices, supports heavy-duty gaming and all manners of application types.
If you now ask why I consider iOS to be an adolescent, and when I'll see it grow to adulthood, my answer is simply the day you'll see Apple computers ship with iOS. It is my firm belief that Apple's iOS is its next-generation operating system across all devices, from laptops to servers and AppleTV. Think about MacBooks with dual screens, the keyboard area being replaced by a second haptic screen. The "laptop" can then be turned sideways into a "book" with two pages when you're running an ebook reader. And of course the MacBook can be sold as-is in every country in the world, no keyboard layout issues. Think about the cost savings.
Incidentally, I only keep my MacBook Pro because I can't yet run XCode to program iOS apps on the iPad. The day XCode runs on the iPad (or the iPhone+screen+bluetooth keyboard), I will never again need my trusty battered OS X 10.6 MacBook Pro.
That, ladies and gentlemen, is the NeXT Step. Soon.
In the meantime, enjoy the music, book, video, mobile phone and gaming revolutions that the wizard Mr. Jobs has thrust upon us in the past decade.