June 8, 2009 -- Apple Inc. today announced a new, faster version of the iPhone, called the iPhone 3GS.
The "S", said the company, stands for Speed -- the new phone will load a Web page three times faster than its predecessors.
It can also shoot video, Apple said. It's a feature critics have said was sorely missing from existing models.
The 3GS can take voice commands, has a more powerful battery, and a starting price of $199 for a version with 16 gigabytes of memory.
There will be a 32 gigabyte version for $299. The new phones will begin to go on sale June 19.
The existing iPhone 3G will remain on the market, with a reduced price of $99, Apple said.
The company also announced 100 free new features for the iPhone's operating software, including the ability to make the easily-lost phone theft-proof.
Apple said if you misplace an iPhone, you can go to your computer and order it to send out an audible signal so it can be found. If it appears to have been stolen or lost for good, you can remotely order it to wipe its memory clean of all your personal data.
Apple said it will now be possible for iPhone owners to download movies without a computer; and to cut, copy and edit material from one iPhone application to another. And it showed off an application that allows you to reserve a ZipCar -- a car-sharing service in many major cities -- find the car with the phone's help, and unlock it, using the iPhone as a virtual key.
New 'Green' MacBooks
Apple also showed off a new series of faster, cheaper -- and more energy-efficient -- versions of its MacBook laptop computers, including one that can run for seven hours on a single battery charge.
The new MacBooks, with screens measuring 13, 15 and 17 inches, and with prices ranging from $1,199 to $2,499, were described by the company as "the world's greenest line of laptops."
They, and other new Apple computers, will have a new, upgraded operating system called Snow Leopard. The firm said the new system will take up 6 gigabytes less space on a computer's hard drive than its predecessor. Along with it will come a new version of Safari, Apple's Web browser -- which the company, making a dig at its competitor Microsoft, said will be 7.8 times faster at running various pages than Microsoft's Internet Explorer 8.
There were also new versions of the popular QuickTime video program, and a new e-mail program.
Those were some highlights of Apple's annual Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) for software people in San Francisco, an event at which the company often rolls out new products.
The announcements came at the same time as word that Steve Jobs, the inventive, mystical Apple CEO and the man behind the iPhone, iPod, iTunes, Mac computers and many other high-tech success stories, is on the mend after a mystery illness.
Jobs did not appear on stage at the conference today; he had not been expected. Phil Schiller, Apple's marketing chief, hosted the product announcements.
Jobs, 54, has been on medical leave from his post as Apple's chief executive since the beginning of the year, forced by what was only described as a nutritional problem related to a hormone imbalance.
Industry insiders, who asked not to be quoted by name, said the illness may have been quite serious, depriving his body of the ability to digest protein properly. But, they said, he received the necessary help to overcome it.
"We look forward to Steve returning to Apple at the end of June," Apple spokesman Steve Dowling said, repeating a statement the company has used before.
Jobs, described as "a strict vegetarian, very much into Eastern mysticism," is said by two sources to have turned to alternative medicine to treat his health problems. "He believes anything can be treated naturally," one of the sources said, asking not to be named.
Jobs' Health and Apple's Health
Jobs has been private about medical matters, including a case of pancreatic cancer that was successfully treated with surgery in 2004. Members of Apple's board of directors, sources said, persuaded him that his health was "a fiduciary issue," interwoven with the health of the company.
He was listed last year as 189th on the Forbes list of the world's billionaires, with a net worth of about $5.7 billion. After selling Pixar animation studios to The Walt Disney Company in 2006, he became a Disney board member and the company's largest shareholder. Disney is the parent company of ABCNews.com.
Analysts said Apple has done fine in Jobs' absence, partly because he has been available for big decisions, and partly because he has delegated day-to-day decisions for about five years.
Apple Inc., stock, which dropped to $78.20 a share in January after he announced he was going on leave, has since climbed to above $140 a share. It was down less than one percent today.
ABC's Laura Marquez and Steven Cheng contributed reporting for this story from San Francisco.