Apple's iPhone coming on June 29

Americans will get their hands on the iPhone this month

Apple will launch its iPhone in the U.S. on June 29, it said in TV commercials that began airing on Sunday.

The much-talked-about iPhone combines the features of an iPod music and video player with those of a cellular telephone and will be available through AT&T Wireless Services Inc.

AT&T, which acquired Cingular Wireless, hasn't yet announced details of how it will sell the phones although long lines outside outlets are almost assured if the phone will be offered on a first-come, first-served basis.

Two models will be available. One with 4G-bytes of memory will cost US$499 and a version with double the memory will cost US$599, the companies said previously.

Announcement of the launch date ends a five-month guessing game that began on Jan. 10 when Apple CEO Steve Jobs unveiled the iPhone during his keynote speech at the MacWorld Expo in San Francisco.

During the keynote Jobs touted the iPhone as "revolutionary" and demonstrated its features to an enthralled audience. Chief among them is Multi-Touch, a touchscreen display system that can differentiate and react to simultaneous touches from two fingers. Typically touchpanels cannot handle input at more than one point on the screen.

In addition to the 3.5-inch display, the phone will feature a 2-megapixel camera, headset and audio jacks, and an iPod dock.

The first iPhone model will be quad-band GSM (global system for mobile communications), meaning it should work in almost every major country in the world. Exceptions to this will be Japan and South Korea, where GSM is not used. Data transmission will be supported by Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and EDGE.

Behind the iPhone's slick user interface is Apple's Mac OSX operating system. Apple had previously said that third-party developers wouldn't be able to write applications and load them onto the phone, but speaking last week Jobs said Apple is working on a way to allow developers access to the phone.

Apple has also posted three of the TV commercials on its Web site.

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Martyn Williams

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