iPhone Hype About to Hit Fever Pitch

Unless you've just come out of a coma, you probably know that the iPhone 3G goes on sale in the U.S. starting tomorrow at 8 a.m. There has been plenty of coverage, banter, speculation, criticism, and praise about the second coming iteration of the iPhone, as a can be evidenced by a Google search for iPhone 3G, which garnered 93,600,000 results when we first searched for it. Chances are if you run the same search now, you will see even more results. And we admit it... HotHardware is contributing to the hubbub.

In preparation for tomorrow's iPhone 3G blitzkrieg, Apple has starting rolling out a few pieces of the puzzle a little early. For starters, despite the fact that Apple announced today that "more than 500 native applications will be available on the iPhone’s App Store when Apple’s iPhone 3G goes on sale tomorrow," the App Store is actually live now. In order to access the App Store, you will need to update to the latest version of iTunes (version 7.7) and then enable the Applications checkbox in the General tab in iTunes' Preferences.

At which point, if you navigate within iTunes to the App Store, you'll see something that looks like this:

You'll also notice that there are plenty of free apps available for download:

But just keep in mind that no matter how many apps you download, you won't be able to actually use any of them until you update your iPhone or iPod Touch to the version 2.0 firmware.

So you are out of luck until tomorrow when the version 2.0 firmware will be made available, right? Not exactly... Arnold Kim at MacRumors.com discovered that a late beta version of the new iPhone firmware can be downloaded and installed manually. Kim wisely advises anyone choosing to install the beta firmware "should proceed with caution," and he also says this firmware is not for the iPod Touch. Kim also noticed this guide on Apple's site about how to update iPhones and iPod Touches to the new 2.0 firmware:

"You can use iTunes to update or restore iPhone or iPod touch software. Apple recommends updating iPhone or iPod touch to use the latest software. You can also restore the software, which puts iPhone or iPod touch back to its factory condition.

Normally if you choose to update, the iPhone or iPod touch software is updated but your settings and media are not affected. If your device currently has a software version prior to 2.0 (1.x) and you are updating to software version 2.0 or later, all data on your device will be erased in order to perform install the new software. In this case, iTunes will offer to create a one-time media backup of your device depending on what content is on your device and what content is stored in the iTunes Library you are connected to. You should ensure that you have enough free space on your Mac or PC to accommodate a backup that matches the capacity of your iPhone or iPod touch (4 GB, 8 GB, 16 GB, or 32 GB) if you proceed with the this backup.

If you choose to restore, all data is erased from iPhone or iPod touch, including songs, videos, contacts, photos, calendar information, and any other data. All iPhone or iPod touch settings are restored to their factory condition. Whenever you update or restore your iPhone or iPod touch software, Apple highly recommends that you perform a sync prior to the update in order to back up any changes since your last sync. If you have movie rentals on the device, see this document before restoring."

We don't know about you, but the prospect of having all of our data erased--backed up or not--scares the stuffing out of us. For those looking to upgrade your version 1.x iPhones and iPod Touches to version 2.0, we suggest you let other early adopters do it first. Let them be the guinea pigs, and only then proceed once you are certain all the bugs have been worked out and pitfalls exposed.

Another piece of the puzzle that was supposed to go live today is Apple's rebranded .Mac service, MobileMe. MobileMe is supposed to act as a conduit between your iPhone and computer and and act as a Web portal for accessing your contact information, calendar, and e-mail. However, at the time this article posted, the new MobileMe service was still not online.

Apparently, the MobileMe service was up and running at least for a little while earlier this morning, as reported by Engadget reporter Thomas Ricker. The site was up long enough for Ricker to take this screenshot:

There are probably other pieces of the iPhone 3G puzzle that we overlooked or will be developing as the day progresses. The next day or so will be iPhone craziness. In fact, in the time it took to write this article, another 100,000 iPhone 3G articles had been found by Google.

Tags:  iPhone, Phone, ITC, One, Pi, IP