Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Apple unveils its new iPhone: the iPhone 4S, same outside, all new inside; Siri personal assistant software has the reporters oohing and ahhing

In what was a painfully slow and fairly uneventful product roll out event, Apple introduced its newest version of the iPhone. The iPhone 4S, while identical to the Verizon version of the iPhone 4 currently available, will have enough upgrades on the inside to make this a very important update.

The new iPhone 4s will get the A5 processor which will speed up the processing and graphics speeds significantly, allowing for more powerful software solutions such as the Siri personal assistant software (that will not be available to owners of older iPhones).

In fact, it was the Siri demo that ended up blowing away the audience of reporters gathered at the Apple campus in Cupertino. The demo of the beta software made created by the acquisition of Siri last year, along with the integration of Nuance's dictation software, made for an impressive demonstation.

Tim Stevens, who was live blogging for Engadget (which had some serious website issues today) said at the time "This is, seriously, some impressive stuff happening here." He then later tweeted "I knew the Siri Assistant demo would be impressive, but this is amazing."

The new iPhone 4S will be available for preordering on October 7 (this Friday) and will be available on October 14, surely the fastest launch by Apple so far.

For publishers, there was really no big news that came out of this event. With the exception of the Siri demo, all the news concerning iOS 5 was actually old news if you had paid attention to this summer's preview. But now iOS 5 has a launch date, October 12, and developers will be able to get their hands (so to speak) on the Gold Master of the OS immediately.

It is tempting to be a bit disappointed in an event like today's because there appears to be no real new product being launched. But as an iPhone owner since the initial launch I have learned a few things about Apple's upgrades that might be helpful.

The launch of the iPhone 3Gs seemed like a nonevent, as well. But the performance enhancements found inside that model, compared to the iPhone 3G really improved the performance of that phone,.

I think the same will be true for the new iPhone 4S. First, the A5 processor, which is in the iPad 2, will significantly speed up the user experience for those who upgrade. Also, the added processing power will allow for users to use the Siri personal assistant software, as well as mirror their displays using AppleTV. That means your phone can now be a big screen game console, and developers will definitely take advantage of that (and so should developers of media apps).

There are also other invisible upgrades like the camera. Now using an 8 MP sensor from Sony, the camera will take 3264x2448 pictures, and at a faster frequency. When combined with improvements found in iOS 5 there is no question that the iPhone 4s will be most users primary camera choice.

(Apple pointed out in its presentation that the number camera used to upload photos to Flicker is already the iPhone 4.)

Sadly, for many iPhone users, they will find that their old iPhones can not take advantage of some of the new features in iOS 5 - like Siri and mirroring. That often is disappointing, but, of course, builds up the desire to upgrade as soon as they qualify.

So, will the iPhone 4S be a success? Give me a break. That one was determined the day the rumor hit that Sprint would carry the iPhone. Now if you are an AT&T, Verizon or Sprint customer you can buy the iPhone. For T-Mobile or U.S. Cellular customers you are left out - they better offer you a heck of a cheap plan if they want to retain your business.