06 October 2011
The New Apple iPhone 4S Released
iPhone 4S arrives to lukewarm reception
Karl Doody, managing director of web & mobile developer 27stars, looks at the launch of the iPhone 4S and iOS 5, and how the world has reacted.
Apple launches are big events in every sense - not only was there a mass of speculation for months beforehand, there was also a media scrum as new CEO Tim Cook's took his place as MC for the first time at 'Let's talk iPhone' in California on Wednesday night.
As the media and live bloggers waited in vain for big news on the iPhone 5 - its absence initially costing Apple a 5% dip in its share price - the anticipation soon turned to disappointment, and now Apple is facing headlines which largely focus on what might have been.
However, there were a number of interesting announcements for both hardware and software enthusiasts, even if most had been extensively previewed and accurately predicted in rumour.
What Tim Cook and his team did talk about was the new 4S and iOS 5, which both pack a lot more power than their predecessors, and it's what's on the inside which Apple is clearly counting on - the 4S is virtually identical in design to the 4.
So, while new 4S owners won't be able to show off any stunning new looks, inside the 4S is completely new, with a more powerful dual core processor which delivers a significant performance gains for general use - up to twice as fast as the 4. That's something which will also be a hit with gamers, and Apple spent some time demonstrating dual core-powered graphics for new games including Infinity Blade 2, which is due for release in December.
Apple has also tried to address the wireless connectivity issues which attracted a lot of criticism for the iPhone 4, with a novel dual antenna system should provide a more reliable connection in most conditions. Wi-Fi access is also given a boost, with download speeds increased to a maximum of 14.4 mbps.
They also pitched the 4S as the first 'World Phone', thanks to its integration of both the GSM and CDMA systems into the one device.
The 4S sports a new 8 megapixel camera offers 60% better resolution than before, and with new optics captures much more light. They've also managed to reduce that frustrating delay between pressing the shoot button, and the phone actually taking a picture. Users can also enjoy 1080 HD video capture with new image stabilisation.
Siri debuts as new breed of intelligent app
On the software front, the new iOS 5 operating system is released on October 12th and is just as relevant for owners of older iPhone models as for anyone looking at the 4S. Most notable is Apple's obvious interest in pushing Voice Recognition as a major phone feature for the future. The 'Siri' app is touted as a virtual assistant, responding to user voice commands in a much more intelligent way than we've seen from any phone to date. It looks impressive.
You can ask Siri (being released in Beta) to perform all kinds of tasks, for instance - literally asking your phone for directions will result in it displaying a map of where you need to go, so there's no more need to type. You can also check your diary, ask for reminders and perform a whole array of tasks by simply asking Siri, who responds in kind by talking to you - ask your phone "What are my appointments at midday on Friday?" and it will check and reply along the lines of "You have no appointments on Friday" if that happens to be the case.
Apple's heavily previewed iCloud service also arrives with iOS 5, so any content you buy is automatically shared across all your compatible devices, and there's also a re-vamped messaging setup, along with a new cards app.
The 4S should also appeal to those with an interest in business apps - not only will Siri offer huge scope for development, but there also a new 'Find my Friends' location-based app, which will appeal to business users and developers alike. Add that to the improved all-round connectivity and Apple are likely to gain in the business market.
So, despite that general sense of anti-climax - and that's pretty much all down to the rumours about the launch of the iPhone 5 being wrong - Apple is almost certain to shift millions more iPhone units via the 4S from October 14th, although there were no early details of UK pricing. It also gives the iPhone 5 rumour mill a totally new lease of life until Apple returns for its next event in 2012.
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