iPhone 4S, Siri, iMessaging, iOS 5 & iCloud launched by Apple with Tim Cook taking centre stage for the first time.
No iPhone 5 but instead an upgraded version of the iPhone 4, logically called the iPhone 4s (super? sensational? sanitised? sucks? make your own mind up).
iPhone 4S or iPhone 4, what is the difference?
Well the iPhone 4S comes with a some upgraded features including the dual-core A5 chip seen in other recent Apple products, a new camera which allows for full 1080p HD recording and a so-called intelligent assistant called Siri.
The iPhone 4S includes an 8 megapixel camera with a custom built lens allowing for a larger f/2.4 aperture opening. Both these features will mean much sharper images and should provide a noticeable improvement in quality over the iPhone 4.
The iPhone 4S is also able to record in full 1080p high definition and with built in image stabilization, your videos should also be watchable.
The new A5 dual core chip will mean apps and software will perform much faster, no more missing that photo moment while waiting for the camera software to start up.
Graphics will also be massively improved as we saw when the chip was introduced on the iPad 2. Apple say graphics run 7 times faster than on the standard iPhone 4.
It is also worth noting that the hiccup of the original iPhone 4 launch, the antenna, has once again been looked at. Apple claim that the dual antenna design now allows much faster download speeds as it uses intelligent switching for sending and receiving voice and data.
Siri Voice Control
Siri allows you to speak into the iPhone 4S and either get an answer back or an action accomplished. It also allows effective dictation ala ‘dragon speaking’ which is a welcome addition to the feature set for many people.
Siri will also, cleverly, understand context. So if you ask “Will I need an umbrella this weekend?”, it understands that you want to know the weather forecast for the weekend.
It’s a pretty clever addition for the iPhone 4S and not limited to any particular function. You can for example, tell Siri to remind you to call Dad when you get home. Siri will then look up Dad’s number in your address book, schedule a reminder and monitor your location for the right time to remind you.
You can use Siri for all iPhone 4S functions, making calls, getting directions, making appointments or meetings, email, internet browsing, calculations etc.
In my eyes, Siri appears to be a giant leap forward for how we interact with our devices. Although sadly it appears that the processing power needed for Siri means it is available on the iPhone 4S only.
iOS 5 with iMessage
Launched at the same time as the iPhone 4S is the latest version of the iPhone operating system called iOS 5. Claiming over 200 new features including the new iMessaging service and notification centre.
iOS 5 now has better integration with services such as twitter so you can share instantly a message or photo.
The new iMessage function allows for grouping of contacts, so sending items such as photos to certain people and not others becomes easy.
iCloud was touted a while back but with the launch of the iPhone 4S it really comes to the fore and should be considered it’s official unveiling.
It’s a free service for iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch and Mac users that allows the storage and synchronisation of all your content across all your devices. This could be any content such as music or documents.
You can for instance, set up photo streaming. This means that you take a picture on you iPhone 4S and it instantly gets sent to the iCloud and then synchronised to your home computer.
iPhone 4S Summary
There has been alot of criticism in the media about the iPhone 4S launch and it appears that the main reason is that everyone was expecting a whole new redesigned iPhone 5.
While it is true that it is a little disappointing that the iPhone 4S is not the iPhone 5, if you are in the market for a new phone the it is still one of the very best. Perhaps if the iPhone 4S just had a new screen and new case, they could have called it the iPhone 5.
The speed improvements, full HD recording, image stabilization, Siri and all the other software updates really do make a difference and are just enough to keep the iPhone 4S ahead of the pack.
Personally I think it is easy to underestimate the importance of Siri.
For me it is the future of how we interact with our devices. We see in science fiction movies all the time the idea of devices that understand any voice command in the same way as a human. No more pre-programmed, rigid commands and voice training your device. Instead just a natural use of language.
If you already have an iPhone 4 there is more incentive to wait for the iPhone 5, it is debatable whether an upgrade to the iPhone 4S is worth it. If you can get a great trade in price for your old model then I would go for it, otherwise I would wait.
Introducing the iPhone 4S (Video by Apple)
Waiting for the iPhone 5?
p.s. Developing apps for the iphone is getting more popular, see here if you would like to find out how to make an app.