No iPhone 5 This Time; Apple Intros iPhone 4S
There was no "one more thing." The biggest surprise in the first press event headed by Apple's new CEO, Tim Cook, was that the iPhone 5 rumors were just that - rumors.
Instead, Apple announce the iPhone 4S, which will be available to AT&T, Verizon, and Sprint customers. The iPhone 4S will offer a dual-core A5 processor and dual-core graphics, as well as an 8MP camera that's faster and offers stronger white balance. Apple says the 4S will be seven times faster than the iPhone 4. It offers eight hours of talk time, an antenna design that promises better call quality and data downloads at twice the current rate. Other new features include 1080p video recording. AirPlay mirroring (for putting an iPhone game on a bigger screen), and Siri, an impressive intelligent voice recognition feature that turns the iPhone into a personal asssistant.
The iPhone 4S will come in a 64GB configuration (an iPhone first) for $399 with contract. The 32GB version is $299 and the 16GB is $199. The iPhone 4 will have one configuration (8GB for $99) and the 8GB iPhone 3GS (8GB) will be free with contract. The 4S will be available for pre-order starting October 7 and will launch on October 14.
During the address, Scott Forstall, senior vice president of iOS software, gave a look at the upcoming iOS 5, including the iMessage messaging service, Twitter integration, a camera shortcut, and computer-less activation. Most of the information had been previously announced, except for the introduction of Cards ($2.99), a new app for ordering and mailing personalized greeting cards. iOS 5 will be available for download on October 12.
Senior vice president of Internet software and services Eddy Cue recapped the features of the upcoming iCloud, which will also be available October 12. Cue introduced a new feature called Find My Friends, an optional service that lets friends share their location. Sharing can be time-limited and there are parental controls. Senior vice president of worldwide product marketing Phil Schiller took the stage to share improvements to the iPod, including a Mickey Mouse face for the iPod Nano.
During his address, Cook highlighted the company's success with retail stores, the Mac operating system, the iPod, the iTunes Store, and the iPad. Cook projected a confident and positive manner during the keynote. Taking over for the mercurial and visionary Steve Jobs, Cook was certain to be closely watched.
iCloud is more than just Apple's entry into the world of cloud computing; it essentially means Apple is acting as a CDN. But if that function is going to expand to streaming video delivery, it's going to strain the network in ways that Apple's not ready for.