October 4, 2011

Apple Announces iPhone4S


Today in Cupertino, CA, Apple held a press conference at its headquarters. The company was expected to announce the much-anticipated iPhone 5. This was also the first public announcement from Apple’s new CEO, Tim Cook.
I logged online, and very quickly realized there was no live broadcast of this announcement. I took to Twitter, where it was confirmed, and I got some recommendations for sites that were live-blogging the news. I am curious why Apple decided not to broadcast this announcement, like Facebook usually does, and I gathered that others felt the same. The live-blogger for the Wall Street Journal made the point that the journalists in attendance were looking down at their computers blogging the whole time instead of up at Tim Cook and the visuals being presented. Friends of mine and myself were juggling between three or more live-blogs to get the latest, up to the second information. GDGT had the best live blogging I experienced, with large photos accompanying every other post that were put up minute-by minute.
Another critique of the announcement was the lengthy review of iOS5, Apple’s latest operating system that was presented and released months ago. I read many tweets commenting on how the audience for this presentation was mostly brand loyalists, who have already known about iOS5 for a while and already knew it inside and out.  However, once the new gadgets were displayed, my interest was restored.
Some of the highlights, other than the new iPhone, were the discussion of the iCloud, which will sync data from all iOS devices and hold music, updates to the iPod nano including a watch face and built-in distance tracking, and some tweaks to the iPod touch. But the real star of the show was the unveiling of the iPhone4S.
While many expected the “iPhone5”, iPhone4S leaves little to be desired. Inside has been revamped, with an A5 chip (same as the iPad2) and “eye melting” graphics. The 4S is a world phone, can download data twice as fast, and has eight hours of talk time.  In addition, call quality is improved with the 4S switching between two antennae to transmit and receive signal.
After the new stats were revealed, it was on to the bells and whistles. The iPhone4S has a much-improved camera that is faster, allowing more light, and has an 8-megapixel sensor. Perhaps the most impressive new feature of the iPhone4S is the Siri voice technology, a start-up that was recently acquired by Apple. With Siri, the “humble personal assistant”, users can operate their iPhones with their voice. The impressive demonstration included Apple developers asking the phone to locate restaurants, set alarms, and send texts and emails, all with their voice. Apple has also teamed up with Wolfram Alpha technology to allow Siri to answer questions such as “what is mitosis”.
Following was a wrap up regarding pricing and release dates (iPhone4S will be available October 14, presale October 7). When it was over, I looked down at my iPhone3S and imagined what it would be like to just say “text Mom and ask her for Salmon recipe”, while still surfing the Internet for the latest reactions to the Apple announcements. It was one of those moments when you realize you are living in the “future”. There were a few critics of the Siri technology that expressed their opinions on Twitter, saying it will be a short-lived trend to talk at your phone. To this, I just keep thinking about how everyone made the transition from talking on the phone to just texting fairly easily, and this simplifies the process even further.  Not to mention that people talk into their phones everyday anyway. Depending on how people use the Siri technology, I expect it to be a welcome innovation.
By Julie Hubbard

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