The Apple iPhone 4S sure can talk, but will it walk?

4 Oct 2011

The new iPhone 4S will be built on the same chassis as the iPhone 4, so it will not look different. However, it's what is inside that is different - an A5 processor, better antenna, better call quality, better camera and longer battery life

A faster processor, an 8-megapixel camera, and oh yes, a smartphone that talks back to you were the main reveals from the iPhone 4S launch in California; leaving the tech world a little disappointed that expected new form factor iPhone 5 has yet to emerge.

New Apple CEO Tim Cook couldn’t have dreamt of a tougher and more judicial audience – one that had been anticipating an iPhone 5 for months now. But it has to be said he put in a strong performance, revealing that globally some 300m iPods have been sold around the world and that Apple sold 45m iPods between July 2010 and June 2011 and that the iPhone 4 accounted for half of all iPhones sold so far.

He also revealed that sales of Apple’s Mac OS X 10.7 Lion hit 6m copies, some 80pc more than Snow Leopard.

Cook added that every State in the US now has an iPad deployment programme and 92pc of Fortune 500 companies are testing or deploying iPad devices. More than 1,000 schools across the US have a 1:1 programme for iPads.

“iPad is the undisputed No 1 tablet in the world. Three-quarters of all tablets sold are iPads.”

He said the iOS platform is now the No 1 operating system for smartphones with 43pc of the market compared with Android’s 33pc, according to ComScore.

Cook added that more than a quarter of a billion iOS devices have been sold so far and that Apple has paid out US$3bn to developers so far. “More than 1bn apps are being downloaded in a month,” he added.

Reaction to the launch of the iPhone 4S

The live blogs hummed with disappointment, however, as it turned out the new iPhone will be an iPhone 4S. The same chassis, just different inside. But it is what’s inside that counts.

First and foremost, the new iPhone will have an A5 chip, exactly the same as the iPad 2, better antenna and call quality and a longer battery life.

Significantly, it will be termed a ‘world phone’ – insofar as it will be dual band (GSM and CDMA), which is good news for Apple because it will now be able to manufacture a single device worldwide.

The new device will offer eight hours of 3G talk time, six hours of browsing (nine on Wi-Fi), 10 hours of video and more than 40 hours of music.

The iPhone 4S camera will be an 8-megapixel camera – 60pc more pixels than the iPhone 4 – and will have 26pc better white balance and can take faster photos at a rate 33pc faster than the iPhone 4.

The new phone will, as reported earlier, come with Siri – the incredible new voice-recognition system that Apple acquired a year ago for around US$200m.

Apple’s iOS chief Scott Forstall demonstrated how it works by asking the phone about the weather. The phone then replied: “here is the weather for today.”

He also asked the phone to wake him up at 6am and the phone replied: “OK, I’ve set an alarm for 6am tomorrow.”

Apple has also set up a partnership with Yelp that will enable the capabilities of Siri to run deeper. Users can simply ask the iPhone 4S to find them a Greek restaurant in a neighbourhood and it goes and does a search and tells you about them according to their rating.

So when will the iPhone 4S make an appearance? Well, the US will get it from 12 October and the UK from 14 October but we in Ireland will have to wait until 28 October.

iOS 5 is coming on 12 October

Apple revealed the next-generation iOS 5 will be released for free to the world on 12 October.

The new OS will enable some nifty new features on iPhones, such as a camera app that is now accessible from the lock screen. Users can now just double tap the home button on their phone and go directly to the camera app without a password being required.

Users can also auto focus and select exposure on a single point in the frame.

The iOS also features a new text messaging system designed to compete with RIM’s BBM service called iMessage. Messages are sent for free over Wi-Fi and 3G. It will also feature new capabilities, such as reminders that hinge around your GPS location.

Another reveal is that Twitter is going to be deeply integrated into iOS 5.

Forstall revealed that the iOS 5 OS will be PC free, meaning iPhone users no longer have to connect their device to a computer to get the updates, which will be wireless.

The Mail app on the iOS 5 platform will include new formatting tools and users will be able to search the text of an email, as well as subject and address lines.

Apple also revealed it still has faith in the iPod, revealing 16 new iPod Nano watch faces. The Nano will now sell for US$129 for the 8GB version and US$149 for the 16GB version.

Apple also launched a new white iPod Touch. The 8GB iPod Touch will sell for US$199, the 32GB for US$299 and the 64GB for US$399.

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years