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Apple iPhone 4S launch: the details

Apple talks iPhones, iOS and iPods

Apple today held an iPhone event, at which it announced a new iPhone - the iPhone 4S, an October 12 launch for iOS 5, plus a new iPod nano and a new iPod touch. Here are the details. 

iPhone event: new iPhone announced

Apple CEO Tim Cook started his iPhone presentation by saying Apple's iconic smartphone had 5 percent of global market share in the mobile phone market - a market that ships 1.5 billion handsets each year.

And then... Apple announced a new iPhone. The Apple iPhone 4S carries the same shape as the current Apple iPhone 4, with a retina display. It has a faster, dual-core A5 processor that Apple says is twice as fast at CPU tasks as the iPhone 4. The phone has dual-core graphics, that Apple claims is up to seven times faster than the previous iPhone.

Despite these claims, Apple also said that the new iPhone has much longer battery life that its predecessor, with a claimed eight hours of talk time, and 10 hours of video. The phone will be able to work on networks throughout the world, being both CDMA and GSM enabled - a big bonus for UK users travelling to the US, for example. Apple was also keen to stress that its antennae are a big improvement on the oft criticised iPhone 4.

The iPhone 4S sports an 8Mp camera, with a f2.4 aperture for improved low-light photography. The camera will offer 1080p video recording, with real-time video image stabilization and realtime noise reduction. Apple claims the iPhone 4S phone does face detection, takes only 1.1 seconds to take the first photo, 0.5 seconds for subsequent shots, as well as better low-light performance and white balance.

The iPhone 4S has voice-control technology called 'Siri'. Although still in beta, with Siri, you ask your device a question ('wake me up at 6am', or 'what's the weather like in Woking') and it fulfils the necessary functions: in the case of our examples, setting the alarm for 6 o'clock, or booting the weather app and finding the information required. It is partnered with Yelp to find restaurants and shops etc. Siri also reads out notifications and messages.

According to Apple, Siri links to sites such as Wikipedia and Wolfram Alpha, as well as lots of apps, in an intelligent way to understand relationships, preferences and contacts, and provide real-time, intelligent information and interactivity.

In essence, Siri replaces the keyboard in all iPhone applications. It is integrated with reminders, maps, calendar, email, messages, weather, stocks, clock and contacts. You can compose and send an email direct from Siri, Apple says.

Siri will be available immediately, albeit in beta, and works in English, French and German over 3G and Wi-Fi. It is hardware dependent, and so is available only the iPhone 4S.

The iPhone 4S will cost the same as the iPhone 4, and comes in the same sizes with an additional 64GB model. It will be available in the UK and the US on October 14, and the rest of the world by October 28.

See also:

iPhone event: iOS 5

He then recapped some of the previously announced updates included in the upcoming iOS 5 operating system, and revealed that iOS 5 will be available on October 12.  To recap: iOS includes unified messaging app iMessage, location-based reminders, Twitter integration, a feature called Newsstand that lets download subscription newspapers on the fly, camera enhancements, onboard photo editing, Reader for Safari, a much-improved Mail app, and the ability to use your iOS device out of the box without synching with a PC.

Apple's Eddy Cue talked up the much-vaunted iCloud system, which allows users to wirelessly synch music and video between various devices - albeit with some caveats for UK users. Apple also talked up iTunes Match - the way in which people who own music in various places and formats can pay a fee to own versions of the same songs in the cloud, synched to all their devices. iTunes Match will be available globally by the end of the year.

A new app was announced: Find my Friends. Similar in approact to Google Latitude, this allows you to track the location of friends and family.

iPhone event: iPod announcements

Apple made two iPod updates at the event, announcing a new iPod nano, and a new iPod touch.

The new iPod nano comes with various clock faces and is available today costing $129 in the States for an 8GB, and $169 for the 16GB device.

The new iPod touch will run iOS 5 and the Apple iCloud - meaning it will have iMessage, making it an attractive device for youngsters. It now comes in white or black and will cost $199 for an 8GB version, $299 for 32GB, and for the 64GB flavour, $399. The iPod touch is due out on October 12. We'll get UK prices just as soon as they are announced.

Speaking in the same building in which the original iPod was launched, new CEO Tim Cook said: "This is my first product launch since being made CEO.

"It is a pleasure to host you today. I consider it the privilege of a lifetime to have worked here [at Apple] almost 14 years."

Cook opened his presentation by talking about the new Apple Stores the company's consumer arm has opened in China. These include the Store in Nanjing, which is the largest in Asia and - according to Cook - had 100,000 visitors on the opening weekend, and an Apple Store in Hong Kong airport.

Cook also spoke about OS X 10.7 Lion, saying the Apple OS had been downloaded 6 million times, and boasted about the succes of Mac hardware, saying that the iMac and Macbook are the best-selling notebook and desktop PCs, in the US. He also claimed that Apple has now sold more than 300 million iPods.

Cook said that since iTunes started in April 2003, it has built up a musical arsenal of 30 million songs, and that 16 billion songs had been downloaded. "It's mind-boggling. And that's our music business, we're very happy with our music business," he said.

Speaking about the Apple iPad, Cook spoke about the many different professions and industries that are using Apple's tablet, before claiming the three out of every four tablets sold in the US are iPads, and that Apple has sold more than a quarter of a billion iOS devices. 

Scott Forstall, head of iOS for Apple, joined Cook on stage to say: "there are now 500,000 apps on the App Store. 140,000 of these developed specifically for the iPad."

He said that there have been 18 billion downloads from the app store, and apps are now being downloaded at a rate of 1 billion per month. 


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