Phew. There you have it, folks. Apple's first post-Jobs announcement from Infinite Loop is over. And somehow the Internet (barely) survived yet another Apple announcement. Truly amazing.
Joking aside, a lot was said throughout the course of the event and a lot of possibly game-changing features and devices were revealed. Today was all about software and hardware innovations, and a "powerful yet simple integrated experience," said Tim Cook. We have got a lot of ground to cover.
First up is iOS and some improvements and additions there. The first thing mentioned by Scott Forstall was Cards. Cards is a new app for iOS devices, where the user can create their own cards. From the phone, the user selects and designs their own card, be it for a wedding, birthday, etc. Apple will do the rest, print it, put it in an envelope, stamp it and mail it – after you pay Apple $2.99, of course. Novel idea, but it's more of a novelty feature than anything. Apple also announced the new app, Find My Friends. This is a service where you can share your current GPS location with your friends. Nothing truly new here.
The rest of the iOS 5 features touched on were covered at the iOS 5 event in June: Newsstand, Safari (tabbed browsing, reader, etc.), Camera improvements, Twitter integration and more. And lest we forget iCloud or iTunes Match – nothing new on that front. iOS 5 and iCloud will officially be available on October 12th. iTunes Match will launch in the US sometime later this month.
They also announced two upgrades to their iPod line. Yawn. (This is the point where I nearly dozed off.)
Next up is the iPhone 4S, which follows closely in line with the iPhone 4, comes with some internal upgrades but carries a very familiar design. The 4S will ship with the A5 processor, as seen in the iPad 2 (but different clock speeds and lower voltage). This is a dual-core processor with dual-core graphics and offers up to seven times faster graphics. And they've apparently worked hard to maintain that priority battery life. Nice. It has a redesigned outer band, that switches between antennas for stronger call quality. The 4S is not technically for 4G – or Apple isn't getting into that debate – but it rivals the speeds of 4G Android phones on AT&T. On top of that, it's a world phone – GSM and CDMA.
Seeing as the camera has surpassed all other cameras in popularity on Flickr, Apple wanted to make the iPhone's camera "better than point and shoot cameras." It now comes with an 8-megapixel camera (3264 by 2448 pixels, 60 percent more pixels than the iPhone 4). It also picks up 73 percent more light and packs a Hybrid IR filter. It also features "face detection, better white balance and it takes super fast photos." Video recording can be taken at 1080p, and the camera offers real-time image stabilization and temporal noise reduction.
Oh! I almost forgot to add that the iPhone 4S comes in black or white and in either 16GB, 32GB or 64GB for $199, $299 or $399 with a two-year agreement, respectively. It will also be availble to Sprint customers. Uhh ... Really, Apple? $399 with a two-year agreement for 64GB of memory? No. Thank. You. Pre-orders start on the 7th and it will officially launch on the 14th. Those who are interested, mark your calendars.
Last, but certainly not least, is Apple's new built-in, virtual assistant service, Siri. "What's the weather like today?" Siri gives you the forecast. You can speak to your phone and tell it what to do. Say, "Wake me up at 5:00 AM." Siri will set an alarm and wake you up at 5:00 AM. But there's more than that. It's "intelligent" and learns your preferences the more you use it. For instance, in the demo shown, the user received a text message asking "When can we have lunch?" The user replies (by talking), "I can do Friday." Siri not only sends the text via voice diction, but it schedules an appointment in your calendar. Paired with Wolfram Alpha (phenomenal software), you can also use Siri for reference and as a dictionary. It is quite literally a pocket assistant.
There is a caveat to Siri, however. Much like other voice control or input methods, you must talk slowly and clearly – likely not in your normal fashion. Apple says you can talk with your natural language, but the guys over at This is my next were reporting that Scott was talking "slowly, like you would to a child or a foreign language speaker."
So. The iPhone 5. Where do I begin? After several months of latency, hot rumors and tons of speculation, the highly-anticipated iPhone 5 is finally, officially not real. (That's right, no iPhone 5 exclusive for the Now Network.) What? How could this be? I'm literally floored by this and don't have much else to say.
So what's my take on all of this? Well, to be honest, I'm a bit underwhelmed. No. I'm very underwhelmed. It has been almost a year and a half since Apple released the iPhone 4, and all they have to offer is two upgrades in the form of internal hardware? Adding a dual-core processor and a better camera in the iPhone 4S is, more or less, minute. The iPhone 4 was already fast, and the camera was already fantastic. Nonetheless, they are improvements I'm sure many will be happy with. That said, Apple has been too caught up on worrying about their competitors "copying" them to realize that they have finally surpassed them. Bigger and higher resolution displays are on the verge of release, even bigger and faster processors are around the corner. Can the 4S hold Apple afloat for another year? Another year and a half?
People have long been anticipating a larger iPhone. In light of larger, more capable Android phones with 4-inch and beyond displays, the iPhone 4S sporting a 3.5-incher is absurd. People were anticipating an entirely new design – admittedly not my favorite – and changes in a big way. Neither the iPhone 4S or Siri can deliver on that level. I think the sudden dip in Apple's stock prices should serve as a testament to that.
All of this begs the question: what were all of those cases for? A new iPod yet to be announced? The next iPhone? Either way, I see a lot of people holding off on the iPhone 4S and waiting for something else. With out LTE, NFC or a larger display, I will pass on the iPhone 4S. I have my sights set on a Nexus. Can I get an AMEN?
So there it is. The wait is over. How do you ladies and gents feel post-announcement? Is the iPhone 4S everything you were hoping it would be? Is the lack of 4G a deal breaker? Are you disappointed that there was no iPhone 5? Is Apple falling behind in innovation and becoming the new RIM? Sound off and share your gripes (and excitement) below!
Image via This is my next