EVEN BEFORE the Special Media Event that Apple held on Tuesday was over, a certain level of disappointment was heard through Twitter. Apple fans throughout the region were glued to their computers to follow the events as newly appointed CEO Tim Cook took to the stage in California to unveil the iPhone 5. Or so we thought, as what was really unveiled was a souped-up version of iPhone 4 rather than the super-duper and brand-new iPhone 5 many of us had come to expect. But there is every reason to be excited about the 4S.
The disappointment did not lie with the new CEO, however, as Cook seemed to do a good job. He doesn’t have the reality-distortion field of Steve Jobs, but then very few people do. Cook and his crew made announcements about Macs (one out of every four computers sold in stores in the US is a Mac), iPods (there is now a white iPod touch), iOS 5 (it will be released October 12), and much more but the main story from the show was of course the new iPhone.
In hardware nothing has changed on the outside of the iPhone 4S, which is reason for some disappointment with Apple. The new iPhone looks the same as the existing one so no larger display, for example, which was something I was hoping for. Inside there’s a lot that is new, like a faster processor, giving the iPhone 4S double the CPU performance and up to seven times the graphics performance of the predecessor. Apple has tweaked the battery too, it seems, so you get more talk time as well as data use out of one charge. You also get faster data speeds with iPhone 4S, up to 14.4Mbps maximum download speed, in fact. Two things that really stand out with the new iPhone are that it’s now a world phone and the camera. To start with the camera, it’s now an eight megapixel sensor, with 33% faster capture speed and improved low-light performance. An updated lens also adds to what presumably will be high-quality photos from the new iPhone. Throw in full HD 1080p video recording with real-time video image stabilisation and you’ve got something that may rival dedicated compact digital cameras.
That iPhone 4S is a world phone basically means it will work on both GSM and CDMA networks so wherever you go in the world with your iPhone 4S you should be able to connect to the local networks. While you’re in the UAE this doesn’t make any difference but the more you travel the world it can mean the difference between making a call or not.
What has much more far-reaching implications for how we interact with technology than any of the hardware is Siri, the intelligent assistant built into the iPhone 4S. With Siri, Apple is taking a dramatic step into the future, a future where we will primarily use our ability to speak as a way to interact with gadgets. You speak with Siri in a natural way, asking, for example, what is the weather today. Tell Siri to book a meeting with Ahmed on Monday at 2pm when you already have another meeting booked, and Siri can warn you of this conflict and help you find some other time that is suitable, all just using your voice.
When we’ll see the new iPhone in our part of the world we don’t know at this stage but at least you now know that you will not have to buy a new case for it; the one you have for your iPhone 4 should work just fine.