No iPhone 5 yet, but iPhone 4S astounds with Siri voice-recognition feature
Update (October 5): Siri voice-recognition app for iPhone 4S will work in Canada, with one caveat
Despite the yearning by technologists, Apple did not reveal the iPhone 5 today (October 4).
But there was lots to talk about at the “Let’s talk iPhone” event held at the Apple headquarters in Cupertino, California, including details about the iPhone 4S and its voice recognition feature, which will be available in Canada next week on October 14, the same day it lands in the U.S.
iPhone 4S models come in black or white in one of three configurations. Pricing available is U.S. only, with a two-year contract (Canadian pricing has not yet been announced):
16 GB: US$199
32 GB: US$299
64 GB: US$399
People can pre-order the iPhone 4S (unlocked versions only, starting at $649 in Canada) through Apple beginning this Friday (October 7).
The iPhone 4S looks like an iPhone 4, but sports completely revised hardware, including an Apple-designed A5 chip, the same as in the iPad 2, with a dual-core processor and dual-core graphics.
On stage, Epic Games demonstrated Infinity Blade 2, releasing on December. 1, which president Mike Capps said showed graphics techniques that “aren’t available on home gaming consoles”.
The iPhone 4S is both a GSM and CDMA smartphone, which means the same device will work with any carrier in Canada.
It has an updated wireless system which switches between the two antennas for faster downloads and better connections.
The new camera has an eight-megapixel sensor, wider aperture, and better lens, and 1080p video capability with image stabilization.
But the astounding innovation that comes with the iPhone 4S is the voice recognition capability Apple calls “Siri”, which allows users to ask questions in a multitude of ways.
In the demonstration of the feature, Scott Forstall, senior VP of iOS software, had Siri do the following tasks:
• get directions and provide a weather update
• locate nearby restaurants
• send notes and schedule meetings
• read a message and check the calendar for appointments
• set an alarm
• perform web searches, unit conversions
Siri works with built-in apps, even doing dictation, and performance will improve as it learns the voice of the user. It’s more of an assistant than an application, and had Forstall talking to his iPhone 4S like it was a person.
CEO Tim Cook Cook started the press event by talking about the success of Apple’s retail stores, mentioning the beauty and success of new stores in China. He did not mention the Metrotown location that opened on September 24.
Dressed in black jeans and a navy open-collared shirt with a black tee visible underneath, this was Cook’s first press event since taking over as CEO from Steve Jobs, who resigned on August 24.
Apple’s fall press briefing has, until now, been focused on the company’s iPod gadget, which launched 10 years ago.
Cook name-checked the device, by claiming that iPods account for 70 percent of the portable music player market, and there have been more than 16 billion songs downloaded from the iTunes music store, and announced a revised iPod nano, which now has walking and running fitness features built in.
But today’s event was about the company’s latest iteration of its smartphone. And even though many are disappointed they won’t be holding an iPhone 5 next week, the voice capability of the iPhone 4S is reason enough to take notice.