The Biggest, Most Complete “Let’s Talk iPhone” Wrap Up!


Today’s “Let’s Talk iPhone” just wrapped up with Apple unleashing a ton of new stuff. Hop past the break as we give you the most complete rundown of everything iOS 5/iPhone 4S/iCloud related…
 

Cards


Apple started off the event with a surprise (yawner) — Cards. The gist: you take pictures on your iPhone and “Apple does the rest”. Bonus: Push Notification for when the arrives at your address.

Pricing for individual cards will be set at $2.99 within the U.S. and $4.99 internationally. Coming October 12th.

iPod Shuffle

Unchanged.

Price: $49 for 2 GB

iPod Nano


Nope. The non-iPod Touch isn’t dead yet.

The iPod Nano has received some updates mainly in the way you navigate the device. Instead of swiping between a grid users now swipe between larger, single icons on the display. For as small as the display on the Nano is, it makes more sense.

Being the small, fitness friendly design it is, the Nano has also received new enhancements to allow fitness buffs to take the Nano on runs/bikes/walks/whatever without the need for a Nike+ adapter now. Other perks include 16 new clock faces — since people apparently love to make the Nano a watch with 3rd party straps.

Pricing for the revamped iPod Nano is $129 (8 GB) and $149 (16 GB)

iPod Touch


No major hardware changes.

Apple’s Phil Schiller confirmed on stage that Apple’s #1 most popular player will receive the iOS 5 update, iCloud support and of course, iMessage to help tie the device in with it’s other siblings.

As previous rumors suggested, the iPod Touch now comes in black and white.

Pricing: $199 (8 GB), $299 (32 GB), and $399 (64 GB)

iOS 5

Notification Center: While Notification Center isn’t new, it is worth re-highlighting. Essentially all of those annoying pop-ups are now gone under iOS 5. Everything is tucked away and easily accessible from a slide-down (yes Android people — they “stole” it) drawer where individual notifications can be glanced at, ignored, or dismissed.

Twitter Integration: Twitter is now engrained deep down into iOS 5. Everything from pictures to Safari links to Maps directions can be tweeted. Bonus: Multiple account support.

Newsstand: A modern digital newsstand of sorts, Apple’s newsstand allows seamless subscriptions to popular digital content and even downloads new releases in the background.

Camera: The camera in iOS 5 is now immediately accessible via the lockscreen. On top of that the new camera features grid lines, pinch-to-zoom and the ability to set the auto-exposure and auto-focus lock. Simple photo editing (read: croping, rotating, red-eye removal, etc.) can now be done on your iDevice.

Safari: Faster, more compliant, “Reading List” to sync read/browsed content between devices and — tabbed browsing.

Mail: Rich formatting, indentation, flagging emails,

Wireless Updates: No more being chained to iTunes to re-setup an iOS device. Do it all on the fly.

Release & Support: October 12th. Will support the iPod Touch (3rd|4th Gen), iPad (1|2), and iPhone (3GS|4).

iCloud

Like MobileMe attempted to do, iCloud is Apple’s second go at this cloud thing. All iOS devices (and OS X too) will get iCloud support in some form or fashion as it’s free!

  • Re-download iTunes purchases on any iOS or OS X device you’re logged into with your Apple ID.
  • Photos, books, and documents are automatically uploaded to iCloud and synced between devices. (That could get expensive for all the iPhotographers out there…)
  • Daily iCloud backups will ensure contacts and calendars are kept in sync across devices.
  • Find My Friends: Find your nearest friends. Before you freak out make note that the feature is completely voluntary and must be enabled by the end user, features privacy & parental controls/restrictions too.

iTunes Match


Apple’s iTunes match will come free to all iOS/OSX users and feature 5 GB of storage for mail, documents and iCloud backups. If you’ve got some music in iTunes that isn’t in the iTunes Music Store, this is the place to store it for anywhere-access.

The service will scan and match your iTunes library online and allow immediate streaming of your full local library from the cloud. All matched songs will be in the 256kbps AAC format.

Release: End of October for $24.99/yr (U.S.)

iPhone 4S


The iPhone 4S retains the same design as last year’s iPhone 4 but packs a completely new beast within.

First and foremost: A5. The dual-core processor features twice as fast processing chops and graphical power up to 7x faster than the (just outdated) iPhone 4. The newfound power doesn’t mean less battery life, though. Apple quotes 40 hrs. of music, 10 hrs. for video, 3G/WiFI browsing at 6 and 9 hrs. respectively. 2G talking time comes in at 14 hours while 3G is rated at 8hrs.

On the even stage, Epic Games showed off the upcoming Infinity Blade 2 (coming December 1st). In short: the iPhone 4S has some serious horsepower.

The antenna system was a widely publicized sore point for Apple (and iPhone 4 users alike), even earning it’s own scandalous “antenna-gate” handle. The iPhone 4S a much smarter antenna that can actually switch between the two antennas for send/receive transmissions. On top of that it’s a world phone meaning no more separate iPhones for CDMA/GSM users. For GSM users, the iPhone 4S now supports 14.4 Mbps HSPA+. For CDMA users — yes, “users”…welcome to the party Sprint customers — the same iPhone can be shared with your GSM frenemies either locally or abroad.


The iPhone 4S, as rumored, gets a new (rear) camera — a more powerful 8-megapixel beast. (That’s 3264 x 2448 people.) Schiller correctly noted during the keynote that “pixels aren’t everything”. The iPhone 4S’ 8mp camera features a back-lit CMOS censor for much better low-light shots. According to Apple, the back-lit sensor is good for 73% more light for pictures and accounts for 33% faster photo taking compared to the iPhone 4. Along with the aforementioned goodies, the new camera will also feature 30% more sharpness and a f/2.4 lens. Finally, Apple announced the iPhone 4S’ camera features an in-house Image Signal Processor. In short: intelligent face detection and 26% better white balance.

Compared to some other high-end Android handsets, the new iPhone 4S has them beat (for now) with the 4S taking 1.1s to open up to the first photo (2.0s for the Galaxy S, 2.1s for the HTC Sensation and 3.7s for the DROID Bionic). The second and subsequent images from the 4S will be captured in a mere 0.5s — the HTC Sensation takes 1.3s for the same feet while the Galaxy S II trails with 1.8s and the DROID Bionic again brings up the rear with a 1.6s gap between shots.

Video recording resolution receives it’s own upgrade to 1080p. True HD is finally here for iOS users. Added tweaks include video image stabilization and temporal noise reduction.

Wrapping up the camera and video section: AirPlay. Sharing your content with larger screens will is now made easy thanks to AirPlay mirroring. If a large screen isn’t your fancy, there’s always an iPad.

Siri Voice Assistant

iOS 5, iCloud, and the iPhone 4S are great additions to Apple’s mobile line up, but it is Siri’s voice assistant that is truly the best to come from this year’s event.

While some will correctly highlight that Apple is hardly the first to do voice activation, they’re missing the point. Apple takes other people’s ideas/half-baked work and (generally) builds upon them. That is exactly what they’ve done with Siri.

With Siri you don’t need to use some robotic sounding commands and listen to non-human, robotic responses in return. The live-demo given on stage and Scott Forstall asking normal questions like “What is the weather today?” and “What time is it?”. But even then, that is last year’s tech. Siri expands. If you say “Wake me up at *insert time here*, Siri will automatically create an alarm for the time. Along the same lines, food information can be inquired about compliments of Yelp and map directions just as easily searched (and automatically routed).

Leapfrogging X2: Another demo on stage showcased a scenario in which the user is wearing a bluetooth headset and receives a text message asking for plans on Friday. Instead of having to look down and/or navigate to the iMessage app, users can simply hold the home button down and tell Siri to “Read my message”. Naturally, the user can have it read again, ask Siri if there are any conflicting appointments, and then reply to the message via Siri. From there a couple of quick voice commands later and you’ve got your new calendar appointment set up too.

But wait, it gets better with reminders. Scenario: “Remind me to call my wife when I get off of work”. Siri automatically figured out who Scott’s wife was and set up a reminder based on his location so that when he leaves a reminder pops up to call his wife.

Moving on to the browser, one can say something like “Search Wikipedia for Neil Armstrong” and all…BOOM. There’s Safari, Wikipedia, and Neil Armstrong.

Another: “Define mistosis” WolframAlpha comes to the rescue.

And another: “How many days until Christmas?” Siri responds with 82 days; 2 months, 21 days, 11 weeks, 5 days; 58 weekdays and .22 years.

Aside from the Voice Assistant feature powered by Siri, voice dictation is now placed throughout iOS 5. As previous leaks have shown, a new microphone icon sits next to the spacebar on the on-screen keyboard that launches a remote dictation service. (Bad part: data service required.) Bonus: It “learns” your voice and how you speak.

Voice dictation/Siri will work with English (US, UK, and Australia), French, and German. For now Apple is listing Siri as a “beta” and has promised other languages will soon follow.

**Siri will only “officially” work on the iPhone 4S, though it has been reported that iOS jailbreak developers are already working on porting Siri to the 4th-gen iPod Touch.

Pricing & Availability

When signed with a new 2-year contract, the iPhone 4S will come in 16 GB ($199) and 32 GB ($299) flavors as well as a new 64 GB ($399) model. (Last minute rumors were right.)

The party starts on over 100 carriers across 70 countries beginning on October 14th.

October 14th

  • Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Japan, UK, United States

October 28th

  • Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Mexico, Netherlands, Norway, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland.

The remaining countries will see the iPhone 4S “by the end of the year”.

Pre-orders start this Friday, October 7th.

“One More Thing”


New iPhone customers will have more choices than ever this year as along with the $199/$299/$399 iPhone 4S units is release of a new $99 iPhone 4 8 GB and the prolonged life given to the old 8 GB iPhone 3GS. The last one, mind you, is now completely free on a 2-year contract. (Look for iOS marketshare to explode over the next few months.)

Wrap Up

The iPhone 4S may not be in the physical form many people were looking for. But what it lacks in a the physical sense it more than makes up for on the software side. Siri by itself is perhaps the biggest software addition to happen to iOS since the iPhone’s launch back in 2007, not to mention the mobile world as a whole. Correct us if we’re wrong, but nothing on the market currently comes close to being as seamless, easy to use, robust and — oh, yeah — good looking as Siri. Add to that the A5 processor, upgrades to the camera, revamped smart antenna and joined by iCloud and iOS 5 and you’ve got yourselves a serious upgrade.

This year also marks the first time Apple has kept 3 separate iPhone generations on the market: the iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4, and now iPhone 4S. iOS is about to get a healthy kick in marketshare not only because of the newer, affordable options but also with the healthy allotment of launch countries.

And yes, Sprint customers. You finally got your iPhone too.

Stay tuned for the coming weeks will certainly reveal many new, smaller features of the iPhone 4S, iOS 5, iCloud, and iTunes Match. Not to mention we’ll be getting an iPhone 4S ourselves. (Read: Review incoming.)

Gallery

Photo credits: Engadget | The Verge