Today, Apple announced new versions of their iPhone and iPod Touch line of devices, as well as a new version of the iOS operating system that is their mobile device backbone.
The iPhone 4S was the main focus, showing some impressive internal specification bumps despite virtually no changes in the form factor. The phone will feature the dual-core, 1GHz A5 processor that is the same chip that features in the iPad 2. Apple claims that the chip can process twice as fast as the iPhone 4 and can put out graphics seven times faster. To show off the phone’s graphical capabilities, iOS exclusive Infinity Blade 2 was demoed. The Epic Games-produced title will release on December 1st. In addition, the iPhone 4S will feature Siri, a voice activated “virtual assistant” that will set reminders, bring up apps on command, and otherwise interact with its user via voice commands. Rounding out the new features were a better front-facing camera and 1080P video recording.
Apple also announced a new iPod Touch which will support Game Center. Both of Apple’s new devices will support iOS 5, Apple’s latest operating system which boasts iMessage (Apple’s text/messaging system), as well as improvements to notifications, stability, and the camera application. iOS 5 will support iCloud, which syncs purchased data from iTunes to all other authorized devices, as well as cloud storage for photos, documents, and iBooks.
iOS and the iCloud will be available on October 12th for the iPhone 3GS and above, 3rd generation iPod Touch users and above, and all iPad users. Preorders for the iPhone 4S will begin on October 7th, and the device will hit retail on October 14th at a cost of $199 for the 16GB version, $299 for the 32GB version, and $399 for a 64GB version (all prices with a two-year contract). iPad Touches will be $299 for a 32GB version and $399 for a 64GB version, while the previous generation has been lowered to $199. The iPhone 4S will be available across all three major carriers—Sprint, Verizon, and AT+T—for the first time. Previous versions of the phone have also had their prices lowered: the iPhone 4 will run $99 with a two-year contract, while the iPhone 3GS will be free with a contract (on AT+T only).
Analysis: If you were one of those people, like me, waiting for a long time for Apple to release the iPhone 5… well, keep waiting. For people who have been on their iPhone 4s or earlier for seemingly forever, today’s press conference was expected to be a home run. Instead Apple, in Tim Cook’s first major announcement since becoming the CEO, hit a single. The improvements to the iPhone 4S are nice if you really liked the iPhone 4 but wanted to take the next step, but if you’re one of those people who was deciding between an iPhone and a Droid, the 4S won’t win too many converts.
However, Apple’s developed a nice niche among gamers. Simply put, if you’re a mobile gamer in America, you own an iSomething. I’m running an iPhone 3G, which doesn’t play much at this point without stuttering, but I’m getting a Samsung Photon in two days. However, for this job, I need an iDevice for gaming, so I’m stuck buying an iPad Touch eventually. It’s a vicious cycle.
In fact, the number one thing that appeared to me among all of the Apple hype is that the whole iWhatever hype is just that: a vicious cycle of hype, vapour, false rumours, and almost yearly purchases of, in some cases, multiple devices of heavy expense. In fact, the amount of rumours that were bunked today should be a wake-up call that trying to “break” stories on Apple, even post-Jobs, is a fool’s game. If you’re even a new Apple convert, you’ve been expected to buy an iPad 2 ($599 minimum), either an iPad Touch ($229) or an iPhone 4 ($199 plus a two-year contract with either AT+T or Verizon), and the ability to sync them all with, at an absolute minimum, a Mac Mini ($599), or more realistically, a MacBook Air ($999). Further, these devices constantly get new versions with exclusive features to them. For example, Siri will only be available on the 4GS. We can criticize it all we want, but Apple isn’t the biggest business entertainment company in the world by being nice.
Gamers will like the new devices regardless because gaming on iOS is significantly better than gaming on Droid. But again, those who were looking to make a choice will not be affected by the latest press conference, and even diehard Apple fans seem to be disappointed. I’d link to one exceptionally whiny post in particular, but I refuse to link a Gawker site.