Tim Cook, the new CEO of Apple, took the stage at Apple’s famed Town Hall room in Cupertino, CA today. His mission: to unveil the brand new iPhone 4S, the latest edition of the popular smartphone. He didn’t come out in the traditional turtle neck and jeans made popular by Steve Jobs, but he was dressed in a casual pair of jeans coupled with a button-up long sleeve shirt.
Tim Cook has 14 years of history with Apple, dating all the way back to the period in which Steve Jobs made his return to Apple after Next was bought out and he replaced Gill Amilio as CEO. Tim came to Apple in March of 1998, originally serving as the Senior Vice President for Worldwide Operations. Over the years, he has been been an essential member of the management team responsible for the development of projects like the iPod, iPhone, iPad, and the new Intel-based Macs. He is credited with changing the manufacturing process of Apple and greatly reducing fulfillment costs by taking Apple out of the production process and moving it to third-party vendors.
Apple’s Year in Review
Tim Cook started his announcement by giving a nod to Apple’s retail stores across the world, with new stores opening in China and Japan. After that, he went on to speak to the growth and success of the company as a whole over the past year.
With over 300 million units sold, the iPod has outsold well known brands including the Sony Walkman — which took 30 years to sell 230,000 units. The iTunes Music Store now includes 20 million tracks, which is a giant leap from the 200,000 it started with just eight years ago. Over 16 billion songs have been downloaded using the service, and it currently holds the title as the largest music store in the world.
Over half of all the iPhones sold since its start in 2007 are the iPhone 4. Currently, the iPhone 4 is the best selling smartphone in the world.
He then went on to speak about the iPad, the newest platform from Apple. Currently in its second rendition, the iPad is receiving a 95% score in recent customer satisfaction surveys. In addition, schools are beginning to use the iPad to assist with education. As both a capable book reader and multifunctional computer, it makes sense that devices like these would be used for educational purposes. At this time, every state in the US has an iPad deployment or pilot in place. In addition, 92% of Fortune 500 are presently testing for iPad deployment in the workplace. In less than 18 months, that’s an incredible number.
Pilots are also using the iPad to replace their traditional 40 pound flight bags. Navigation and systems monitoring can be done on the iPad using a combination of special software and hardware made to interact with the plane during flight.
As a development platform, iOS has been responsible for over $3 billion in payouts to developers. This means that developers selling their apps through the iTunes App Store are part of a multi-billion dollar industry.
After reviewing the success Apple has seen over the past few years in the mobile market, the latest iteration of iOS (iOS 5) was the next subject brought up for discussion. For this, he handed it off to Scott Forstall, the Senior Vice President of iOS Software at Apple, to introduce the latest news on iOS.
Forstall began by reviewing what we already knew about iOS 5. Twitter integration, iMessage, and a new notifications system were expected features that have already been introduced. Over 100,000 developers have been seeded the new OS, giving them a head start on developing their apps around the latest features.
Updates to the Camera app include a home screen shortcut and HDR capabilities built in. You can edit photos on-device using crop, rotate, red-eye removal, and other basic editing features. Safari on the iOS has been updated to include Reader. This feature takes the story on a page and formats it to fit perfectly within the device’s screen.
The latest version of the iOS is now PC-free, meaning that you can use your iPad or iPhone as your only device, freeing you from having to rely on tethering for updates and syncing.
iOS 5 will be available for download on October 12th on the iPhone 4, 3GS, iPad, and iPad 2, and iPod touch 3rd and 4th generation. This is in addition to the iPhone 4S and 5th generation iPod touch announced today.
The next announcement revolved around iCloud, a multi-platform syncing feature that allows you to access the same files from your mobile and desktop computers. Eddie Cue took the stage to give this announcement. iCloud allows you to sync content bought on the iTunes music and app stores across all of your devices automatically, bringing iTunes management to the cloud. Photo Stream allows you to send photos taken on your iOS devices to your desktop computer automatically, making it easier to back up your photos to iPhoto without having to bother with tethered syncing.
iCloud also allows you to perform daily backup from your iOS devices, making it easier to retrieve your important data in the unfortunate event that you experience hardware failure, damage, or loss.
In a move that could be considered a jab at Foursquare, a new app for iOS is coming, and it’s called Friends and Family. This app helps you share your location with friends and family both selectively and automatically, making it easier for them to find you when you’re out and about. The example Eddie Cue gave was keeping up with your family at Disneyland. You can also set the app to automatically stop sharing your location at a given time of day. This is part of iCloud, which is free for iOS 5 and Lion users.
New iPod touch and nano
Phil Schiller took the stage next to talk more about the iPod. The iPod nano is receiving an update that includes multi-touch and larger icons, which should make the device easier to navigate. In addition, you can use the iPod nano to track your fitness progress right out of the box, without the need of additional sensors or devices. The updated iPod nano includes 16 new clock faces to make it more fun to use as a wrist watch. The new iPod nano comes in seven colors and is available at US$129 for 8 GB and a 16 GB model is going at US $149. The new iPod nano is available today.
The iPod touch also received an update. Already considered the most popular music player, it has also recently gained the title of the best selling portable game player in the world, as well. The iPod touch is now available in both black and white at US$199 with 32 GB and 64 GB models available at US$299 and $399, respectively.
iPhone 4S with Siri
Schiller went on to talk about the news everyone had been waiting for: the new iPhone 4S. The new iPhone includes an A5 chip, made popular with the iPad. The A5 processor is a dual core CPU. Dual core graphic processing is also available, giving users up to seven times faster performance during gameplay than the iPhone 4.
The battery also received a bit of a boost, increasing to eight hours of talk time.
The antenna issue discovered shortly after the iPhone 4 was released has been addressed by introducing intelligent switching between two antennas, giving the phone a better connection based on which antenna has the better signal.
Data downloads have also been increased, going from a theoretical mix of 5.8 Mbps up and 7.2 Mbps down to almost 14.4 Mbps down. According to Schiller, this is what competitors call 4G, but they appear to be sticking with the 3G data platform.
The iPhone 4S includes a better camera as well. An eight megapixel sensor allows for 3264 x 2448 image resolution (roughly 60% more pixels in images). The CMOS backside illuminated sensor gets 73% more light in an image than the sensor included with the iPhone 4, and 33% faster shooting capability. An update to the IR filter has also been made to increase accuracy and uniformity of images. A new lens system including five lens elements will allow shooting to be done at f2.4.
Apple has also tweaked the software a bit to allow faster launch to shoot time, giving you a split second between hitting the camera app and being able to snap your first photo. This compares to almost double that of the Galaxy S II and HTC Sensation.
1080p video is also promised on the iPhone 4S, with real-time video image stabilization and real-time temporal noise reduction included. This means shooting full-HD video on the iPhone 4S while talking around or moving should look a lot better than previous versions.
The next thing up for discussion during the big announcement is Siri, an intelligent digital assistant that answers questions and gets things done just by asking. Siri is voice driven, making it easy to use on the move. Perhaps this could be the closest thing we have to Tony Stark’s JARVIS?
Siri can even read messages to you, at your request, from your message queue. You can also send text messages, schedule meetings and reminders, ask about nearby restaurants and locations, ask for definitions, immediate Wolfram Alpha and Wikipedia lookups, and more. During the announcement, Scott asked Siri how many days are left until Christmas. Naturally, Siri responded right away with the answer.
For those of you looking for an a way to do simple verbal dictation wherever you see a keyboard in iOS, Siri does that too. Do you have an accent or lisp? Don’t worry, Siri learns your voice. It will be beta during launch, but is intended to grow as updates become available. Supported languages include English (US, UK, and Australia), French, and German.
The iPhone 4S will be available in black and white, 16 GB for US$199, 32 GB for $299, and 64 GB for $399. The iPhone 4 will be made available in black and white at $99. Perhaps the most impressive price change yet, the 3GS is now free. The iPhone 4S will be available on October 14, 2011 for customers in the United States, Canada, Australia, United Kingdom, France, Germany, and Japan. The iPhone is now being made available on Sprint in addition to AT&T and Verizon.