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Time to Talk iPhone

By Guy Verona - Tuesday, October 04, 2011

The wait for this years batch of iPhones is finally coming to an end as Apple gets set to unveil a wealth of new news coming out of its ‘Let’s Talk iPhone’ conference.

Join us live from 11AM Pacific Time for full coverage of what is sure to be an epic event.

As expected Tim Cook (the new Apple CEO) is the one taking charge of the conference. He opens up with a bit of small talk, looking quite excited at the prospect of feeding all the Apple junkies their latest fix. He starts off by talking about Apple’s seemingly unstoppable momentum. The iPod, The Macbook Air, even the Apple Stores themselves have been a huge success.  It is definitely a good time to be Apple.

Next we’re treated to a lecture on how well the Mac is doing. User adoption is through the roof ! With the iMac and Macbook Air finally becoming the best selling desktop and notebooks in the US ! It only took 20 odd years, so yay well done Apple. We are then told that Apple users update their OS much faster than Windows users. Mr Cook says this is a great thing, though personally I would say it isn’t surprising given that Microsoft charges for its OS updates and Apple doesn’t.

Next up we get some stats about what a great success the iPod has been in terms of sales, dominating with a 78% market share. Not surprising news at all, given the iPod was the first purely digital portable player on the market and is still easily one of the most examples of the technology available for sale today.

Then we get to the good stuff. It’s iPhone time baby!


Looks like first off we get to be told how amazingly well the iPhone is doing in sales, with the iPhone4 taking the forefront as being the iPhone of choice for over half of current iPhone owners.

And then we move onto the iPad. Which you guessed it, has been a huge success. This is a little bit annoying can we please get onto the good stuff Mr Cook.

Oh no he’s leaving the stage, now it’s time for Mr Scott Forstall (head of iOS development) to speak. iOS super popular (can you sense a theme going on here), dominating the mobile market with a mammoth 43 percent deployment rate compared to Androids 33%. 18 billion downloads of Apps from the Apple App store.

Ok finally we get to some good stuff. New features for iOS v5!.

First up is a new notifications feature. Gone is the annoying notification tower present on the current generation of iDevices, replaced instead with a tab which users can swipe down when they want to see what notifications they have waiting for them. Looks pretty cool, not exactly an original idea as Android has something quite similar, but good news none the less.

Next up is an iMessaging service, which basically allows you to push messages to various other iDevices (be it your own or other peoples). Perhaps I’m missing something here but that doesn’t seem particularly exciting to me.

Though the third new feature, localized reminders which actually activate based on whether or not you are near something that you need to take care of, is very cool indeed. I wonder how well this will actually work ?!? I guess the GPS on the new devices is going to be even more powerful than anything we’ve seen before.

Onto some slightly more boring news about a virtual Newsstand App, which as the name suggests will help deliver premium digital content to users. Seems a little redundant to me given the existence of the various iStores, but hey what do I know.

Good news then follows in the form of an updated Camera App, which includes some quick and easy new gestures to get access to your iDevices cameras at ever greater speeds. Pretty awesome actually as you can often miss those organic picture worthy moments whilst fumbling around trying to get the screen unlocked.

Then we got a brief talk about Gamecenter, which is essentially Xbox Live/PSN for the iDevices. Nothing terribly original here, but its something which a lot of people will be more than happy to finally see on their favorite Apple toys.

Finally a bit of news on Safari, the basic reader (that strips out all the junk - like ads) is getting an update and in general Safari will now behave a lot more like the latest versions of Firefox and Chrome. Multi-tabbing in browser will be available for iPads and you will be able to save your current browser page and push it to other iDevices you may own.

Now for the real shocking news. The latest version of iOS will be available for download from October 12th ! So it won’t be long before you get to try out all these great new features for yourselves.

With that announcement Scott is done and we move onto Eddy Cue to learn about the iCloud. This isn’t very inspiring stuff, basically he talks about how you can download your purchases from iTunes onto all of your iDevices at no extra cost (gee thanks!). How you can store your photos and videos in the iCloud for free rather than storing them on your device, though they will be deleted after 30 days and you will have to pay 3G costs if you’re not connected to a Wi-Fi network (again thanks). Finally App developers can use it to store stuff in. Yep iCloud sounds ummmmm yea…...

Next up is an App that can find your friends for you. Like literally tell you where they are at any given moment in time by tracking their iDevices. That isn’t a creepy invasion of privacy at all, great job Apple. It certainly has its uses but perhaps that is going just a little bit too far.

Now Phil Schiller (Head of iPod’s) is taking the stage.

Some exciting news (or is it given the new Find a Friend App). The new iPod Nano is available from today. Designed to sit on your wrist and pretend it’s a watch. 8GB version $129, 16GB version $169. Obviously there is also going to be a new iPod Touch (I didn’t quite catch when that will be out), this time fully loaded with iOS v5 and access to the iCloud. The new iPod Touch will be available in 8GB versions at $199 “, 32GB versions at $299 and 64GB versions at $399.

Finally it seems like it is time to talk about iPhones.

The new iPhone4S is coming packing a real punch. It will have the new A5 processor under the hood, able to run duel core graphics which are said to be seven times faster than anything previously seen running on an iPhone before. We then get treated to a demo of what Infinity Blade 2 will look like on the new iPhone4S and let me tell you, it is almost indistinguishable from a game that you would expect to see being run on a PS3 or Xbox360. Very nice indeed.

Bandwidth usage has also been improved for the new version of the iPhone 4. With the 4S being capable of transferring data twice as fast as its predecessor. In terms of communication networks, the iPhone4S will be able to operate on both GSM and CDMA networks, which should come as a bit of relief for people who like to travel.

Now onto the camera, there is a lot of technical jargon thrown out, with the bottom line being that the newly redeveloped camera (which presumably will be on the iPhone 5 as well) is able to take better quality pictures, at a faster rate, than any other smartphone on the market. The speeds are actually pretty impressive (1 second for the first picture, then 0.5 second for every picture after that) and the images and videos Apple have on display do look stunning. So that is pretty cool.

Another very cool new feature is the AirPlayMirroring system, which basically allows you to stream media content wirelessly from your iDevice to any other WiFi enabled device (say a TV or desktop computer). Pretty awesome stuff.

Next up, new and improved voice recognition software called Siri. Siri let’s users ask their phone questions (issue voice commands) and the iPhone will respond accordingly (either by verbally telling you the information you wanted, or by showing it on the screen). The examples on stage seem to be going pretty well, but we’ve been burnt by this Voice Control thing before, so personally I want to see how this performs in the field before I get too excited over it. You can actually download the Siri app already, though it isn’t all that impressive without the latest bits of tech that currently only Apple have in their hands.

Apple really love Siri. I don’t think they’ve spent this long talking about anything else during the entire conference. For now Siri will be available in English (US,UK and Australian), French and German. It will learn individual users accents over time, so whilst it may not be super accurate right out of the box, the more it gets used, the better it will become (that’s what people always tell us about Voice - ah well).

With an all new antenna, the iPhone 4S WILL be released in the US and EU on October 14th, with pricing being set at $199 for the 16GB version, $299 for the 32GB version and $399 for 64GB version.

That is it folks ! No iPhone 5, guess we are just going to have to keep on dreaming for that little bit longer…

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