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iPhone 4S, iOS 5 and New iPods Impress at Apple Launch

We’ll, that was interesting. Apple’s first big show since Steve Jobs stepped out of the spotlight started slowly but had some interesting twists.

The first half hour of the “Let’s talk iPhone” was just slide after slide of numbers to show how well Apple is doing, and the iPhone wasn’t even discussed until 50 minutes in. Once the show got going, there were some impressive new toys on display. Here’s a quick recap of our favourites.

iOS 5 updates

We’ve seen iOS 5 before, but there were still a few revelations about the updated operating system for iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch:

  • Improved camera app, shoot photos without unlocking the phone, and use the volume control as a physical shutter button
  • iMessage, a free messaging service between Apple devices, like the BBM service on BlackBerry. Send texts to another iPhone, iPad, or iPod Touch for free (except your internet costs)
  • Location aware reminders so you can, for example, be reminded to buy milk when you walk past the shop.
  • Built in Twitter, send messages and upload photos from inside Apple apps
  • Better notifications – the software no longer takes over the whole screen when it’s got something to tell you
  • Cards app, to print and send your photos as greetings cards. Is this going to worry Moonpig?
  • Newsstand for magazine subscriptions
  • Web browser improvements
  • iCloud PC free updates – never plug your device into a computer again to update software and load music
  • Find my friends – share your current location with a select group of friends
  • Game Centre improvements.

iCloud in particular is a great feature, and you can get much more information in our other iCloud articles. iOS 5
will be available from 12 October.

Updated iPod touch and nano

Both the iPod touch and iPod nano got some interesting software tweaks, but the hardware seems pretty much the same as before. The only big change is the iPod touch will now be available in white, and all models look likely to get a price drop.

The nano has seen some nice interface tweaks and the addition of a new fitness app from Nike. It’s also clear that Apple liked all of the iPod nano watch straps, because they’ve added 16 new clock faces including a Mickey Mouse design!

The iPod touch really benefits from the iOS 5 update, particularly iCloud web storage and iMessage.

iPhone 4S

Apple iPhone 4S

Lastly, the big news. Many will be disappointed that there’s no iPhone 5 this time around – after all we’ve waited a long time for something that looks exactly the same. The iPhone 4S is identical to the iPhone 4 on the outside, but has been completely redesigned inside. Here are my favourite new features:

  • A5 processor, just like the iPad 2. This will run twice as fast as the iPhone 4, with much better graphics
  • Improved wireless antenna, for double speed downloads compared to iPhone 4
  • Improved 8 megapixel camera and full HD 1080p video. Apple hasn’t just added more pixels, it looks like the camera is improved in every way. I can’t wait to test this out!
  • Siri voice control – this is the big feature Apple wants to show off. Use natural voice commands like “wake me at 6am” and the iPhone 4S will set the alarm. Say “Find a good Indian restaurant near me” and iPhone 4S will bring back the numbers. If it works like the demo, this will be really cool.

Conclusions

These updates may not be as as revolutionary as some people would like, but Apple has made clear improvements across it’s whole mobile range. I think iCloud and iMessage on their own are going to be game-changers.

You can pre-order the iPhone 4S from this Friday, 7 October, and it will be on sale from 14 October. It’s worth noting that the iPhone 4 and iPhone 3GS (both also compatible with iOS 5) will still be on sale, and the 3GS is likely to be free on contract. Expect to see a lot more iPhones in a high street near you.


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