Apple execs took the stage in Cupertino on the Apple Campus, where they announced the latest iPhone, the iPhone 4S. Apple also revealed October 12 as the launch date for iOS 5, and its coming to the iPad and iPad 2.
The latest verision of Apple’s mobile operating system will bring 200 new features and updates, though a select 10 stand out among the others.
- Notifications: Alerts will be visible from the top by swiping down — an identical setup on Android– and with notifcations gathering in the Notification Center annoying popups will be no more.
- iMessage: Basically the BBM of iOS, the instant messaging system will be pushed to all devices running the latest OS and will feature delivery and read receipts.
- Twitter: Now the social networking service will be deeply integrated into the OS, meaning users won’t be burdened with multiple sign-ins and will be able to share pictures right from Photos.
- Newsstand: Apple’s new hub for newspapers and magazines, Newsstand will support background downloading and manage user’s various subscriptions over the service.
- Camera app: Simply double-tap on the home button to take a pic. The volume up button can also be used to take a photo, though doing so will not feature a proper shutter release.
- Game Center: Updated to add photos of friends, achievement points and friend recommendations, among other new aspects.
- Safari: The reader function strips out all the excess and pulls documents into a single, readable page, which can be saved and added to your reading list for future reference, and will sync between all iOS devices. Full tabbed browsing will also be coming to the iPad.
- Mail: Adding rich formatting, indentation, moving addresses around and flagging them, to name just a few of the features upgraded within Mail.
- Over the Air Updates: Apple iPad and iPhone owners will no longer have to wire into a desktop or laptop and launch iTunes to receive future iOS updates, rendering all future updates over-the-air deliverable.
- iTunes Match: This nifty service scans your music library, adds some goodies from iTunes and uploads anything that isn’t in iTunes already. You can stream your entire library, and playlists as well, by simply tapping on it. All for an annual fee of $24.99, of course.
In addition, Apple’s Eddy Cue took the stage to elaborate on iCloud, which “stores your content and wirelessly pushes it to all your devices,” according to Apple. Docs will be synched across all devices, saved in the cloud. Cue reiterated that iCloud will be free. iCloud will take the old MobileMe services, like mail, calendar and contacts, and revamp them, adding a ton of other features and functionality. The service will also backup purchased music, books and apps automatically, manages uploaded photos with a Photo Stream service and provides users with 5GB of space to use for extra document backup and storage.
One of the biggest announcements of the day was a voice recognition service that operates more like an AI, known as “Siri”. Previously rumored to be dubbed “Assistant”, Siri allows users to ask questions and give directions to their iPhone. As iOS senior vice president, Scott Forstall, demonstrated at the event, Siri recognized his vocal request for a reminder to call his wife after work, and even more impressively recognized his wife as Molly in his contacts. Siri also works in tandem with location services and establishes a “geofence” around your place of work, which is triggers the reminder once crossed.
Siri can also be used for remote dictation, with a newly minted microphone icon located on the keyboard next to the spacebar. The service can be used to ask for definitions and search the web as well.
According to Forstall, Siri works right out of the box, though the quality improves as it learns the sound of your voice. The service will be beta to start, offering English, French and German, with more languages and services to come. Apple did leave us questioning whether Siri would be coming to the iPad or if the impressive service will be restricted to the upcoming iPhone 4S.
Apple execs announced a new iPhone, dubbed the iPhone 4S, which will have a dual-core A5 ARM processor, which Apple claims is up to seven times faster than the single-core chip.
In a rundown of Apple’s recent successes, Tim Cook touted the iPad’s 95% customer satisfaction rate, as well as its appeal in education, healthcare and with airline pilots. Cook also claimed that 92% of Fortune 500 companies are testing or deploying iPads, and the iPad accounts for three out of every four tablets sold in the US. Also, there are now 140,000 iPad apps in the App Store.
In iPod news, Apple has announced iOS 5 is coming to the iPod touch. The iPod touch will come in white and cost $199 (8GB), $299 (32GB), $399 (64GB).
In addition, Apple announced two new iPod Nano models, priced $129 (8GB) and $149 (16GB). The new iPod Nanos will have a feature that enables fitness tracking similar to Nike Plus, but without any accessories.