The announcement, delivered by Apple CEO Tim Cook from the company’s headquarters in Cupertino, California, carried three major points: The 4S will be faster, have a better camera and will be equipped with a new voice command software called Siri. Once you get over the fact it’s not the iPhone 5, here’s what you need to know:
It Listens and Talks
Many existing phones already have voice-controlled dialing. What the 4S has is voice-controlled everything. The new software—called Siri and billed as an “intelligent personal assistant”—will allow you to schedule appointments and reminders, ask for directions, check the weather, look up information on the internet and more. The way you interact with Siri is creepily reminiscent of the HAL 9000 from 2001: A Space Odyssey. It converses with you in a friendly, almost conversational tone, delivered by a calm female voice. Scott Forstall, Apple’s head of iOS development, demonstrated Siri’s capabilities on stage:
“Do I need a raincoat today?” Forstall asked.
“It sure looks like rain today,” Siri responded.
“Wake me up at 6am,” Forstall said.
“Okay, I’ve set an alarm for 6am tomorrow,” Siri replied.
Welcome to the future. Until the next iPhone comes out, anyway.
The 4S will come equipped with the new Apple A5 chip, 1GB of ram and a dual-core processor. According to Apple Vice President Phil Schiller, it’ll be up to seven times faster than previous models.
It’s Got a Kick-ass Camera
According to Schiller, Apple intends to compete “with the best point-and-shoot cameras.” To do so, Apple has equipped the 4S camera with an 8-megapixel sensor. Additionally, a backside sensor will allow the camera to take in 73 percent more light than previous models have, and you’ll now be able to capture images up to 3264×2448 pixels. All in all, your pictures will look better.
It Looks Just Like the 4 (sigh)
As far as looks, the 4S will have the exact same appearance as the 4, similar to the transition between the 3G and 3GS. It will cost $199 for the 16GB model, $299 for 32 GB and $399 for 64 GB. Pre-orders will begin October 7, and orders will start shipping out on October 14.