eye phone four ess

In Tim Cook’s first product introduction since being officially named CEO, Apple introduced us to the iPhone 4S yesterday. There was an above average rumor mill leading up to this release, so let’s take a look at how things faired.

Confirmed Rumors

The A5 processor was a pretty fair bet. Following the apparent pattern established last year with the iPad and introduction of the A4, there was good reason to believe the latest and greatest iPhone should run on Apple’s latest and greatest chip. By all accounts the 4S is snappier, and by the looks of it this new computing power is put to good use.

Ever since they acquired Siri in April 2010, rumors have been floating around that Apple would reintroduce their voice recognition technology as a major component of the iPhone. Leading up to Tuesday’s announcement, those rumors began to have a consistent voice. Apple opted to keep the name, and Siri assistant was reborn as the key new feature of the iPhone 4S. While the product demos suggest that Siri is a very capable assistant, I assume there is a reason Apple has chosen to designate it as beta. Rather than jumping up and down for what Siri offers today, I’m much more excited about where this technology will be five years from now.

The 8 megapixel camera was right on the money. Fortunately, Apple didn’t stop there. Better optics, a much improved backside illuminated sensor, and a bump up to 1080p video are all very welcome changes. All this on top of the amazing photo software in the App Store, and the iPhone 4S is the best consumer point and shoot camera you can get your hands on.

Denied Rumors

Numerous iPhone cases and anecdotal evidence pointed to a radical new enclosure design for the “iPhone 5” that many people were expecting to see Tuesday. A sleek, smoothly-beveled metal backing certainly could have made for a beautiful phone. The steam that these rumors picked up just goes to show you how much stake people place in the appearance of their handset. I wouldn’t doubt that there are a some prototypes locked up somewhere in the Apple campus that resemble these designs, but people hoping for a visual refresh this time around were disappointed.

Some late breaking rumors suggested Sprint had scored exclusivity on the purported cutting edge next-generation “iPhone 5” model. Reports said they had agreed to purchase millions of the devices, without regard to whether they would be bought by customers, in order to lock in the deal. While Sprint did make the cut as a new carrier for the 4S, the immensity of the deal was clearly overblown.

One of the longer standing rumors has been an iPhone with a larger screen. This seemed to gain some support from the case designs that were floating around. To me this has never been likely. If you don’t think Apple ran some seriously thorough research and development before landing on the 3.5 inch screen of the iPhone, you might have a narrow view of how they operate. Changing the physical size of the screen affects interaction and software design more than many people would realize. Frankly, I would be surprised if we ever see an iPhone with a larger or smaller screen.

Out of Left Field

Apart from rumors, we saw two new apps debut that hadn’t been talked up by the rumor mill. While they aren’t exclusively for the iPhone 4S, they are noteworthy.

Cards is an app that lets you build greeting cards right on your phone using your photos and a number of templates. Apple will print, envelope, address, and ship your card for $2.99. This represents a small subset of Apple’s print offerings available in iPhoto, but it’s a practical app that I’m sure will get good use.

Find My Friends allows you to keep track of where your friends are whether you’re at an airport, a museum, or a party on the beach. They even suggest you could use it to check and see if your kids made it to school. A really simple idea that will definitely come in handy on certain occasions. Important for an app like this, it seems to have very simple and transparent privacy controls.

Certainly from a technological standpoint the iPhone 4S looks like a substantial bump up from the iPhone 4. While many people are disappointed not to see an iPhone 5, let us remember the 3GS. It’s main advantages over the 3G were a better camera, and faster internals. Sound familiar?

Ask anyone who upgraded from a 3G to a 3GS, and you’ll hear nearly universal satisfaction. As of last quarter, the two and a half year old 3GS was still the second best selling handset in the world, only behind the iPhone 4.

I anticipate a similar story with the 4S.

October 5, 2011 at 1:38 pm

@skoda on App.net @technochocolate on App.net