Apple Announces the iPhone 4S: Notes and Interesting Facts About the New iPhone

Apple’s fifth-generation iPhone has been announced, and it’s the iPhone 4S, a device that looks exactly like the iPhone 4, but with substantially updated internal hardware and over 200 new software features. Some are disappointed that the rumors of a sleek, wedged-shaped design didn’t come true—ie, disappointed that the iPhone doesn’t suddenly look like the Lamborghini of smartphones—but in reality, there’s a lot of change coming in the iPhone 4S. But is there enough to lure iPhone 4 customers into an early upgrade? I know I’m likely to.

Here’s probably the best succinct look at the new phone and the features announced yesterday, from Apple:

Below are brief notes and interesting facts and links concerning the announcements from yesterday:

  • Prepare to stay up late this Friday, October 7, as preorders for the iPhone 4S start at 3:00 AM Eastern, 2:00 AM Central, and 12:00 AM Pacific. Looks like the West Coasters won’t be losing as much sleep as the rest of us.
  • The new Siri feature takes the iPhone’s voice control to a new level. But is Apple playing catchup to Google’s Voice Actions that have been available on Android phones for about a year now? Or have they blown right past them? Or does the general public even care about speech recognition features? I have my doubts about speech recognition in general, and while the original Siri app was cool (before Apple bought the company), it was hardly perfect, I never used it regularly.
  • Siri has roots in technology built for the US military.
  • TUAW has a thorough list of the commands Siri is capable of comprehending.
  • Apple will shut down the old Siri app with the launch of the iPhone 4S.
  • Siri means “buttocks” in Japanese, no kidding.
  • Plan on upgrading? MacRumors claims an app called AT&T Upgrader will tell you if qualify for a subsidized price. It hasn’t appeared in the App Store as of this writing.
  • The 4S is getting an upgrade to Bluetooth 4.0 hardware, which supports the new low-power Bluetooth spec.
  • Find My Friends was another new feature introduced yesterday. It allows people to temporarily share their location and movements with others. The WSJ noted the feature’s similarity to the coolness that is the Glympse app.
  • The new Cards app seems like a niche thing. Isn’t the foreign postmark on a postcard part of the charm? It won’t be as exciting to receive a postcard about a Paris vacation with a Cupertino, CA, postmark on it. With Cards, it’ll cost $2.99 to send a postcard anywhere within the US, $4.99 to send outside the US. Apple has previously offered photo albums, calendars, and cards for its iPhoto app, so this isn’t much of a stretch. I can also remember Apple bragging about the quality of their printers. If anyone has that video, send me the link.
  • Is Apple going to sell an unlocked iPhone 4S? Their site seems to suggest so.
  • Want to know how Apple Store employees will pitch the new iPhone 4S to you? 9to5Mac got a hold of the secret internal docs.
  • From a geek’s point of view, the iPhone 4S’s new antenna system sounds cool. It essentially creates a backup antenna in case one is being blocked by your hand or other object. MacRumors talked to an antenna expert about it. The whole phony Antennagate thing seems to have produced something positive.
  • In terms of hardware, the iPhone 4S trails behind the Samsung Galaxy S II in a lot of categories. But the smart money knows there’s more to a phone than a faster processor and larger screen, don’t we?
  • Looks like our UK friends across the pond are getting a new iPhone adapter that accepts micro USB.
  • Apple is now selling insurance for the iPhone to cover accidental damage. The “insurance” is an upgraded version of AppleCare. It’s a $99 a year service, and you’ll get 2 repairs from accidental damage. Each repair will cost you a $49 service fee, however, so don’t go thinking you can use your iPhone as a hockey puck and not pay for it.
  • The iPhone’s new 8 megapixel camera will perform better in low-light situations. Ars Technica has an interesting article that gets all technical about it. The iPhone 4 had a camera that performed well above expectations, and this new one is going to take things up a notch.
  • Apple will pay you $200 for your old iPhone 4 if it’s in good condition. This could really help convince people to upgrade.

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