Category: iPhone 4S

Stuff.TV, CNET, and Others Demo Siri on the iPhone 4S (Updated)

It looks like got their hands on an iPhone 4S a little early and ran Siri through some tests. The video doesn’t show much of anything new, but it does reveal that Siri’s British computer voice sounds much better than the American English one. I’ll be switching over to British English in the Settings menu for sure.

*Update* MacRumors says the video above was recorded at Apple’s event last week. The site points out that even though the reviewer is tapping the microphone button to end speech recognition, it’s not necessary, as Siri will recognize the end pause. The site also linked to the video below, which shows off Siri and a few other iOS features.

CNET also has a video demoing Siri. Nothing much new here either except that it appears to show that iOS 5 can notify you with an alert when your are leaving a location.

And here’s an epic look at Siri by Jason Snell at MacWorld:

Upgrading to iPhone 4S? AT&T Will End Your Old Text Messaging Plan *Updated*

*Update* An AT&T representative has said that customers can keep grandfathered texting plans if they call AT&T immediately after ordering the iPhone 4S.

Customers ordering the new iPhone 4S are running into a nasty little surprise from AT&T. AT&T is forcing customers with grandfathered texting plans (the now defunct plans of $5 for 200 messages, $10 for 1000 messages) to choose between AT&T’s two new plans:

  • $0.20 per message
  • $20 for unlimited messages

AT&T introduced their new text messaging plans in August 2011 in a move they called “streamlining” at the time, although some feel AT&T is making a money grab in response to Apple’s new iMessage feature. iMessage will allow free text messaging between iPhones and other iOS devices.

There were also some reports of AT&T and Verizon ending grandfathered-in unlimited data plans (AT&T and Verizon no longer offer unlimited data plans) of iPhone 4S customers, but that doesn’t appear to be their official stance. For example, I am an AT&T customer with a grandfathered-in unlimited data plan, and I was allowed to keep my plan in the buying process on (screenshot seen below). Some websites are suggesting to use Apple’s site instead of AT&T’s and Verizon’s to avoid the problem.

I was allowed to keep my grandfathered-in unlimited data plan.

iPhone 4S: Does HSPA+ Mean You Should Go With AT&T?

Coverage map from AT&T. 4G = HSPA+.

With no LTE radio inside the iPhone 4S, it is not a true 4G phone, but it does support AT&T’s faster HSPA+ network. With the only HSPA+ network in the US carrying the iPhone (sorry, T-Mobile), AT&T seemingly has the advantage over Verizon and Sprint in luring in new iPhone 4S customers. So if AT&T has the fastest data network for the iPhone, does that mean you should buy an AT&T iPhone 4S? If average download speed is your only factor, then yes; but unfortunately a good experience with a wireless carrier is more complicated than that.

Yes, the HSPA+ radio in the iPhone 4S is theoretically capable of downloading data twice as fast as the iPhone 4’s HSPA radio. HSPA+ speeds top out at 14.4 Mbps compared with 7.2 Mbps of HSPA. However, real-world speeds are never as fast as advertised.

Buying any smartphone is like buying real estate, it’s all about location. In the case of smartphones, network coverage should be what you start with. Or more precisely, network coverage in the areas where you’ll be spending most of your time, like home and work.

Unfortunately, AT&T’s network coverage for HSPA+ is sparse in the US, although it does appear to be about equal to Verizon’s LTE coverage. This means most people in the US, at least for now, won’t be able to take advantage of faster HSPA+ speeds, even assuming AT&T is up to the task of offering those faster download speeds—no sure thing in itself. AT&T’s official stance is that HSPA+ can offer 4G-like speeds “when combined with enhanced backhaul,” in other words, bigger data pipes.

AT&T’s coverage map can be found here on their official website. You can zoom in on your area to see if it’s covered by 4G (which stands for HSPA+ on the map).

*Update* Here’s a list of AT&T’s HSPA+ markets. This is a list cobbled together from press reports, so it may be incomplete. Please check the coverage map link above to check your area:

– San Francisco (including north to Santa Rosa)
– Los Angeles
– San Diego
– Sacramento
– Bakersfield, CA
– Modesto, CA
– Chicago
– Dallas/Fort Worth
– San Antonio
– Austin
– Boston
– Providence, R.I.
– Houston
– Charlotte, N.C.
– Buffalo, N.Y.
– Puerto Rico
– Baltimore
– Jacksonville
– Tampa
– Minneapolis/St. Paul, Minn.
– Hartford, Conn.
– Syracuse, N.Y.
– Greater New York City
– Southern New England
– Eastern Pennsylvania
– St. Louis, Mo.
– Kansas City
– “Michigan”
– Anchorage, Ak

iPhone 4S: How to Check If You Qualify for Subsidized Pricing

Want to check if you qualify for subsidized pricing for the iPhone 4S? Apple offers an easy online tool here on their website. Both Verizon and AT&T customers can use that link.

My subsidized pricing doesn’t kick in until November 19, that’s approximately 16 months after I bought the iPhone 4, which I pre-ordered and received on the day it became available in stores. Others may qualify earlier, as AT&T supposedly weighs in how much money you spend per month on text messaging and voice and data plans. I have the $30 unlimited data plan (grandfathered in), a $45 voice plan, and pay for unlimited texts.

A screenshot of my subsidy eligibility is below:

My iPhone 4S subsidized pricing kicks in November 19.

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.

Dubious iPhone 4GS Images Posted on Chinese Social Network

UPDATED: Article updated to reflect there are several different sources of photos. More photos added to article.

Several users on the Chinese social network Weibo have posted images of what they claim to be iPhone 4S prototypes. The images, however, offer scant evidence to back up his claims other than the curious software the iPhone is running.

iPhone 4GS prototype

The photos show a device that is identical to the current iPhone 4 in every way except one, it appears to be running Apple’s special diagnostic software used in factories to quality test iPhone hardware. When run, the software confirms that the iPhone’s various features are working properly (bluetooth, Wifi, the accelerometer, etc). The diagnostic software has been found on previous iPhones before and is not limited to use on prototype devices. The video below shows similar diagnostic software running on a first-gen iPhone:
Continue reading…

iPhone 5 Enters Final Testing Stage

The rumored iPhone 5 with slightly larger, edge-to-edge screen.

Website 9to5Mac is citing a “previously accurate Apple source” in stating that the iPhone 5 has entered the final testing stage before it’s approved for mass production and release in the fall of this year. In April 2011, Reuters cited sources in claiming the next iPhone would go into production in July, then go on sale in September. Reuters also claimed the iPhone 5 would come with a faster processor, likely Apple’s A5 chip that is in the iPad 2, which 9to5Mac confirms.

9to5Mac also discovered hidden references for two new models of iPhone in the recently released iOS 5 SDK. The two new models were labeled “N94” and “N93.” Apple previously labeled the original iPhone 4 “N90” and the Verizon CDMA version “N92.” The use of two models instead of one is a bit of mystery in itself, as Apple had been rumored to be combining the separate GSM (AT&T) and CDMA (Verizon) iPhones into one using a new universal chipset. Could the second model be the smaller, cheaper iPhone that the Wall Street Journal reported back in February?

Digging around some more inside the SDK, 9to5Mac also discovered that the next iPhone will keep the same 5-megapixel camera sensor as the current iPhone. Previous rumors had the iPhone 5 receiving an upgraded 8 megapixel camera.

Steve Jobs to Introduce Next Gen iPhone Software and iCloud Service at WWDC

Apple today announced they will be revealing iOS 5, the next generation of software for the iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch, along with iCloud, Apple’s upcoming cloud service, The new software will be announced on Monday, June 6, at 10:00 am PT during the keynote of its Worldwide Developers Conference. CEO Steve Jobs will deliver the keynote and will be joined onstage by a team of Apple executives. Apple will also introduce Lion, the next version of its OSX software for Macs.

Apple’s press release serves as the first official confirmation of iCloud, a service that is rumored to let users stream their iTunes music library from a server without having to upload each song. Instead, Apple will scan user’s iTunes library to confirm ownership of music, then allow for high-quality streaming of that music. The lack of the need to upload gigabytes of music to online “lockers” is what will differentiate iCloud from similar announced services, Amazon’s Cloud Player and Google’s Music Beta.

One rumored feature of Apple’s iOS 5 is a new deeply integrated voice command interface that stems from Apple’s acquisition last year of Siri, a voice-commanded personal assistant service (and awesome iPhone app). The new interface could allow users to launch and close apps and input text inside of apps without the need for use of the touchscreen.

Other rumored features for iOS 5 include a redesigned notifications system and widgets, according to sources speaking to Techcrunch.

The announcement of iOS 5 at this time of year seems to confirm that the next iPhone will arrive in the fall. Apple has previously announced the next-generation of iPhone software several months before the release of new iPhone hardware in order to give developers time to plan for and get acquainted with the new OS. For example, iOS4 was announced in April 2010, with the iPhone 4 arriving a few months later on June 24, 2010.