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Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Apple Releases New Greeting Card App, iPhone

Posted by Anthony Hecht on Tue, Oct 4, 2011 at 1:46 PM

After roughly half an hour of the usual "holy shit we've sold a lot of stuff and isn't our stuff awesome?" statistics and info-porn, Apple finally got around to announcing some new stuff this morning.

So, what's new?

Greeting cards! Yes, they really announced their new greeting card app first. Then another 10 minutes of STUFF WE ALREADY KNOW about iOS 5, culminating in the announcement that the new OS will be released next Wednesday, 10/12. Okay.

Then an iCloud feature recap... ZZZzzzzzzzz.... Find My Friends app (sorry, Glympse, you had a not-so-good run, hit the showers).

And then, FINALLY... new iPod Nano! Seriously? Nobody gives a shit.

And then, really finally, the iPhone.

The new phone is the iPhone 4S, which looks just like the iPhone 4, but has a dual-core A5 chip, dual-core graphics, and is "said to be seven times faster than previous iPhones."

The iPhone 4S is also dual-band (GMS and CDMA), which is good news for Verizon customers, who can now use their iPhones overseas. Apple also says the new phone is able to switch between its 2 antennas, supposedly enabling up to a hypothetically impressive 14.4Mbps over 3G. So no fakey "4G", and no LTE.

The camera has been upgraded to a backside-illuminated 8 megapixel sensor, but much more importantly it has all new optics—a new lens, new IR filters, f/2.4 aperture, 5-element lens, and such-and-such. In short, the camera on the iPhone 4 was pretty great, and this one is a lot better. It can also shoot 1080p video with real-time stabilization and noise-reduction. Yow.

And then there's Siri, the voice-recognition feature everyone thought was going to be called Personal Assistant. It's basically a (big) upgrade to the existing Voice Control feature. You hold down the home button and ask a question about the weather or what time it is, and the app shows you the weather or the time. OMG USEFUL.

You can also set alarms ("Wake me up at 6 tomorrow"), find businesses ("Find me a great Thai restaurant") and get directions ("Give me directions to Denny's").

Then it gets impressive.

The demo scenario: You get a text message, you press the button on your headset and say "Read my message." It reads it to you, a colleague asking if you're free for lunch. You then ask if you have anything on your calendar, your phone tells you. You say "Reply I can do lunch on Friday" and it creates a text message and lets you confirm before sending. Then you tell it to create a calendar appointment. Your phone is in your pocket the whole time.

Or how about this one: "Remind me to call my wife when I leave work." The phone creates a reminder and a "geofence" around your work address, so when you leave the area, you get a reminder to call your wife. The phone knows who your wife is.

Siri can also search Wikipedia and tap into Wolfram|Alpha for conversions and computations and take dictation by tapping a new key on the keyboard in any app that accepts text.

Pre-orders for the iPhone 4S start Friday, and the phone will be available on 10/14. Cost is $199 for 16GB, $299 for 32GB, and $399 for 64GB, all requiring carrier contracts of course.

The iPhone 3GS lives on, surprisingly, and will be free (with contract). The iPhone 4 will also remain available and will be $99. This is actually a big deal—an iPhone for any price point, all the way down to free.

Oh, and the iPod touch is also getting an update with a retina display, HD camera, and it comes in white. Hurrah.

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