Apple Unveils New iPhone 4S, Siri Assistant, iPod Nano, Gives iOS 5 Release Date, More

At an event held this morning at Apple’s Cupertino campus, newly minted Apple CEO Tim Cook unveiled what many were expecting: a brand new iPhone. Dubbed the iPhone 4S, the device is cosmetically very similar to the current iPhone 4 but features a host of internal improvements which may appease fans eagerly awaiting an iPhone refresh.

In addition, Cook announced the release data for iOS 5, the software that powers Apple’s lineup of devices including the iPhone and iPad, as well as updated iPods with price cuts and an intelligent assistant, dubbed Siri, which enables user to verbally interact with their iOS devices.

Here’s the highlights of today’s event:

• Apple made the iPhone 4S official. It features the same Retina Display but features Apple’s dual-core A5 processor and a dual-core graphics chip.

• The iPhone 4S battery can provide 8 hours of 3G talk time, 6 hours of browsing time on 3G and 9 on Wi-Fi, 10 hours of video playback or 40 hours of music playback.

• Apple has redesigned the iPhone 4S antenna to switch between two antenna to send and receive. Hopefully how you hold the device won’t matter now.

• The iPhone 4S features HSPA+ 14.4 support, though Apple isn’t branding it as “4G.” It’s also a world phone, so one device will support CDMA and GSM/WCDMA networks around the globe. That means it will work on AT&T, Verizon and Sprint networks in the U.S.

• The iPhone 4S has an 8-megapixel camera instead of the 5-megapixel sensor from the iPhone 4. It also features a backlight mechanism that gets 73% more light to the sensor, and the shutter is 33% faster. The new camera supports full HD 1080p video recording with real-time noise reduction and image stabilization.

• The iPhone 4S will launch on October 14th with pre-orders starting on the 7th.

• The 16GB version will cost $199, the 32Gb version will cost $299 and a third 64GB model will run $399.

• Initial availability will be for the U.S., U.K., Canada, Australia, France, Germany and Japan. Additional countries will launch on October 28th.

• Apple’s iOS 5 will launch to the public on October 12th as a free update.

• Apple also unveiled a new iCloud-related service called Family and Friends that lets you locate other iOS users. Users can designate blocks of time during which their locations will be shared, and there will be robust privacy controls to ensure security.

• iCloud and iTunes Match ($24.99/year) will also launch to the public on October 12th.

• Apple opened several new Apple Store retail locations recently — in Shanghai, more than 100,000 people visited the company’s new store on opening day alone. At the Hong Kong opening, they sold more Macs on day-one than any other store in the world.

• So far, 6 million copies of OS X Lion have been sold — 80% more than Snow Leopard.

• The MacBook Air and iMac are the best-selling notebook and desktop models in the U.S. Mac sales outgrew PC sales by six times.

• Mac’s installed base now sits at 58 million — Apple’s PC market share now sits at 23% according to The NPD Group.

• The iPod launched 10 years ago, and now over 300 million iPods have been sold. Apple sold 45 million iPods between June 2010 and June 2011 alone.

• iTunes is now home to 20 million songs and it has served more than 16 billion song downloads.

• The iPhone 4 accounts for more than half of Apple’s total iPhone sales to date — it’s the No. 1 smartphone in the world with a 5% market share of all cell phones (not smartphones, cell phones).

• iPad customers satisfaction sits at 95% according to Tim Cook. 80% of the top hospitals in the U.S. use iPads and Cook also pointed out the device’s popularity in the educations sector. 92% of Fortune 500 companies have deployed iPads in some capacity.

• More than 250 million iOS devices have been sold at this point. IOS’s installed base share now sits at 43% compared to Android’s 33% according to Apple.

• Apple’s iOS App Store is now home to more than 500,000 apps, including 140,000 iPad apps.

• 1 billion apps are now downloaded from the App Store each month, and Apple has paid out more than $3 billion to developers.

• iOS 5 has been seeded to more than 100,000 developers and it includes 200 new features including new notifications, Newsstand and plenty more.

• Apple unveiled a new Cards app for iOS, which allows users to design cards that Apple will print and mail. It will launch on October 12th and cost $2.99 in the U.S. and $4.99 elsewhere.

• Game Center now has 67 million registered users.

• Apple’s iPod nano has been updated with multitouch support and new fitness features. There are also 16 new clock faces in the clocks app for watch accessories.

• The iPod nano is now $149 for the 16GB model and just $129 for the 8GB version.

• The iPod touch — Apple’s most popular iPod ever — now starts at just $199 for the 8GB model. The 16GB version is $299 and the 64GB version is $399. It’s also now available in white, as rumored.

• Apple’s Siri service allows users to speak naturally and ask questions of their device that Siri will then respond to. For example, “What is the weather like today?” will yield an on-screen forecast in the weather app. “What is the hourly forecast?” will drill down to a per-hour forecast. “What time is it in Paris?” will result in an audio response and the world clock will come up. Etc.

• Another great Siri feature: text-to-speech. Following a simple command, Siri can read emails or text messages aloud to the user.

• Siri also features peech-to-text. The user can dictate a message to Siri, and the iPhone can then send it via email or SMS, for example.

• Siri also adapts to the user’s voice and habits, growing better as it is used more. The service will support English, French and German to start.

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