Keynote Disappoints, iPhone 4S Does Not

| Ted Landau's User Friendly View

My initial reaction to this week’s Apple keynote media event was disappointment. Maybe this will change as I have more time to reflect on the event. But that was how I felt immediately after it finished.

This has nothing to do with the iPhone 4S, the major announcement of the day. The new iPhone is a solid and impressive upgrade. I was not disappointed by the new hardware (more on that shortly). True, I had been lulled into believing we would see an iPhone 5 today — together with an iPhone 4S. And, almost by definition, naming a product “4S” instead of “5” suggests that even Apple believes the enhancements are not huge enough to deserve of an upping of the number. Regardless, this was not the source of my disappointment.

My reaction also has has nothing to do with Tim Cook hosting the event. Assuming the script of the event had remained the same, the presence of Steve Jobs would have made no difference.

 

iPhone 4S & Everything Else

 

What was disappointing about the keynote

So, what exactly was disappointing about the keynote event? It’s more about the way things were announced rather than what was announced.

Pacing. Tim Cook and company took almost an hour before mentioning the iPhone 4S. Up until that point, there were no new products of any note. Most of the first hour was spent showcasing how great Apple was doing…from its retail stores to iOS 5. Now, I understand that this event probably has the biggest audience Apple will have all year. It’s the perfect time to flaunt your success. But there’s a limit. Based on my Twitter feed, nearly everyone was complaining of boredom (if they weren’t napping) by the time the big announcements came along. This is not how a keynote should go. It wound up detracting from the major news at the end of the event that, with better pacing, would have been better received.

Burying the news. During that long period of build-up, Apple did announce two new apps: Cards (you can send cards from your iOS device) and Family and Friends (you can locate and track where your friends and relatives are). These were not major announcements, but they were notable. Unfortunately, they were revealed in the middle of a recap coverage of previously announced aspects of iOS 5. As such, it was hard to tell at first that these were new features at all. Apple could have done a better job of highlighting them.

Actually, Apple is still burying the news of these apps. I checked out the three press releases Apple issued today. These new apps are not even mentioned. Nor could I find them on any Apple iOS webpage. Odd. [Update: “Find My Friends” (aka “Family and Friends”) is covered on this Apple webpage.]

iPod touch and iPod nano “updates.” If you’re going to say a product has been updated, you should mean it. The iPod touch update hardly qualified. As far as I could tell, the only thing new about it is that you can now get it in white. It doesn’t benefit from any of the improvements to the hardware in the iPhone 4S. Most disappointing, for a device that Apple touts as a “game machine,” it doesn’t get the iPhone 4S’s dual-core A5 chip. This means (according to what was said at the event) you won’t be able to use the touch to play games that take advantage of the new speed in the A5, such as Infinity Blade II coming in December (the game will only play on the iPhone 4S). This was disappointing news. The touch comes off as the poor step-sister to the iPhone here. Apple could have done better — unless it deliberately wants to inhibit touch sales, pushing users to the iPhone instead. 

Although the iPod nano got what amounts only to a cosmetic upgrade (new larger icons and clock faces), I am fine with that. This is a welcome break from several years of radical redesigns of the nano each year. No other Apple product had seen so much change over this period — to no particular purpose. Nano upgrades had been more of a see-saw ride than a forward push. It was time for the nano to pause and take a deep breath. It did.

Still, Apple might have been better off not even mentioning these updates at the media event. Instead, it could have issued a press release together with updated webpages after the event was over. 

What was right with the keynote

When Apple did finally get around to announcing its big news of the day, it was worth the wait. 

iPhone 4S. Don’t be fooled by the name or the fact that the iPhone 4S looks identical to the iPhone 4. This is a significant upgrade.

For computing devices, speed is almost always the key that unlocks everything else. It’s not so much that faster speed allows you to do the same thing you could before, except in less time. It’s that faster speed allows you to do things you could not do at all previously. That’s what I expect will happen with the dual-core A5 chip inside the iPhone 4S. Infinity Blade II is just the beginning.

One of the most popular functions of any smartphone these days, beyond using it as a phone, is using it as a camera. With an 8 megapixel still camera and 1080p video, the iPhone 4S ups the ante. There’s still no optical zoom (I didn’t really expect this, given the design restrictions of the iPhone), but it otherwise looks to be competitive with all but the best point-and-shoot cameras on the market.

Siri. I’ll reserve final judgement on this new voice feature until I get to test out how well it actually works. But, assuming it works well, Siri will likely go down as the most significant advance in mobile computing this year. Everywhere a keyboard now appears in iOS, you’ll have the option to use a microphone instead. If you can accomplish most text-oriented tasks just by speaking into your phone, as Siri promises, it will revolutionize how you use a smartphone. After all, hassles with typing have been one of the most frequent complaints about smartphones.

Based on watching the videos, Siri is likely to boost use of the earbuds/microphone that come with the iPhone (or a Bluetooth alternative), as voice-activation encourages “hands-free” interaction with the iPhone. 

Note: Apple states that Siri will be beta software when it is released as part of iOS 5 next week. Also, Siri only works with the iPhone 4S. The rest of iOS 5 is compatible with all the iPhone and iPod touch models that will be for sale.

World Phone. The iPhone 4S is a world phone, so “both CDMA and GSM customers can now roam internationally on GSM networks.” This also means you no longer have to choose whether you want an AT&T or a Verizon phone at the time of purchase. You can get one phone and choose your carrier later. Presumably, you can even change carriers without having to purchase new hardware (I am not certain this is how things will work, but it looks like it will). This is huge; you are no longer “locked in” to a carrier. Carriers will have to compete more for your business. Plus, in related welcome news, the iPhone is coming to Sprint. [Update: As pointed out by a reader comment below, the footnotes to the Apple webpage for iPhone 4S specs suggest there are more restrictions to CDMA access than I had thought. Also, contrary to what I wrote, iPhones will be sold with a carrier already assigned. However, you may able to switch carriers later, assuming you are willing to pay any early cancellation fee. There is still uncertainty about this.] 

Pricing. At the top end, there is now a 64GB iPhone 4S for $399. At the bottom end, you can get an iPhone 3GS for free(!) with a two-year contract. This will make it tougher than ever for competitors to outflank the iPhone on price.

So, yes, there is a lot to like about today’s announcements. I only wish Apple had done a better job of communicating this. In the end, it likely won’t matter much. Memories of the keynote presentation will fade and we’ll be left with the realities of the products themselves. As such, the iPhone 4S should do a great job of maintaining, and increasing, the popularity of the Apple’s premiere iOS device.

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Comments

Lee Dronick

One of the most popular functions of any smartphone these days, beyond using it as a phone, is using it as a camera. With an 8 megapixel still camera and 1080p video, the iPhone 4S ups the ante. There?s still no optical zoom (I didn?t really expect this, given the design restrictions of the iPhone), but it otherwise looks to be competitive with all but the best point-and-shoot cameras on the market.

I was looking that the iPhone 4S camera gallery and it looks like there may some sort of digital focus. Check out the gallery at http://www.apple.com/iphone/built-in-apps/camera.html In the photos with close objects they are sharp, but the ones in the background are soft. In the landscape photos the mountains are sharp. This may be something to do with the face detection feature finding things that are close.

Anyway, my iPhone 3GS is going to be come an iPod Touch with a camera and I can take more chances doing my toss photography.

Keith

You are completely missing the point as to why everyone is so angry and insulted by the 4s. Let’s look at each feature: 1-Dual-core processor: This has been in use in the iPad for months and doesn’t distinguish the phone from its competition in any way. Furthermore, when the quad-core chips are released in the coming months, this phone will already be slow in relation to other smart phones. 2-8MP camera: So we are supposed to be excited over apple finally reaching what has become the absolute standard in smart phones? 3- Siri: It takes about 5 seconds to bring up your weather, calendar, etc, this feature will surely be over-hyped and under-used, and that’s assuming it works as its supposed to.

So Apple basically fixes the problems of the iPhone 4 (some 15 months late) and expects us to get excited about that? If that does excite you, as it seems to based on your article, then you should definitely see the new Zune that Microsoft is releasing, you’ll be psyched!

Ted Landau

You are completely missing the point as to why everyone is so angry and insulted by the 4s.

First, I don’t see where “everyone” is angry etc. I see a lot of positive comments and articles on the Web. Not just mine.

Second, I believe this is a solid update. Would I have liked to see something even better…especially after the longer than usual interval from the iPhone 4? Sure. But this is presumably the best Apple can do at this point…and is still better than the competition.

No one is forcing anyone to buy it. If you have an iPhone 4 now and are content with it, great. You just saved yourself a few hundred bucks by not getting a 4S. For the rest, it is an attractive update.

Next year, when Apple presumably releases an iPhone with a “5” in its name, I will expect a bigger leap. Until then, I’m not disappointed by what we have now. Bear in mind that “not disappointed” is not the same as “excited.”

webjprgm

Camera is important. On my recent DC vacation both my wife and I took our point-and-shoot cameras, but out of convenience we left them both in our bags and used only my iPhone for all the vacation photos.  So I’d be tempted to upgrade just for the camera.  I’m not sure I need the speed, but that’s always nice. (And once I see it, then I’ll feel I need it.)

The voice control thing, I’m still waiting to see how well it works.  My experience with iOS 4’s voice control is me fumbling with the home button in the car to get it to accept commands, then telling it to dial.  I still had to look at the device.  Siri will need to be usable without looking at all, and get things done right.

Everywhere a keyboard now appears in iOS, you?ll have the option to use a microphone instead.

So does that mean there’s a new icon in the keyboard, getting in the way of an already small keyboard? I definitely don’t want that.  The keyboard is fine.  But if it’s some double-tap-and-hold dance on the home button, then it will work horribly (not in the least because I’ll end up closing the app most of the time).  Once again, I’m waiting to see how this works.

webjprgm

So we are supposed to be excited over apple finally reaching what has become the absolute standard in smart

The keynote points out that they have much better camera technology. I’m not enough of an expert to know what it all means, just that it is better for light exposure and color quality than a run-of-the-mill 8MP camera.  They’re trying their hardest to make it competitive with point-and-shoot cameras even without optical zoom.

Ted Landau

Apparently, the iPod nano is less “new” than initially realized. Its main new features (larger icons and additional clock faces) can be obtained by a software update to last year’s nano model.

Terrin

By all accounts the iPhone 4S is a significant upgrade. Twice the speed, better camera, voice recognition, improved antennae, etc. Some of the software enhancements like iCloud are going to be huge.

With all that said, I was disappointed. If I am upgrading an almost two year old phone, I do not want to upgrade it for something that looks identical especially if the current phone works fine. I want people to be as excited about my purchase as myself. “Hey, is that the new iPhone?” People will not even know I have a new device.

Further, there is no reason it should have took an extra half year to give us a device that is almost identical to the iPad 2 in terms of components and specs.

In addition, until the larger screen Android Phones came along, I thought the iPhone screen size was great. Now though, I think the size should be increased slightly.

Moreover, Apple didn’t address the pay as you go market at all. I am not paying $649 for an unlocked phone for pay as you go. Apple should have offered an unlocked 3Gs for half that price. I would have bought one for my girlfriend.

Finally, how can Apple not bring T-Mobile on Board? I have a friend going to Sprint from AT&T. I will buy his old iPhone, unlock it, and Apple will loss out on a sale. I am not tying myself to last years design for two years.

Steve

i dont believe apple has got the product that wrong.

Peoples’ expectations have been fueled by all sorts of rumours on the internet.

If apple had delivered a phone which was a. Visually different to iphone 4’ b. Had a bigger screen and c. Had iphone 5 printed on the back, i am not sure we would be having this conversation.

This is a new phone. Improved hardware, 200+ OS improvements and a significant paradigm shift to cloud services. To me that is an achievement, and shouldnt be a disappointment. Does the phone have th x factor? That is to be decided by how many people choose to buy it.

furbies

doing my toss photography

Sir Harry

I really hate to ask this…..

Toss Photography ?

All sorts of images spring to mind, and I’m not sure they’re appropriate….

Steve

Sir harry

The depth of field is effected by the aperture of the camera lens. E.g an f2.8 will blur the bacground when focussing on a near subject. A high f number will increase the depth of field. E.g. Distant and near objects will be in focus -e.g f22.

Lee Dronick

I really hate to ask this?..

Toss Photography ?

Throwing the camera up in the air or moving it very rapidly while it taking a photo to purposely distort the image. It can create some real interesting photos, but you have to be careful to catch it before hits the deck. See some examples of mine.

The depth of field is effected by the aperture of the camera lens. E.g an f2.8 will blur the bacground when focussing on a near subject. A high f number will increase the depth of field. E.g. Distant and near objects will be in focus -e.g f22.

Yes I understand f stops, but I am wondering how the new iPhone 4S camera is focusing on near images.

Lancashire-Witch

Bear in mind that ?not disappointed? is not the same as ?excited.?

Not to worry, Ted. Tim Cook seemed to find it difficult to get excited. You’re right. The event was a disappointment. In fact it was dull and lifeless. It seems they felt it was something they had to do; rather than wanted to do.  No-one revelled in being on stage.

I’m disappointed in the fact that Apple’s focus seems to be total integration of most of the company’s devices and software functions. If I only owned one Apple product (say one iMac or an iPod) I’d feel totally left out.

Peter

But this is presumably the best Apple can do at this point?and is still better than the competition.

I’m not so sure about that.

I’ve always loudly proclaimed that there will be no iPhone 5 this year and that, instead, we’d see an iPhone 4S.  But one thing that had me thinking that I could be wrong is that Android phones are becoming downright fashionable.

Consider the Samsung Galaxy II S.  It’s thinner than the iPhone 4S (8.8mm vs 9.3mm).  It’s lighter than the iPhone 4S (4.3 ounces vs. 4.9 ounces).  It has a bigger screen (4.27” vs 3.5”), though smaller resolution.  Longer standby time (400 hours vs. 200 hours).  It even has a removable battery, which Apple insists is impossible—you can’t make a thin phone with a removable battery.

Consider, also, that Android 4.0 will be out around Thanksgiving and has many of the same features as iOS 5.  The whole “Notification Center” is cribbed from Android 3.0.  Android already has dictation capabilities—even in single-core phones, though Siri looks like it’s upped the bar in regards to voice commands.  I’ll be curious to see if there’s an API for developers to enable Siri information for their applications.

So, from the looks of it, Apple is playing catch-up.  Samsung’s latest hardware is better than Apple’s from a hardware perspective.  iOS 5 comes to par with Android 3.x/Android 4.0.  About the only exciting thing in iOS 5 is Siri (technology which Apple bought—it wasn’t developed in house).

Perhaps now you understand why people are disappointed?

sflocal

Perhaps now you understand why people are disappointed?

Nonsense.  Only the tech community is “disappointed”.  How many times have you guys raise a stink about internal hardware, cpu-cores, RAM, etc.. and how android phones were superior in hardware, only to be proven time-and-time again that “superior hardware” by itself doesn’t mean squat to joe-consumer.

The iPad2 is a screamer no Android tablet can match its performance.  That same hardware is now in the 4s and fantards yet again clamor “but wait till xxx comes out.”.  Whatever.

nickyn

hey Ted, if Apple is serious about pushing the HTML5 video standard (i.e. no Flash on iOS devices), then why do I have to install Quicktime to watch the iPhone 4S keynote? If I can’t watch the keynote on the Open Web, why should I buy their products?

Bosco (Brad Hutchings)

Perhaps now you understand why people are disappointed?

Well, nothing to be disappointed about. Keep buying Macs as long as they’re decent computers that meet your needs and get yourself an Android phone. No shame in that.

geoduck

I’m glad you said it. I completely agree. The iPhone 4S is great but I’m not interested in one. I was interested in updates to the iPod line. For that there is essentially nothing. The rest of the presentation was a big disappointment.

The Nano is the same with an interface tweak, that apparently can be applied to existing units. I don’t have any trouble with the old interface so I won’t bother.
The Touch is the same but in white. Big Fat Hairy Deal. I keep mine in a case so colour is irrelevant.
iOS5 looks good but we’ll see what features actually work on my now underpowered Touch. I suspect without any improvements to the model some will be disabled.
I already know that Siri is a no show for the Touch. Heck they won’t even let it run on older iPhones or even iPod2s. The former kinda surprises me but the latter is IMO a huge omission.

I was really hoping for improvements to the Touch. Better camera. A 80 or 128Gb model to replace the Classic. A speed boost. Tweaks and maybe a couple of sensors so more iPhone Apps can run on it. It should have GPS. But no it is the same unit under the skin, (and for the black one the same skin too) as last year. The only upside is that I’ve had my Nano for nearly a year and my Touch for 6 months so they were not ‘obsoleted’ by todays unveiling. I can’t remember the last time I could go a couple of years without getting ‘new model envy’ after a major announcement.

For these reasons I found the presentation stunningly disappointing. Now I know why they did not hold it in the big hall. I know why they did not invite many people. I know why they did not stream the event. There wasn’t much there. Sure the iPhone4S is great but the rest of the presentation was a yawner.

Nemo

Terrin:  You are talking through you hat.  Siri alone would have taken 18 months to do.  Siri is AI on a smartphone.  That Apple got it done in 18 months, if it lives up to its billing, is rather remarkable, and Siri itself promises to be quite a treat.  So if you need to show something off to your friends, Siri alone may do the trick.

Then there is the dual-mode chips, which I think is from Qualcomm.  That too is quite an achievement.  Apple started working on that chip with Qualcomm more than two years ago.  The trick was reducing the size and power requirement of the dual-mode chip.  Now, I don?t know whether the dual-mode chip is going to be exclusive to Apple or whether Qualcomm is free to sell it to others, but the work that it took to get that chip to fit into the iPhone 4S, with 8 hours of talk time, is also another remarkable engineering achievement and one that I don?t think any other smartphone has today.

Of course, getting the A5 chip down to size and power consumption requirements for an iPhone is no mean feat.

And the new iPhone 4S also promise another major advance in antenna technology which should not only improve reception but reduce power consumption, and I think that it is a patented Apple technology.

Of course, the iPhone 4S?s form factor has not changed, but that is probably because the form factor is optimal for the iPhone 4S?s function.  Of course, Apple could have made something that looked new and maybe even cooler at the expense of working less well, but that has never been Apple?s philosophy of design, at least not under Jony Ive and Steve Jobs.  Ive?s philosophy has always been the idea that form follows function to create a great user?s experience, and dose so, so perfectly that design melts away as a conspicuous ornament.  And I doubt that Tim Cook will change that philosophy of design.

So, for those of us who buy our tech because it impresses us rather than our friends, the iPhone 4S seems to have more than enough to deserve our patronage.  However, even for those who buy their technology to impress others, the iPhone 4S?s subtle and less conspicuous virtues, once revealed, will both still be best in class and should sufficiently impress.

And if the iPhone 4S does not impress someone, you can content yourself with the fact that it does its work better than any other smartphone and does that work with some unique capabilities that make using the iPhone 4S quicker, easier, and more intuitively.

cb50dc

I can take more chances doing my toss photography.

I followed your later link to see those three examples. Very cool!

Paul Goodwin

Ted. Good closing to the article. Yes, the fading memories won’t matter; the phone will. Apple “got” it again:  Marrying an 8 megapixel camera with a snappy phone/interet device with a grea OS. They will sell like popcorn if they’re as good as I’m hearing they are. Yes, other phones have 8MP cameras, but you can by all manner of digital cameras with more megapixels than that and they take lousy pictures. You can take great pictures with a 3 megapixel DSLR because of what the optics are, and the accuracy of the color processing, focusing capability, low light capability, and stabilization. If Apple’s new phone has the optics and color process right, even without a zoom, people will be taking most of their pictures with their phone. And the ones taking them with iPhone 4Ss will number in the millions - if it’s got the WOW photo capability that is being touted.

And as for speed, my iPad is snappy doing everything an iPad needs to do ( as of today anyway) so I don’t see where quad core processors are going to make that much difference in the short term on whatever device we’re talking about. Two to three years out may be a different story. The more powerful processors would have driven up the cost, or driven down the profits, and for what?

The screen, the camera, the OS, the apps. The iPhone is already a great device. Now it’s more. Is it the best? Well…......yeah!  Overall no phone is better.

vpndev

I am intrigued and puzzled with the “world phone” thing.

Ted said “This also means you no longer have to choose whether you want an AT&T or a Verizon phone at the time of purchase. You can get one phone and choose your carrier later.”

But Apple’s site says that is NOT the case. When I looked at the Tech Specs <http://www.apple.com/iphone/specs.html> I found this footnote
“CDMA available only if iPhone 4S is sold and activated for use on a CDMA network.”

Then I looked for an unlocked version of the iPhone 4S but didn’t find it. However, the iPhone 4 page describes an unlocked model (has been available for a while) and says
“The unlocked iPhone includes all the features of iPhone but without a contract commitment. You can activate and use it on the supported GSM wireless network of your choice, such as AT&T in the United States.* The unlocked iPhone 4 or iPhone 4S will not work with CDMA-based carriers such as Verizon Wireless or Sprint. “

Now I know that unlocked iPhone 4 won’t work with Verizon but this page has clearly been updated for today’s announcement, as it mentions both the 4S and Sprint. Is this a scrivener’s error or does the unlock preclude use on GSM plus CDMA ?

nickyn

Is this a scrivener?s error or does the unlock preclude use on GSM plus CDMA ?

dude who cares - just buy the phone and give Apple your money already, that’s all that really matters!!

vpndev

dude who cares - just buy the phone and give Apple your money already

Well, I do care. If it’s a world phone I’ll get one. If it’s crippled then I will stay with iPhone 4. Simple. Already.

Peter

[...] only to be proven time-and-time again that ?superior hardware? by itself doesn?t mean squat to joe-consumer.

More popular doesn’t mean better.  Or, if it does, I guess that means Windows is the best operating system, huh?

Tom

I’ve been an Android user for 3 years now, and have been rooting for Apple to lure me over to their side of the fence. By all accounts, I’m Apple’s perfect target…a convert ready and willing to ditch Android. They had a chance to win me over today and they failed in a monumental way. I’ve had a Droid Incredible with an 8mp camera and a 1Ghz processor for almost 2 years…Also, voice commands/searches and dictation have been embedded in the Adroid OS for just as long. So today’s news at Apple was like “meh”...even though I understand Siri will have more capability, the camera is great and the Dual Core A5 is fast. Android handsets have had dual-core processors and even 1.5Ghz clock speed for several months. Android evolves so much more rapidly because of the multiple manufacturers constantly trying to stay infront of each other…Apple just lops along at it’s current snails pace. Samsung is revealing it’s Nexus Prime handset next week on Oct. 11 (3 days befor the 4s is in stores…coincidence?) and it has the kind of form factors I was hoping the new iPhone would have…check it out: http://www.slashgear.com/google-nexus-prime-renderings-appear-accurate-30184469/
My wife has an iPhone4 and I was hot on an iphone myself just so I could FaceTime with her and my kids when away on work trips, but Android handsets just come out so much faster with better upgrades…it’s hard to let go…kinda like crack.

Ted, iPhones are great and have great design, but are seldom the “best smartphone on the market” from a spec perspective. If the iPhone 4s is the best, it will only remain that way for another 6 days…Nexus Prime will dethrone, as will every HTC and Motorola handset thereafter until the iPhone5 in, what, June? July of ‘12?

Dan

I believe the “boring parts” of the keynote were added for the investors more than anybody else; Tim wants to reassure them of the company’s continuing success under his leadership.

wab95

A sober, and fair assessment, Ted.

Noteworthy, and what I most appreciate, is that you have taken time to disentangle your disappointment with what appears to be the delivery of the message, and perhaps elements of the message itself (e.g. iPod Touch upgrades), from the actual key products, namely the iPhone 4S and iOS 5. Based on some of the comments I have seen around the web and Twitter, I am not so sure everyone has gone through such a mental exercise.

My own take on this, and no, I did not see the keynote - we were asleep in this part of the world - is that there is a precipitous rush to judgement before anyone has laid hands on the device and/or played with the new OS. Most of what I saw reported of ‘desired features’ are actually present in this refresh. Absent, and what appears to be the subject of reported ‘disappointment’ is a new form factor (the rumoured aluminium backing with the thin iPad2/MB Air lateral profile), larger screen size (never mind screen resolution) and the all-important label (“5”).

I will argue here that had Apple delivered these form features, with everything else it has offered with 4S, and called it a ‘5’, critics would have rushed with no less speed in decrying this as a cosmetic upgrade, a sham, a hustle and…you get the gist. Nor do I think such criticism would have been entirely unwarranted. And here is why.

Second, I believe this is a solid update. Would I have liked to see something even better?especially after the longer than usual interval from the iPhone 4? Sure. But this is presumably the best Apple can do at this point?and is still better than the competition.

Not only do I think that you are correct in this assessment, I think that herein lies the explanation behind the release of a 4S and not a 5. Apple know their competitions’ capabilities and offerings, and that they are in a competitive race in the phone market. The counterpoint to that impetus is Apple’s singular commitment to the best user experience they can provide. This latter driver does not exist in isolation, namely that Borg-like spec-space where human behaviour and expectation are irrelevant. It does exist in a wider environment of supportive systems and services. Had Apple released a phone with 4G capability, for example (just one of the criticisms), the paucity of 4G sites in the AT&T network alone (and which 4G technology should they support BTW?), and the inability of those clients to access such services (let’s not even discuss impact on battery life) would have produced howls of protests on the one hand, and mocking jeers on the other. This is merely one example, but it would hardly have made an ideal user experience.

Apple want to sell iPhones, but what will hurt sales more than anything else is compromised user experience. It is what Apple clients have come to expect. And performance and function trump specs in user experience. I believe if Apple could have added more, and those enhancements would have worked as advertised (note already the ominous rumblings that Siri had better work as advertised), they would have done so, in an effort to blow the competition out of the water. I think the 4S likely represents the best user experience Apple could guarantee. The rest would have been suspect, if not premature.

Still, one can ask, why not at least put those other cosmetic touches to this device? I’m in no position to say, but my feeling is that retaining the current form factor with the installed enhancements is truer to the designation of this being a 4S. Why pretend it is anything but an upgraded iPhone 4? In my view, it represents greater truth in marketing.

My suggestion: let’s let people get their hands on the device in the wild. Then, let’s watch the sales figures. And then, let’s talk Apple’s iPhone strategy.

1stplacemacuser

Finally saw the video of the event.  What I took away from the event is not so much the new products and features, but that it was the trial by fire for Cook, Schiller, Forstall, and Cue(?).  It was to see who they worked on the stage and where they need to go next time.  I can pretty much guarantee that they will hire a theater/movie director to help the executives provide a smoother presentation the next time.  There was too much looking at the prompter for where they are, for example.

Yes, these executives have a day-job of making things work.  But they need to become thespians of the first order.  If Kenneth Branagh can do the “St Crispian’s Day” soliloquy as if it came from the heart, so can Cook, Cue, Forstall, and Schiller.  (And Federighi as well:  I saw you sitting there, Craig.)

furbies

Siri might disappoint a few folks:

from: iPhone 4S specs
Siri Languages:
English (US, UK and Australian), French, German

At least, it’s supposed to understand us (Aussies)

Never had much luck with speech recog in the past….

Lee Dronick
wab95

See today?s Joy of Tech comic

Thanks, Sir Harry.

Just as the 3G and the 3GS were quite different beasts in terms of capability and function, despite identical appearances (we had both in our household at one point), I suspect the same will be true of the 4 and the 4S.

skipaq

I have never watched an Apple keynote; so the presentation doesn’t mean much to me. For tech journalists and others it sounds like it was a let down.

As for what was announced; it was fairly much what was expected unless you hang on every prediction and leak that comes. I have an iPhone 4 and won’t be upgrading. My wife has a 3gs and will be getting the 4s in about a week. This new phone is perfect as an upgrade for her and has everything that she is interested in.

We live in a part of the country that will be lucky to get 4G wireless in five to ten years if at all. My contract runs to next spring and I expect to upgrade at that time. This will likely be after Apple releases the iPhone 5 and even if it is 4G wireless that won’t be the deciding factor. The feature that interests me is Siri. As far as the design of the phone goes; I’d be happy if they kept the 4s design. I expect that won’t happen; so I hope the new design isn’t bigger.

Terrin

I am not sure why you say I talking out my hat. I said the iPhone 4S is a significant upgrade. I also think Siri integration looks very promising, but it is hard to judge that without trying it out.

My only real disappointment is the vanity angle. I wanted it to look different. After reading up a bit though, I understand why Apple probably didn’t release the iPhone 5.

Some experts are suggesting currently LTE phones have to have two separate chips, which increase battery drain, and presents other issues such as needing more more room in the casing. Supposedly, that will change in early 2012. That was what Tim Cook was talking about when he said Apple would have to make too many design compromises to bring a LTE capable phone. I think the rumors of an iPhone 5 are probably correct, it is just the public has the timing off.

I think people buying this phones will be getting a great device.

Terrin:? You are talking through you hat.?

Lee Dronick

My only real disappointment is the vanity angle. I wanted it to look different.

Well that is easy enough, start wearing a derby hat or something that makes you standout. smile

Seriously many people put their iPhone in a case and there area a lot of options there. Or customize your phone’s desktop graphic.

Nemo

My only real disappointment is the vanity angle. I wanted it to look different. After reading up a bit though, I understand why Apple probably didn?t release the iPhone 5.

You want the iPhone 4S to look different, even if its form factor is optimal for the iPhone 4S’s functions?  Apple is a great design company, but design first-and-foremost serves the function of Apple’s devices, including the iPhone, so that they function in a way the provides not only a good to great user’s experience but the best possible user’s experience.  Or to put it another way, Jony Ive doesn’t start with a piece of paper or a CAD screen and says boys let’s make something that looks cool and cooler than the current model.  He and his team, along with the engineers, start with what an Apple device, here the iPhone 4S, must do to work at least well; after that they, design to make the iPhone 4S to look good while it is doing everything that it is designed to do. 

Aesthetics are important, but aesthetics follow and are dictated by function, following the teaching of Horatio Greenough:  Form follows function.  If the form is already optima for the function, you don’t change it; indeed, you can?t change it without function suffering.  However, where new functions and/or new technologies present new creative possibilities, then design can not only change, it must change to full exploit new functions or new ways of performing existing functions, and that is when Ive changes the design of an Apple product, when the design in no longer optimal for its functions, one of which is too look elegant.

I suspect that after reviewing the available and practical state of the art of technology and the new functions of the iPhone 4S, Ive concluded that it could not be made any better, and so he left it as it is.  If Ive has been correct in his judgment, then the iPhone 4S, should not be changed, for any change would result in a worse smartphone.

Perhaps, new technologies and/or new functions of the iPhone 5 will present new design possibilities, but if not, it too should be left alone.

Nemo

Dear wab95:  I concur with your comment regarding 4G.  That technology isn’t ready yet.  Many of the Andorid OEMs, which only care about sales, are using the poorly defined and insufficiently deployed 4G, LTE and/or WiMax, as product differentiation for the unsophisticated to sell them a technology that will serve many of them poorly, in that it will be unavailable and when it is available it will cause their device to have unacceptably short battery life.

The dual-mode chip, for example, in the iPhone 4S took years for Apple to get right, though it seems an instant success.  Two years ago, Apple could have made a dual-mode smartphone that looked like a carton of milk and weighed about as much, but it didn’t.  It waited until it and Qualcomm could make dual-mode technology ready for the design parameters of a modern smartphone.

So too with 4G and a lot of the technologies that critics complain aren’t in the iPhone 4S:  They are simply not ready.  But when it comes to developing those technologies into something that is both elegant and practical for a modern smartphone, Apple, among smartphone OEMs, is almost unique in spending the money to do the research to develop those technologies to a practical state of readiness.  And when those technologies are ready, Apple will deploy them, and they will quite likely require an iPhone that looks different, so that all, especially those who equate novelty with excellence, will be happy.  But Apple will not ship a new technology before its time.

These critics are quite a group.  I’ve no doubt that they would have been among the group—and many probably were—that, in 2000, advised Apple to abandon OS X, instead license Windows, and start making Windows PCs.  Sometimes, you just have to let the peanut gallery squawk, grunt, and groom each other.

anon

anyone care to tackle this one? I thought Apple was supporting the Open Web - why not just use HTML5 video?

hey Ted, if Apple is serious about pushing the HTML5 video standard (i.e. no Flash on iOS devices), then why do I have to install Quicktime to watch the iPhone 4S keynote? If I can?t watch the keynote on the Open Web, why should I buy their products?

Nemo

Dear anon:  One’ buys Apple’s product because they are great products that are the best in class.  And that reason will do for the vast majority of people.  However, if you won’t buy Apple’s product, because Apple, like Microsoft and Google, insist, when practical, on using its own technologies to announce its major news, I submit that you have some other agenda, one which Apple can’t serve and won’t suffer from by ignoring.

Lee Dronick

anyone care to tackle this one? I thought Apple was supporting the Open Web - why not just use HTML5 video?

nickyn said:

hey Ted, if Apple is serious about pushing the HTML5 video standard (i.e. no Flash on iOS devices), then why do I have to install Quicktime to watch the iPhone 4S keynote? If I can?t watch the keynote on the Open Web, why should I buy their products?

Only Apple can answer that.

Now I have a question, why wasn’t QuickTime already installed on the nickyn’s computer.

Bosco (Brad Hutchings)

Actually Sir Harry, if you’re running Chrome or Firefox on a Mac as your primary browser, their default is to ask you each time if you want to run the QuickTime plugin. Remember all that bad stuff Steve Jobs once said about browser plugins?

mrmwebmax

+

I for one am glad the form factor didn’t change. I had a 3G, and upgraded to a 4 when the 4 was released. I love the form factor, and have yet to see a phone that IMHO matches it. It just feels right. Yes, Android phones have larger screens, but they all look big and clunky to me.

The 4S seems like an impressive upgrade, although I’ll stick with my 4 for now, as it does everything I want. (I’m not big into voice recognition, so Siri isn’t that great a draw. That said, does anyone realize that there’s a Siri app out there? I installed it on my 4 a week or so ago, just out of curiosity.) And as for processing power, my game of choice is Angry Birds, and I’ve got plenty of power for that.

So I’ll wait for the 5, and hope they don’t change the form factor much, if at all. Or somehow improve on the 4, which won’t be easy as far as I’m concerned.

Jamie

I think the 4S looks pretty cool, I plan on getting one, I’m due for an upgrade. 

People seem to forget that excitement in the press or blogosphere (or market. Their stock always dips when they release something new, it’s a puzzle, that) about any of Apple’s more recent products has been retroactive - the 3GS was mocked, the iPad was mocked (it’s name was mocked mercilessly), the iPad 2 was greeted with a big, ‘Meh.’, heard ‘round the world.

We are also quick to forget that in this day and age functionality is extended through software more than ever before. The 4S is very solid hardware, and I have no doubt that between future iOS updates and App Store developers, this is going to be one sweet phone. smile Can’t wait to get mine.

mrmwebmax

+

Jamie, you make some very good points about how Apple product announcements are mocked. My favorite has to go back a decade or so, though. Back then, when Apple was still “beleaguered,” there were a lot more Apple fan sites. Two of my favorites (both now, sadly, gone) were CARS (Crazy Apple Rumors Site) and AtAT (As the Apple Turns). I was a huge fan of AtAT, and remember when it covered a new product announcement. The verdict? “Meh.” Exactly what you said. I even agreed with the assessment, as did most of the press. The product?

The original iPod.

Al

The depth of field is effected by the aperture of the camera lens. E.g an f2.8 will blur the bacground when focussing on a near subject. A high f number will increase the depth of field. E.g. Distant and near objects will be in focus -e.g f22.

That might not be the full explanation for Sir Harry’s question. There is another factor in depth of field, and it is distance to subject. If you have two photos shot at the same aperture, the photo where the subject is far away will have quite a lot of depth of field, like landscapes, while the photo where the subject is very close will have narrow depth of field, like the flowers.

The f/2.4 on the 4GS lens will help create narrow depth of field, but the flower/ocean sample Apple showed is not a clear example of this because simply putting the camera close to a subject near its minimum focus distance would also narrow the depth of field considerably. You do not need any type of auto focusing system to achieve this. It would work on a manual camera with no electronics.

What I would expect is that if you took the same photo with a 4G and 3GS and put the three photos side by side, the 4GS should have a somewhat narrower depth of field due to its larger aperture. But all three might have narrow depth of field anyway, due to the very close distance to subject.

Also, Steve, if the camera is flooded with bright sunlight as in the ocean photo, the iPhone (lacking manual aperture control) would likely stop down its aperture, not open up. If so, that means the narrow depth of field would only be because of subject to distance, and not wide aperture at all.

ibuck

I already have the Siri app on my iPod Touch 4G. “What’s the weather?, Find a Restaurant”, etc works. However, I got this message when I tried to use it today…

“I’ve been replaced! The new Siri is even smarter and better looking than me, and waiting for you on the iPhone 4S. I’ll be leaving home Oct 15th.
Until then…how can I help you?”

So it appears Apple will disable my existing app…because, what..it doesn’t measure up?

geoduck

I already have the Siri app on my iPod Touch 4G.

I did not know there was a Siri App for the iPT. However if they kill it on the 15th…..

Why make it iPhone4S only? That would be nuts.

Lee Dronick

I did not know there was a Siri App for the iPT. However if they kill it on the 15th?..

I just checked and couldn’t find it in the iTunes Store

archimedes

OK, so I’m sort of in the “what exactly have they been doing for the last 16 months anyway?” camp.

But maybe I’m just unhappy to be stuck in the wrong part of the 2-year upgrade cycle, with the incremental “speed bump” upgrades rather than the redesigns.

On the other hand, the 3GS and 4S fix the problems with the redesigned models, so maybe the incremental upgrade zone isn’t such a bad place to be!!

archimedes

You know, the MacBook Pro has essentially had the same industrial design since it was introduced. For that matter, it has the same design of the Aluminum PowerBook G4 that preceded it, and that wasn’t too different from the PowerBook G4 Titanium!!

Similarly, the iMac has had its current design for years as well. The iPod Classic and Touch haven’t really changed external design much since their introduction. And don’t ask me about that Mac Pro…

The point being - keeping the external design the same for years and incrementally upgrading the interior may be odd in the handset world, but it seems to be par for the course for Apple. Maybe we should get used to it.

Lee Dronick

The point being - keeping the external design the same for years and incrementally upgrading the interior may be odd in the handset world, but it seems to be par for the course for Apple. Maybe we should get used to it.

“We” the people may have been conditioned to new models every year by the auto industry. At least those of use grew up in the ‘50s and ‘60s when the unveiling of the new car models was like a Steve keynote. However, the new autobody may have just been covering the same engine and drivetrain. The 4G/LTE system is not yet widely deployed, I think that the iPhone 5 will debut about the time that system has spread out. At least a year from now.

furbies

Imagine if Evolution was like the mobile phone makers and each new generation had to look radically different from their predecessors on the outside.

Evolution:
“Ok, the last one had the ears near the top on the sides. How’s about we stick the ears on somewhere near the middle just for the heck of it ?”

The Universe:
“Ok. It’ll be something new to tout to the consumers, but what about the problems in the last model ?”

Evolution:
“Ok, so the last model had problems.
The consumers won’t care if we haven’t fixed them yet, as long as it looks different!”

Evolution does seem to have the right idea. Do the odd tweak on the exterior where needed, but concentrate on the innards. They’re what really count.

wab95

These critics are quite a group.? I?ve no doubt that they would have been among the group?and many probably were?that, in 2000, advised Apple to abandon OS X, instead license Windows, and start making Windows PCs.? Sometimes, you just have to let the peanut gallery squawk, grunt, and groom each other.


Nemo:

I’m inclined to agree with you that critics can often seem more simian then sensible when it comes to their objections, and like true nocturnal naysayers, disappear under a dense canopy of dissimulation when their objections and prophecies beach upon the shores of cold hard ground truth.

For all the carping about the iPhone 4S, sales at AT&T alone in the first 12 hours have been record breaking, leaving the vendor predicting this to be the most successful iPhone launch ever. I raise my tea glass in salute to ‘disappointment’ (no reference to Ted - his analysis was spot on). Cheers.

 

People seem to forget that excitement in the press or blogosphere (or market. Their stock always dips when they release something new, it?s a puzzle, that) about any of Apple?s more recent products has been retroactive - the 3GS was mocked, the iPad was mocked (it?s name was mocked mercilessly), the iPad 2 was greeted with a big, ?Meh.?, heard ?round the world.

Jaime:
I made just these points in my original post above, but then deleted them before posting, thinking that my post was already long, and that these might detract from my main theme, but these are not only excellent points, but important reminders of history, which the citation above from Macrumours about AT&T sales only underscores. Thank you for making them.

Hagen

When I looked at the Tech Specs <http://www.apple.com/iphone/specs.html> I found this footnote
?CDMA available only if iPhone 4S is sold and activated for use on a CDMA network.?
Is this a scrivener?s error or does the unlock preclude use on GSM plus CDMA ?

I believe it’s a setup problem.  GSM phones handle accounts and setup through the SIM card, so it’s easy to put an account on a phone or transfer it, even if the phone is not on hand.  In comparison CDMA has to do the setup on the phone itself. When you purchase a Verizon or Sprint phone, they configure the phone before they hand it to you… Apple included.  I don’t think it’s possible for the user to do this setup.

So the only way to get Sprint, Verizon, or other CDMA networks onto your iPhone 4S after the fact will be to take it into their stores, and they’ll probably only do it if they can sign you to a new service contract.

vpndev

So the only way to get Sprint, Verizon, or other CDMA networks onto your iPhone 4S after the fact will be to take it into their stores, and they?ll probably only do it if they can sign you to a new service contract.

Thanks for the info. Then what about the third-party and pre-paid providers such as Virgin etc. I think some of those are CDMA (I know that GoPhone is not, as it’s part of AT&T).

Hagen

Then what about the third-party and pre-paid providers such as Virgin etc. I think some of those are CDMA

A very good question. I suppose MVNOs will have their own practices around it. I imagine that’s something that will work out as more of the companies define their processes concerning the new phone.

ibuck

wab95 wrote:  For all the carping about the iPhone 4S, sales at AT&T alone in the first 12 hours have been record breaking, leaving the vendor predicting this to be the most successful iPhone launch ever.

I hear that pre-orders for the 4S have sold out worldwide. Barring an overall market down-trend, watch for AAPL to jump 10-20 points or more this coming week.

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