Kamis, 06 Oktober 2011

Speed, Speech and Signal: The New iPhone's New Tricks


iPhone users who opt to upgrade to the newly announced 4S model will see plenty of improvements, not the least of which is Siri, Apple's new voice-controlled personal assistant system. The phone also packs a better processor, new wireless capabilities and an improved camera. However, all this may not be enough for some users to want to take the leap.
Buyers of Apple's (Nasdaq: AAPL) new iPhone 4S will be able to do more with the latest version of the smartphone, and they'll be able to do it faster.

The new iPhone, which will be available in black or white models when it ships on Oct. 14, has a new, peppy A5 dual core-processor that provides twice the performance of its predecessor in the iPhone 4 and seven times the graphics muscle.

While a 2x bump in performance is nothing to ignore, it may not be big enough for many users to notice. The 7x increase in graphics, though, is an improvement that should be apparent to all users, but especially those who favor apps that push the phone's graphics chops.

Those improvements in graphics performance will complement the phone's new camera. It now supports eight megapixels of resolution, sports a sensor that promises to provide richer colors and better low light performance, and has a better lens for sharper pictures.

Taken together, those improvements not only give a shutterbug the tools for capturing better images, but also the ability to print those images on a larger scale -- as large as eight by 10 inches, according to Apple.

Shooters will also find it easier to keep everyone's mug in group portraits in focus and properly exposed. That's because the 4S's camera has a facial recognition feature that can recognize as many as 10 faces in a frame.

Videographers will also find their experience improved with the new iPhone model. The mobile now supports 1080p HD video and image stabilization to dampen the effects of camera shake when shooting moving pictures.
Intelligent Speech Recognition

Many iPhone 4S owners will find themselves interacting with the mobile differently from the way they did in the past. That's because the handset is sporting a new speech recognition system called "Siri."

Siri not only understands speech, but it's smart enough to answer questions. So before a user walks out the door in the morning, they don't need to check the Weather Channel on their phone. They can ask Siri, "Do I need a raincoat today?"

If they're going to make an overseas phone call, they don't have to check a time app. They can ask Siri, "What time is it in Paris?" Or if they've a yen for pizza in a city they're visiting, they can ask Siri to find the pie parlors close to their current location.

Owners of the new iPhone should experience better reception too, thanks to a new antenna system. Apple claims the system will approach 4G download speeds -- 14.4 Mbps. And they'll be able to talk longer, too: eight hours on 3G connections and 16 hours at 2G.
Emboldened Competitors

While iPhone 4S promises users a better and more productive experience, will they buy the pitch?

Performance and productivity improvements are a tough sell to upgraders, according to Michael Morgan, a mobile devices analyst with ABI Research.

"Usually it's a little tough to sell on these things," he told MacNewsWorld. "They have a low 'wow' factor. That could be a sticky wicket for Apple this time around.

"It will deliver a meaningful improvement," he said of the new iPhone, "but it's the type of improvement you wouldn't necessarily recognize until you've used the device for a couple of weeks or month or so."

There's plenty in the 4S to attract upgraders and new buyers, according to Michael Gartenberg, an analyst with the Gartner (NYSE: IT) Group.

"There's a whole new level of functionality in the device, mostly because of the A5 processor," he told MacNewsWorld.

Not only are there performance benefits from the new processor, but it opens the door for developers to build new and better applications for the device, he explained.

"This might have been an evolutionary design, but there are a lot of revolutionary features in it," he added.

Nevertheless, Apple will have to surmount the yawns coming from many quarters about this iPhone upgrade and other negatives, such as a slide in its stock price on news of the product's introduction, to make the 4S a bestseller, something it has shown in the past that it is fully capable of doing.

"This was a severe mess. I don't recall a miss like this during the Steve Jobs' tenure," Rob Enderle, president and principal analyst of the Enderle Group, told MacNewsWorld.

"This is going to give the Android folks and the Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT) folks a huge amount of confidence that they can move against Apple because it makes Apple look weak," he added.
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