Here's a summary of what happened today during Apple's iPhone event, with links you can follow to more in-depth coverage. You can check out Apple's keynote for yourself if you like, but our summary will probably go a lot quicker for you.
Apple announces the iPhone 4S: The top story for today, Apple's next-gen iPhone is an all-internal upgrade that looks externally identical to the iPhone 4. The handset will be available for pre-order on October 7, and it launches in the US and a few other countries on October 14. As virtually everyone expected, the iPhone 4S will launch on Sprint in addition to AT&T and Verizon. Evidence on Apple's site suggests unlocked models will be available, but pricing info for contract-free handsets isn't available yet. The iPhone 4S has a faster A5 processor with much-improved graphics performance, improved battery and wireless performance, and a vastly improved 8 megapixel camera. Exclusive to the iPhone 4S is Siri, a new and powerful voice interface. Speaking of which...
Apple (re)introduces Siri as iPhone voice control assistant for iPhone 4S: By far the biggest new feature announced today, Siri looks like it will revolutionize voice control on the iPhone. Siri is able to understand natural language inquiries and quickly look up information, generate appointments and text messages, and even take dictation. You may never need to type on your iPhone again. Reportedly the existing Siri app will go dark on October 15, so the service will definitely be exclusive to Apple's newest iPhone after that.
iOS 5 available October 12: The iOS 5 "gold master" seed was released today to developers, and it will be available to everyone else on October 12. iOS 5 will be a free download that will run on the iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4, and iPhone 4S; all models of iPad; and the third- and fourth-generation iPod touch. Apple's free replacement for MobileMe, iCloud, is also going live to everyone on October 12. Meanwhile, the App Store is now officially welcoming apps compatible with iOS 5.
Apple refreshes iPod touch lineup with new colors: With the only apparent changes being a new white model and a price drop for the entry-level model, the iPod touch received only a very modest update today. No mention was made of the iPod touch being updated with the A5 processor, which marks the first time the line hasn't kept pace with the iPhone's processor.
Apple refreshes iPod nano, lowers price: The iPod nano also received a very modest update; aside from new clock faces, integrated fitness functions, a slightly revamped UI, and a price drop, the nano is largely the same as last year's model. The new UI and clock faces appear to be available to 2010 model iPod nanos via a software update, so if you have last year's model already there doesn't appear to be any reason to upgrade.
8 GB iPhone 3GS now free with contract, iPhone 4 price dropped: You can now pick up Apple's two-year-old iPhone 3GS for free if you sign up for a two-year contract. That may sound like a great deal, but by 2013 the iPhone 3GS is probably going to seem like it's a UNIVAC. You're better off spending the extra $99 to get an iPhone 4 instead; it's the same capacity, but with a much-improved processor, Retina Display, and a far better camera. Sure, the iPhone 3GS is free, but in our opinion you get what you pay for with that model.
Other new services and products:
- Apple announced a Find My Friends app that will work via iCloud, which should make stalking locating your friends much easier -- no more "I'm over by the thing, next to the other thing" directions.
- Another new app that had us alternately scratching our heads and cracking jokes: Cards will enable you to send photos to Apple, which it will then turn into postcards and mail out for you for a modest fee.
- To comply with EU standards, Apple will release a dock connector to micro USB adapter on October 14. Available on Apple's online UK store, it's relatively inexpensive at only £8.
- The sequel to Chair's hugely popular Infinity Blade will be released December 1. Infinity Blade 2 demonstrated the hugely improved graphical performance of the iPhone 4S -- I can't wait to see how this looks in person.
- Apple's largest store in Asia had over 100,000 visitors in its opening weekend.
- OS X Lion has sold 6 million copies since its July 20 debut, 80 percent more than Snow Leopard.
- The iPhone 4 accounts for half of all iPhone sales, ever, and iPhones now account for 5 percent of worldwide handsets -- not just smartphones, all phones.
- iPads are "showing up everywhere," including 80 percent of US hospitals and 92 percent of Fortune 500 companies.
- Despite arguably stagnant features over the past couple years, the iPod still accounts for 70 percent of the portable music player market, and iTunes is the number one music store.
- The App Store has served more than 18 billion app downloads, with more than 500,000 total apps and 140,000 iPad-specific apps.
To be honest, with the exception of Siri there doesn't seem to be much new and exciting coming out of Apple's event today. The iPhone 4S is, as the name implies, an iterative update to the (admittedly hugely successful) iPhone 4, while the iPod lineup has seen only very modest updates. Given Apple's massive success as of late, the company can afford to rest on its laurels for awhile -- but not for too long.