UPDATE: Apple has just released New Zealand pricing for what will become the "old" iPhone models.
iPhone 4 (whose memory will be chopped back to 8GB) will cost $899 (the 16GB model was recently selling for $1099).
iPhone 3GS (recently $899) falls to $599.
Apple confirmed there was no timetable or pricing for a New Zealand release of the iPhone 4S at this point.
In a statement, the company said one of the iPhone 4S' signature features, the "Siri" voice command personal assistant, will be localised for the US, UK and Australia, with no mention of New Zealand.
Asked to clarify the situation for New Zealand, Vispi Bhopti from Apple's Sydney office (the company's nearest direct presence), told NBR: "Siri is a beta [trial] product that is shipping in the countries that iPhone 4S is shipping. Beyond this, we have no further details."
iTunes Match will be US-only.
iCloud will be available for New Zealand customers to download from October 13.
The service will come with 5GB of free online storage for mail, document storage and backup.
Purchased music, apps and the Photostream syncing service will not count against the storage limit.
Additional storage, via iCloud.com, will cost:
10GB: $NZ25 a year
50GB: $NZ50 a year
100GB: $NZ125 a year
The software required to set up iCloud will be a free download to iPhone, iPad or iPod touch users running iOS 5 or a Mac running OS X Lion with a valid Apple ID.
iTunes in the Cloud may be used on up to 10 devices with the same Apple ID.
Using iCloud with a PC requires Windows Vista or Windows 7; Outlook 2010 or 2007 is recommended for accessing contacts and calendars.
The ability to backup purchased TV shows will be available to US users only.
ABOVE: The iPhone 4S is identical on the outside to the iPhone 4. Inside, there's gruntier hardware, a better camera, and a heavy emphaisis on new voice command features.
Investors were underwhelmed. Apple shares [NAS:AAPL] fell 4.81% in after-hours trading. Som where many gadget fans. Applause at the event was at times muted, according to live accounts from attendees.
"I had my sleeping bag ready to camp outside the Apple store. It's back in the cupboard now," was the verdict of one NBR reader (see more in Comments below). Social media chatter often struck a similar note.
There was no "iPhone 5" with a thinner form factor and larger display - a move some anticipated as big-screen Androids like the Samsung Galaxy S II encroach on Apple's smartphone market share.
Instead, the iPhone 4S has an identical exterior as its predecessor. That's bad news for Apple show-offs who like to "badge" the fact they've got the latest model.
But inside there's faster hardware, a better camera and a heavy emphasis on new voice commands.
The US, UK and Australia will be among the first wave of countries to get the new iPhone on October 14. No date was given for New Zealand, although Apple (which has yet to respond to a request for comment) is featuring the 4S on its NZ website.
A key question will be how the expanded voice command feature copes with the Kiwi accent. Digital dictation software created by middle Americans is notoriously temperamental with New Zilund short vowels (at least, unless you give it hours of training). But your correspondent has found the limited voice commands on the current iPhone (e.g. "Call Andrea") work reasonably well.
One attendee blogged during the launch event demo that while the voice commands worked, iOS chief Scott Forstall "has to talk to the machine slowly, like you would to a child or a foreign language speaker."
The iPhone 4 will remain, in a model with memory chopped back to 8GB. The iPhone 3GS will also remain in Apple's lineup.
Apple also previewed iOS 5, iCloud, and iTunes Match, three new software and online initiatives that centre around storing music, movies and other files on the internet, then streaming them to many devices. The initial iCloud launch will be US-only.
ABOVE: The iPhone 4S' camera is boosted to 8 megapixels - matching the resolution of high-end Androids like Samsung's Galaxy SII. Apple also touts a new image stabiliser, the ability to shoot full 1080p video (a bump up the HD food chain from the iPhone 4's 720p), and new on-phone photo editing features. The company also claims the iPhone 4S is faster to take its first photo than most Androids.
- Released Oct 14 (US, Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Japan, UK); NZ not in first wave
- Same exterior design as iPhone 4 but inside "all new"
- 16/32/64GB models (iPhone 4: 16GB/32GB)
- A5 dual-core processor - the same chip at the heart of the iPad2 (iPhone 4: single core)
- 7 x faster graphics
- Claims battery life boosted for 9 hours wi-fi browsing, 8 hours 3G talk time (iPhone 4: 7 hours), 10 hours video, 40 hours music
- 8 megapixel camera (iPhone 4: 5 megapixel)
- Claims new camera captures 73% more light, 33% faster, says Apple is going after the point-and-shoot camera market
- Full high definition (1080p HD) video recording (iPhone 4: 720p)
- Video image stabilisation
- HSPA+ support for download speeds of up to 14.4Mbit/s (more than twice iPhone 4 theoretical maximum); Vodafone 3G and Telecom XTs support HSPA+
- Speech-to-text built-in. Any app with a virtual keyboard can now translate your voice into text
- All new external metal antenna design (presumably eliminating the call degredation/dropped call issues that plagued the external antenna that debuted with the iPhone 4)
- Enhanced voice commands. On stage iOS chief Scott Forstall asks an iPhone 4S, "Do I need a raincoat today?" The phone replies, "It sure looks like rain today," and shows the weather screen again.. He also asks, "What time is it in Paris?" The phone replies with the time in Paris and shows a clock.
- Scott Forstall also uses voice-commands to search for a restaurant, make an appointment and set an alarm - "Wake me up at 6am."
- But one blogger notes: "Scott has to talk to the machine slowly, like you would to a child or a foreign language speaker"
- Commentators immediately ask the question: how will it handle non-US accents (hopefully well; the iPhone 4's basic voice commands today - e.g. "Call Chris" - are pretty good at coping with a New Zilund accent, as is their Android equivalent)
- The heavy emphasis on voice commands is courtesy of Apple's acquisition of Siri, which doubles as the name of the phone's voice-command driven "personal assistant"
- A hookup with Wolfram Alpha lets you ask Siri calculation or geneneral knowledge questions, HAL 9000 style
ABOVE: US iPhone 4S carrier pricing (NZ yet to be announced). The iPhone 4, with memory chopped back to 8GB, will sell for $US99 and the iPhone 3GS no money up-front on a two-year contract.
iOS 5 key features
- The new version of the operating system software for iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch will be available as a free download from October 15
- Adds tabbed browsing
- "Deeply" ntegrates Twitter into many iOS apps, including Photos
- Camera now accessible from lock screen; red-eye reduction added; photo editing functions
- Mail, calendar, txt notifications displayed on LockScreen
- Newsstand feature makes publications from selected (US-centric) partners easier to read
- New side-to-side swipe gesture for iPad multitasking
- Works with iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4, iPhone 4S, iPad 1 and iPad 2, iPod Touch 3rd & 4th generation
- October 12 launch (US)
- Works with iPhone 3GS or later model
- Music purchased on one device will be downloaded to all your iOS devices (e.g. iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad)
- Previously purchased music (or TV shows) can be accessed by any iOS device
- Photostream. photos taken by one device will be pushed to all other iOS devices, as well as iPhoto on your computer
- Find My Friends feature for locating iOS-device toting friends on a map
- Find My Phone feature for locating your iOS device on a map
- 5GB online storage free; 10GB - $US20/year; 20GB - $US40; 50GB - $US100
- End of October launch (US)
- Scans and matches songs in your library; only has to upload any tracks not already iin Apple's 20 million-strong libary
- Songs available immediately for streaming to any iOS device
- Asked if iTunes Match would "legitimise" illegally copied tracks, an Apple spokeswoman told NBR, "The iTunes Match service verifies which songs have been purchased previously in iTunes and matches the remaining songs to the 18 million [now 20 million] songs in the iTunes Store. The small percentage of unmatched music is then uploaded. We cannot determine beyond this what may have been ripped from CDs or purchased from somewhere other than iTunes."
After making no concessions to youth culture in his choice of pre-event music (The Rolling Stones "Under My Thumb", Led Zeppelin's "When the Levee Breaks"), Tim Cook took the stage.
His immediate focus was on the iPod.
Mr Cook said Apple's music player had 78% market share.The company has sold 300 million iPods in the past 10 years; 45 million in the year to June.
iPhone 4, released 15 months ago, has accounted for half of all iPhone sales (the first iPhone was launched in 2007).
There are now 250 million devices runing Apple's iOS software, which powers iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch, Mr Cook said.
iPad holds 74% share in the tablet market (see the latest local shipment stats read Android tablets surge across Australia-NZ - and set to steal more iPad share).
The Apple CEO then yielded the stage iOS Scott Forstall, who unleashed a blizzard of slides purporting to show iOS was ahead of Android in market share by various metrics (Google may be flattered by the focus on its mobile OS).
Mr Forstall said 18 billion iOS apps have been downloaded; 1 billion are downloaded a month.
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