Apple relying on camera, Siri voice commands to sell iPhone 4S

Apple relying on camera, Siri voice commands to sell iPhone 4S

Summary: The iPhone 4S claims to be different, but much of it still feels the same except for two areas: the camera and voice recognition.

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TOPICS: Apple
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Apple introduced the iPhone 4S on Tuesday, and thanks to all the countless rumors and leaks, it turns out there weren't many surprises.

Phil Schiller, senior vice president of worldwide product marketing at Apple, stepped up to introduce the next generation of the iOS smartphone in place of former CEO Steve Jobs and even current CEO Tim Cook. That alone couldn't have been an easy job, nor was it easy to introduce what some are calling Apple's biggest blunder in years. That's certainly saying something for a company that hasn't made many missteps in the last decade or so.

Nevertheless, there are two bright spots that were highlighted at Tuesday's event -- likely because they're the only two features that Apple can rely on to sell this device.

Those would be the rear camera and the Siri voice recognition technology. First, here's a rundown on the standout specs on each of these features.

Rear Camera:

  • 8-megapixel, backside illuminated CMOS sensor
  • 3,264 x 2,448 resolution
  • 60 percent more pixels
  • Snaps photos a third quicker than its predecessor
  • Apple-designed Image Signal Processor (enables face detection and 26 percent better white balance)
  • 1080p HD video recording
  • Advanced hybrid infrared filter to keep out IR light and produce more accurate colors
  • Larger f/2.4 aperture lets in more light for brighter photos

Siri Voice Commands:

  • Users can use their voices to send emails and text messages, schedule meetings, place phone calls and more productivity tasks
  • Automatically uses Location Services to find where you live, where you work, and where you are for better responses
  • Uses nearly all of the built-in apps on the iPhone 4S to answer queries
  • Dictation also works with third-party apps (i.e. Facebook)
  • Understands and talks back like an actual human being rather than a robot (or droid?)

Apple took time to compare itself to its competitors when it came to the camera, although the voice commands (if they work as well as the demo) are arguably better than anything we've seen on that from as well -- even if it is only in beta testing mode still.

For example, Apple is promising pretty much instant shooting (within a second) with the iPhone 4S, compared to two seconds on the Samsung Galaxy S II, 2.1 seconds on the HTC Sensation, and a whopping 3.7 seconds on the Motorola Droid Bionic. That might not seem like much of a difference on paper -- although three seconds to shoot a photo with a point-and-shoot really is an eternity these days.

Also, usually my concern with cameras is usually focused on quality of the photographs over the speed (although the two can go hand-in-hand, but that's a separate discussion).

Nevertheless, smartphone photography brings along a new set of priorities, and speed is chief among them. For the most part, smartphone cameras are for shooting on-the-go moments more than anything else. And granted how stellar the rear camera on the iPhone 4S seems to be, then Apple really does outshine the competition, at least on this front.

Sure, there are some other advancements, such as the inclusion of the A5 dual-core processor as seen in the iPad 2 and the improved graphics. But those items aren't enough to sell the iPhone 4S when so many other advanced devices are coming out with Android. (CNET's live webcast hosts repeatedly pointed towards Google's Nexus Prime as a looming threat...unless, of course, it gets delayed and/or is just as much of a letdown as the iPhone 4S is for some consumers and tech insiders.)

Apple could also be relying on the release of iOS 5 and iCloud as incentives for the iPhone 4S as well, but both of those items will also be supported by the iPhone 4 and 3GS. So 3GS owners don't necessarily need to upgrade if that's what they're looking for.

So, unless you really care about having 16GB or more of internal memory (which is totally fair considering apps and video content), and/or you love the camera and Siri software, you could save a lot of money by going for the iPhone 4 at $99 on contract or even the 3GS, which is completely free on contract.

And Apple was smart to retain the Retina Display and the same glass exterior from the iPhone 4. That design is simply gorgeous. MacBooks and iMacs don't go through as many drastic exterior design changes from one version to the next, so perhaps the iPhone shouldn't be much different.undefined

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Topic: Apple

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26 comments
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  • It was almost more a software event

    IOS, Siri, iCloud, etc. Yes, the phone was bumped up with faster proc, camera, but Apple sells experience and software. Tech geeks looking at specs first are missing the point of what Apple is selling.
    gtvr
    • RE: Apple relying on camera, Siri voice commands to sell iPhone 4S

      @gtvr You're 100% correct - the Fandroids and Apple haters will spout off all week long about the iPhone 4S specs versus one of the hundreds of Android phones out on the market but what you won't hear them talk about is the great ecosystem that supports those Android phones. You know why - they don't have one. That's why they have no clue on what Apple is actually selling and why consumers are buying. Oh - I'll go ahead and supply the answer for them - we're all "sheeple"!
      jamboy34
      • RE: Apple relying on camera, Siri voice commands to sell iPhone 4S

        @jamboy34
        I won't talk about Android, been there done that, but I will talk about my Windows Phone which has an even better ecosystem than Apple and also has better voice recognition and Siri may put it on par with Windows Phone, but thats a high bar to meet. I would keep my eyes out for Windows Phone and not Android. No one is paying attention while Microsoft is raising the bar across the whole industry which is a pretty amazing thing considering where they were a few years back. May not be in steller sales, but people in the industry are paying attention and you will see alot try to mimic it.
        OhTheHumanity
      • You are missing it...

        @jamboy34 <br>Aside from the "fans" there is a real big group of folks that are looking for specific things from a smartphone.<br>* 4" or bigger screen<br>* 4G or LTE<br>* Good camera<br>* Easy to use<br><br>We may or not be carrier dependant.<br>The 4S only provides 2 of the 4<br>Latest Androids provide 3 or 4 of these<br>Latest WP7+ provide 3 or 4 of these<br><br>4 months from now the demands will be even greater.<br><img border="0" src="http://www.cnet.com/i/mb/emoticons/plain.gif" alt="plain">
        rhonin
        • End result

          @rhonin
          Having an i4 with my contract up for renewal, the 4S does not entice me to stay with Apple.
          That leaves WP7.5 or Android as options.
          rhonin
      • RE: Apple relying on camera, Siri voice commands to sell iPhone 4S

        @OhTheHumanity "No one is paying attention while Microsoft is raising the bar across the whole industry which is a pretty amazing thing..."

        You're right--it <I>is</I> amazing that no-one is paying attention, least of all those ignorant customers who aren't buying it. What a surprise they'll get when they wake up one morning to find Windows Phone is king of the world, when they never bought any!
        ldo17
    • I prefer to keep my money in my pocket.....

      @gtvr
      ....instead of an "ecosystem"!
      kd5auq
      • So do I. That is the key of the Eco system

        @kd5auq

        I don't diddle for hours, loosing valuable billing time, trying to get things to work. Android is great for people that think tearing apart the car and rebuilding the engine is a great weekend pastime.
        Bruizer
  • RE: Apple relying on camera, Siri voice commands to sell iPhone 4S

    Considering my Blackberry Bold from a year or two ago can go from home screen to picture taking in less than 2 seconds ... so? That's hardly a big "wow". Than again, large megapixel photos on a phone don't do it for me anyway. As an engineer I take pictures of problems with my BB and email them all the time and the photos work fine on this older and obviously lower technology camera. Maybe I'm a photo snob, but when I really want to take pictures I pull out the $3000+ of camera equipment I own and start shooting. I certainly don't reach for a phone no matter how good people think it might be. It is ok for those moments when you don't have the gear, but I'm not looking for an awesome camera in a phone. Adequate is more than ok and considering most phone photos I see are pictures of people posing ... the extra 0.5 seconds or 1 second isn't a big deal.

    The voice thing doesn't really wow me either. This sort of thing has been going on for years and I don't see the point. I pull out my BB and in one click I'm scrolling through the line items on my schedule for the next week. I don't need to say anything to make that happen. One click. Also, some of the gimmicky stuff is just downright pathetic. Saying into the phone to remember to do X before leaving Y location? First, most people won't bother to set all the locations for the GPS to track. People don't go through setup procedures typically. Second, if you really have that poor a memory that you need your phone to remind you of every damned thing .... you're in trouble. A device is not going to fix it.
    Ididar
    • RE: Apple relying on camera, Siri voice commands to sell iPhone 4S

      @Ididar
      I use the voice commands in the car for texting on my HTC Surround. Other than that, they are pretty slow and useless.
      kstap
    • RE: Apple relying on camera, Siri voice commands to sell iPhone 4S

      @Ididar So, I have a GII 4G from Sprint, and I can tell you 2 sec is a nonsense. It shoots the picture right when you point and click. What are they talking about?
      pupkin_z
    • Yep photo snob

      @Ididar

      Since 3K will barely get a decent DSLR yet alone lenses, that is a good definition.

      While the 400mm f/2.8 IS is capable of some stunning images (especially at 10fps) beyond any cell phone, the iPhone 4 camera never ceases to amaze me on its IQ.

      As any good photographer will tell you, the best camera is the one with you when you need it.
      Bruizer
  • RE: Apple relying on camera, Siri voice commands to sell iPhone 4S

    Nokia N8's camera is better still and has faster shooting times 0.5 sec, and much bigger sensor 1/1.8 compared to the Iphone's 1/3.2 whis is ridiculously small (regular point and shoot sensor is 1/2.3)
    a6186978
  • RE: Apple relying on camera, Siri voice commands to sell iPhone 4S

    I hope Apple isn't relying on the camera and Siri. I don't know of anyone who buys a phone based on the camera it has. They only use the camera to take some candid snapshot and upload it to facebook, nothing you'd need high quality for.

    Then Siri relies on WolframAlpha, so you better hope they aren't going out of business any time soon.
    LoverockDavidson_-24231404894599612871915491754222
    • There are times....

      @LoverockDavidson_
      Wife has been in a couple of accidents (was the recipient) and having a higher def camera on her phone helped.
      That however, is not a driving force for her to buy a particular phone (she just got the Infuse).
      rhonin
    • RE: Apple relying on camera, Siri voice commands to sell iPhone 4S

      @LoverockDavidson_ I definitely need I high quality camera. People have forgotten that there is a newer processor (which definitely is not a big jump but only about x1, even still). There is twice the amount of RAM being 1GB so that's worth jumping up and down about. I look for a quality camera when picking out a phone, but of course the phone must be decent. I take loads of pictures for my job and defy carrying a camera and a phone.

      Now you've met one. This article is a load of crap as it doesn't mention the other shiners.
      R0tt3n
    • RE: Apple relying on camera, Siri voice commands to sell iPhone 4S

      @LoverockDavidson_ I do...

      The 4s is much better CPU and RAM than this article claims.. LOL
      R0tt3n
  • I was really hoping

    That this would be the iPhone that would finally convince me I needed to get an iPhone. But, it did not accomplish this task. It really does not do much more than my 16 month old Droid2Global. <br><br>I have an 5mp camera on my phone that takes great pictures and has burst mode to take many in just a second or 2. I have never missed a shot because I had to wait for the camera app. I hear "you took that with your phone, wow" all the time. Sure the new iPhoine camera is better, but so are many other phones out there too. It was Not enough to pull me in.<br><br>I have Google voice (for over a year) which works quite well and does everything I would ever want to do via voice commands. I use it to do texts & email, call people, look up things on the web, go to places on Google Navigator, launch apps, post on Facebook and Twitter .....Siri is cool, but not revolutionary enough to make me want to buy a new phone because of it.<br><br>I have a 3.7" screen that is bright & clear. I can watch Netflix movies on demand, all my Dish Network shows, load DVD's on it to watch any time. I have Amazon Cloud and Google Docs for my cloud services, all free. The iPhoine can do most of this too & does have a better screen, but it's screen is too small. Needed to be at least 4 minimum to sway me.<br><br>My phone is a world phone that I can use when I travel to other parts of the globe. iPhone is not revolutionary there.<br><br>I have a 32gb SD card and 8 gigs of internal storage. If I need more, I just grab another SD card, but so far this has been more than enough. So a 64gig iPhone is not really a big deal to me.<br><br>My phone is a mobile hot spot & works great for that.<br><br>My next phone has to be 4G. I ahve a 4G hotspot from Verizon & man is 4GLTE FAST! no way I am "upgrading" my phone without that! Why would you lock into a 2 year contract now & not get a 4G device. If the iPhone is a flagship device, then it should absolutely have 4G!<br><br>I just did not see anything about this new iPhone that sucked me in, that gave me a "wow factor". Guess I will just have to wait for the next iPhone. In the mean time, there are some great Android & WP7 devices out there and releasing very soon to choose from.
    tgschmidt
  • Siri.... hmmmm.... Offspring of Ping?

    Having played with voice commands, while nice, have minimal use in the current day and age - more situational.
    I see this an an off-shoot of such things as Facetime and Ping - while nice, don't drive users to flock to a specific model. For me, most of those times would be when I am out and about; hence no wifi.

    Think Apple missed the boat on this one....
    rhonin
  • RE: Apple relying on camera, Siri voice commands to sell iPhone 4S

    Ain't gonna happen. Although, knowing the iCabal, it might. That crowd is always eager to throw money at Apple for the smallest of updates.
    The one and only, Cylon Centurion