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iPhone 4S launch: as it happened

Tim Cook
iPhone 5: what new features will Apple’s Tim Cook unveil at the launch event? Photograph: Brendan Mcdermid/Reuters

7.38pm: So that’s it: lights up. Can’t tell if they fell on Cook, Forstall and Schiller like zombies in the Walking Dead.

Then again, why not just call it the iPhone 5? It would be so much simpler. But hey – that’s Apple.

7.34pm: Price: 16,32, 64… “it’s not the best phones in our lineup”… hope rises .. “we also have the other phones, the iPhone 4 and 3GS..” GAAAH.

$199 16GB, $299 32GB, $399 64GB.

14 October confirmed in the US, UK, Canada, Australia, France, Germany, Japan.

“By the end of the year we’re going to broaden to 70 countries and 100 carriers, this will be the fastest rollout we’ve ever had for an iPhone. And that’s the iPhone 4S. Thank you.”

Cook is back. “Pretty incredible isn’t it?” (Crowd of journalists agape like the audience in Springtime for Hitler.) (Then again, we hear that the iPod shuffle and Classic are still available on the Apple Store, so there’s good news for some.)

“When you look at these they’re great and industry-leading, but what sets them apart is how they’re engineered to work so well. Only Apple could make such amazing hardware, software and services and bring them together into this experience. I am so incredibly proud of this company … for bringing this to reality. Thank you very much.”

7.27pm: Scott Forstall has been showing off Siri which also links to Wolfram Alpha – one of the best non-Google search engines in my opinion.

Phil Schiller is back. There’s going to be voice built in which means that “wherever you see a keyboard, you’ll be able to input with voice.” Dictation. Like Google Voice has been offering (though of course the interesting thing is that this doesn’t go through Google, it goes through Apple, so Apple is getting information about what people want to know.)

VIDEO TIME. For the iPhone 4S? So they’re really not doing an iPhone 5? (That’s going to be a bit of a shock. How are people going to know that you’re walking down the street with a new phone if it doesn’t look different? Oh, wait, the point isn’t about that. Remember when phones were just for phone calls and nobody much cared what they looked like?)

(What’s also interesting is that Apple, Google and Microsoft are all converging on voice as a neat way to control your mobile phone; but from what one sees around and about, there aren’t that many people who are yet using it. A big space for someone to grab as a feature, or somewhere that most people simply don’t want to go because it feels a bit weird to talk to your phone, rather than into your phone?)

7.17pm: “Wake me up tomorrow at 6am.” Damn, it did it. Then again, this is in a quiet room. (Then again again, I once saw Bill Gates completely flounder on a voice recognition attempt. Though it was 1999.)

“Find me a Greek restaurant.” Yes, does that too. “I’m blown away by how it understand requests.” (Have they tried it on Scottish accents? Geordie accents? Anyone tried it? It’s an app you can download, or was until about 5pm today.)

7.13pm: Voice is “such a letdown”. “We want to ask a simple question – what is the weather like today, what’s the upcoming forecast… your phone will figure out what you need and get it done..

“That’s a feature we call Siri, it’s an intelligent assistant that gets things done.”

Scott Forstall comes out and shows off how he can ask “what’s the weather like today?”

Ladyvoice thing comes back going to the app for the weather. (Will it have lots of different voices?) He’s starting to look like a weather obsessive. (The ladyvoice sounds like something from a GPS.)

Oh, now a clock question. “What time is it in Paris?” (It doesn’t say “Paris, Texas? Or Paris France?” Shouldn’t it?)

7.11pm: Video! This being HD recorded on the handset.

(Look, after all this if they don’t have an iPhone 5 then people are going to lynch someone. All that just for this?)

Phil Schiller is talking AirPlay, where you can stream music to your TV… and also AirPlay Mirroring where you can see what’s on the iPod (Touch) or whatever on your TV.

“So the new iPhone 4S… entirely new on the inside… dual antennas… it’s a worldphone… twice as fast downloads… camera… 1080p video camera… and of course iOS 5. And of course” (again?) “comes with iCloud. It’s the best iPhone yet.”


“The best feature… is about voice.” NOOO Phil.

7.07pm: Comparing time to take pictures: HTC Sensation takes 2.1s to take the first, 1.3 to get the second; iPhone 4S is 1.1 and 0.5s.

Now he’s going to show you some pictures, so this text-only effort is going to render it well. Oooooh. Wooooow. Ahhhh. Mmmm. SQUIRREL! Sorry.

7.02pm: “Next: a worldphone.” It’s both GSM and CDMA. Works on both. Lot simpler for Apple – one less SKU (stockkeeping unit) to follow.

Camera system: he’s pointing to the Flickr data about the use of iPhones that we linked to this morning (good, Phil, reading Tech Newsbucket, all the sensible people do).

8MP sensor, 60% more pixels than iPhone 4, can gather 73% more light, so faster to take the picture. (Lot of camera wonkery here; Schiller isn’t usually a specs guy, so I’m thinking this is because people who like cameras REALLY REALLY LIKE NUMBERS). It’s f2.4, 30% sharper, and can shoot moose. Well, two of those anyway, you figure it out.

Gasp! He forgot what he should include! Ah, face detection because of the A5 chip. “26% better white balance.” (I’ve never heard Schiller tout so many meaningless specs, honest.)

6.58pm: (He’s still playing the game. iPod Classic to iPod shuffle: “Do you think maybe we’re the One More Thing? That’s it, isn’t it? We’re the One More Thing, right? Steve Jobs will come out and save us?”)

Schiller is back: A5 CPU, 2x faster, 7x graphics better, and battery life now 8 hours talk time on 3G – 14 hours 2g talktime, 6 hours 3G browsing, 9 hours Wi-Fi browsing.

“The wireless system… as you know” (oh yes we know) “the band … ” Yes?

“Can now intelligently switch between the two antennas to send and receive to make even better call quality.”

Also faster: 2x faster downloads. Used to be 5.8Mbps up, 7.2 down; now 14.4up. They’re matching the HSDPA speed that’s touted in 4G phones. “We’re not going to get into the debate about what’s 4G and what’s next..”

Phil Schiller introduces the iPhone 4S Photograph: Paul Sakuma/AP

6.55pm: “Inside it is all-new. A5 chip inside. And to show you here’s the president of Epic Games.” OK, thrilled.

(So you’re thinking OHHH NO IPHONE 4 HAHAHA. Um, Tim Cook still to come back. Thank you.)

He’s playing … Infinity Blade. His aim: to kill the evil Sam-Sung. (Not really.)

6.53pm: “So that’s iPod and the iPod lineup. We love music and we’re going to continue to make the world’s best products.”

(Downstairs in the basement the shuffle and Classic are hammering on the door, but nobody is coming.)

“Now, iPhone.” Yes, Phil, iPhone. “People have been wondering how you follow the iPhone. I’m really proud to tell you about the brand new iPhone 4S.” Ah-ha.

6.50pm: So Phil is talking nano, which comes as a watch: 8GB $129, 16GB $169 (I think) “available today”.

“Next: iPod Touch. Our most popular iPod.” (Somewhere out the back, the iPod Classic and shuffle are waiting for their call, saying “are you sure they wanted us to wait in this room and … where’s the door? Hey, let us out!”)

Schiller talking about how iMessage on the Touch means you can do phone-like functionality “and on Wi-Fi it’s free and unlimited so parents like it”. Games, apps… “it is perfect for this great mobile gaming device.” Aimed at da kidz.

“Now comes with iOS 5 and iCloud… and in black and white.

8GB version: $199 “a key price point”
32GB $299, 64GB $399.

6.45pm: Video time! “How iCloud makes your life easier through the day.”

Looks … well, impressive. Less functional and utilitarian than Google Docs or indeed Windows “in the cloud” adverts.

OK, Phil Schiller is up “to talk about the iPod.” (He’s the guy who came up with the scroll wheel.) Is he going to kill it?

“First, iPod nano.” (On the edge of our seat. He doesn’t seem to have an axe in his belt. (Also: Phil looks thinner than in the past. Fitter thiiner, not ill thinner.)

6.41pm: Oooh, new app: “Find my Friends”. Shows you where your family is. On a map. “I can even see if my son made it to school today.” Interesting. (Soon to be “Find my Stalker”?)

People show up as purple bubbles on the map, which gives it a sort of Wall-E post-apocalyptic feel. You can turn it off though. Free unlimited storage, 5GB of mail, documents and backup. (Is 5GB enough?)

Now talking about iTunes Match, where your iTunes contents can be streamed to your devices. (Streamed only? Or downloads?) “Will be cached intelligently on your device.” Sounds like it’s not a download then. (And our indications are that iTunes Match isn’t coming to the UK, at least not until next year.)

6.36pm: Eddy Cue, the guy who made the iTunes Music Store happen in so many parts of the world, is up now talking about iCloud.

Explains how purchased music just syncs between all your devices. “See the songs you’ve purchased… with a tap of one button you can download them at no additional cost.” Same for TV shows. (Not sure if TV shows in the Cloud is coming to the UK though.)

Camera roll and syncing to the cloud. (But after 30 days if you don’t download there somewhere then it gets zapped. Wonder how many people are going to get bitten by that.)

App developers… documents in the cloud… free update. (It’s not quite getting the excitement level you might hope for just yet, but Tim Cook is probably getting ready to come out juggling chainsaws in a moment.)

6.32pm: iOS 5 recap redux: Game Center will have recommendations. (Shove Ha’penny?)

Safari. Has a new “Reader” button which will reformat the page you’re reading. “Fantastic on the iPhone.” (Something of a catch-up to the Android double-tap when reading, where text is reflowed to fit the screen rather than just to the column size.)

Mail: rich text formatting (blah), searching entire messages (er, Android can do?), and a swipe to the inbox (more for iPad, that one).

And the big one: “PC-free”. (Love the icon for this one: cutting the cord to a PC with scissors.) “You take it out of the box and it’s good to go. And we’ve added the option for wireless updates.”

Nothing about Notifications? Thought that was the thing.

iOS 5 will be available on October 12 next Tuesday. (Very like what they did with iOS 4 which came out a couple of days before the iPhone so that the servers wouldn’t fall over from demand.)

6.28pm: Recap of iOS 5 – notably iMessage, which we might call a BlackBerry Messenger killer, which is pushed to any iOS device, securely encrypted, and so on.

Location-based reminders. (Yes, we recall that – sure to kill your battery by checking GPS all the time.)

Twitter integration: “we have integrated Twitter deeply into the OS.” Integrated into photos – take it and tweet it directly. (All the pictures being used to demonstrate it are, of course, on an iPhone 4 – they haven’t changed since WWDC 2011 in June. Don’t do the reveal too early!)

Newsstand – which lets you find all the subscription newspapers in one place and will download them in the background.

Camera – “making it even better.” A shortcut on the screen to let you bypass the screen lock, or use the volume button. (Isn’t that going to get misused? I keep thinking of burglars/toothbruses/holidays.)

Picture editing on board.. one-tap enhancing..

6.23pm: Forstall: “iOS accounts for 61% of mobile browser usage.” Didn’t get the location. “500,000 apps on the App Store. “140,000 of these are developed specifically for the iPad.”

18bn downloads from the app store; now being downloaded at 1 billion per month. Apple has now paid $3bn to developers. (That means Apple’s taken $1.28bn in its 30% slice.)

He’s talking about “cards” which lets you create a physical card via an app which you can send to someone. What’s he after, the postcard market? It seems really retrograde. Is this Apple looking to revive the postal services somehow?

6.20pm: “92% of the Fortune 500 companies are testing or deploying iPad. This is in less than 18 months. This is unheard of.” (Obviously he’s not going to discuss competitive positions vis-a-vis Windows or Metro.) Oh wait..

“Despite everybody and their brother trying to compete with iPad, three out of four tablets sold in the US is an iPad.” Quotes AllThingsD: “Consumers don’t want tablets, they want iPads.” (Interesting that he called the iPad a tablet there.)

“We have passed the quarter of a billion unit sales mark” – for iOS devices. (Yes, I predicted he’d give you something like that.)

OK, now Scott Forstall, head of iOS, is up.

6.18pm: And so we turn to iPad. Will we get any knocking of Android? Note there wasn’t even a mention of Android (or Windows Phone) in the mentions of mobile phones just now.)

“iPads in schools.. can change how teachers teach and children learn and many educators agree with us. Every state in the US now has an iPad deployment scheme in place.”

(Observation: his voice isn’t as mellifluous as Jobs’s; Cook’s is more of a croak, with a Texan twang. Jobs’s would range up and down the scale, but Cook’s is more direct. It’s less relaxing to listen to.)

6.14pm: iTunes started in April 2003, now has 30m songs, 16bn songs downloaded. “It’s mind-boggling. And that’s our music business, we’re very happy with our music business.”

“Next: iPhone. This may be the reason why the room is full now.” Now: “iPhone 4 has sold almost half of the total iPhones sold.” Gartner 2Q numbers show iPhone 125% growth, smartphones 74% growth. So outpacing the market. (Yes, yes, but what about the third quarter? Any analysts want to kick in?)

Now a big graph of “very satisfied” for different manufacturers – 70% iPhone, next is HTC with 49%.

Notable thing: Cook does his slides in different colours from Jobs. He uses greys and blues, where Jobs was greens and greys and blacks.

More broadly: iPhone is 5% of the whole mobile phone market, of 1.5bn units: “it’s an enormous opportunity for Apple.”

6.12pm: Music: “for us this is iTunes and iPod..” A shot of the 2001 iPod. “It reminded all of us how much we loved music.” (Sort of, but the iPod was the result of an internal study – if the cards had fallen differently it might have been video or photos.)

Cumulative iPod sales over 300m; “it took Sony 30 years to sell 220,000 Walkman cassette players.” OK. “The MP3 player market is a mature market. We sold 45m iPods in the last year ending in June.” (Note he’s giving no numbers for just-past quarter; financial quiet period.) Almost half go to people as their first iPod.

6.08pm: Updates time. OSX Lion. “The reviews have been incredible.” Walt Mossberg of the WSJ is cited. Digital download only, 6m have been downloaded: “this is 80% more than Snow Leopard, our previous release.” (That doesn’t so much to me. Anyone else?)

Measuring installed base: took Windows 7 a total of 20 weeks to reach 10% of installed base; two weeks for Lion. (Um, yeah, smaller base to reach, Tim.)

Now looking at the computers which are “the best we’ve ever shipped”. Well, yes… “iMac and Macbook are best-selling notebook and desktop in the US. Points to Mac growth of 23% over the last four quarters v 4% for the (Windows) PC market.

“We are now approaching 60m users around the world.” That’s about triple what it used to be back in 2000 or so, I think. (Any cites for Steve Jobs and the 20m user numbers?)

6.04pm: Showing stores in China – Nanjing. Largest store in Asia. It’s a bit amazing – 100,000 visitors on the opening weekend. (By comparison in LA they got 100,000 in a month.) “There is amazing momentum here.”

The Hong Kong one is in the airport. Getting the idea that this is going to be pushing the China connection. That’s where the real volume is to be had.

Video already. Tai-chi, baby.

6.01pm: Crowdsource results time… over at the poll. Here’s they’re just starting. Applause of course and it’s Tim Cook: “this is my first product launch since being made CEO.. I’m sure you didn’t know that. It is a pleasure to host you today… I consider it the privilege of a lifetime to have worked here almost 14 years.”

Welcomes folk to the campus: “a sort of second home to some people.” They’re in the town hall where they launched the original iPod 10 years ago.

6.01pm:CA: I’m installed in the Apple Store in Covent Garden, where Apple has gone to a lot of trouble: four-way power adapters at every chair, including Continental adaptors: plenty of European journalists here. Apple, one senses, is treating this as very big indeed.

Latest expectations: Siri, a “virtual personal assistant”, to make some sort of appearance in the new software. As long as it’s not as dire as the “Knowledge Navigator” personal assistant in those way-off Apple imaginings of the future from 1987.

5.53pm: Just in! Among the leading lights at Cupertino is Dick Costolo, chief executive of Twitter, according to his Twitter page. Smartphones running Google’s Android software have stolen a march on iOS with deep Twitter integration – expect Apple to launch a riposte.

5.50pm: Journalists, commentators and plain-old fashionistas are filing into Apple conference halls in Cupertino and Covent Garden, London. Our man on the ground, Charles Arthur, is setting up his stall in central London, while myself (Josh Halliday) and Juliette Garside, the Guardian’s telecoms correspondent, will keep you fully informed from the office.

Mark Mulligan, the former Forrester analyst, is one of the privileged few invited to Apple’s biggest store in Covent Garden. Surprisingly, he reports that it’s a “very intimate sized” event for Apple announcements. Well, certainly, it’s no Cupertino ampitheatre.

5.35pm: Welcome: and is your popcorn popping? It’s iPhone launch time. It seems so long since we were last here.

We know some details already: there’s going to be a new iPhone. Given that at WWDC in June, Steve Jobs described the next version of the software powering the iPhone as “iOS 5”, and since every launch of a new number of iOS has seen a new version of the phone (3G, 3GS, 4 – see Wikipedia), the idea that there won’t be a new iPhone just doesn’t hold any water.

Then there’s the question of whether the crowd has managed to figure this out ahead of time – if you’re reading this before 6pm UK time, then our crowdsourcing experiment is still open (and if you’re reading it later, it’s closed: tick off the results as they come by).

We also know that:
• the phones will be in the UK from 14 October: reserve your place outside the stores now;
• “iTunes in the Cloud” (so you can get your purchased music on any iOS device, without syncing with a PC or Mac) is coming to Europe, and to the UK first. Why no iTunes Match to sync all your music library? Still being negotiated with record labels, we understand.

We suspect that the iPod Classic is for the chop, but that’s not certain. Sales of iPods are tailing off at about 5% annually, and iPod Touches (the app-enabled ones) taking more and more share – now up to 50% of iPod sales.

There’s a huge amount at stake today. Apple is presently the world’s largest mobile phone company (by revenue; Samsung is expected to be the biggest in terms of shipments). It’s possible that Samsung will have overtaken it in smartphone shipments in the third quarter (July-September) just ended; it will be interesting to see if Cook announces any iPhone shipment numbers for the quarter, because this should be the “quiet period” ahead of the financials. Possibly he’ll announce “iOS shipments”, which would be iPod Touch, iPhone and iPad.

Being biggest is no guarantee you’ll continue, though: just look at Nokia, which just one year ago could claim the title. Now it’s plunged into loss and we’re still waiting for its first Windows Phone device.

Everyone knows that with Steve Jobs having stepped down as chief executive, Cook needs to keep the executive team and the staff weaving the magic that has made Apple the biggest company by value in the world. That’s no small order. Everyone will be looking for the slightest flaw.

And now, on with the show…

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