Nerding Out

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strongAlfredo Gil, Beacon Columnist/strong

As of last Tuesday’s keynote address, Apple’s latest creation, the iPhone 4S, is now available for your tech-savvy fingers to smudge against. Apple boasts “the most amazing iPhone yet,” but anything they released would fit that title — It’s just sneaky marketing. With expectations set astronomically high, Apple disappointed. Just over a year after the iPhone 4, I expected Apple to leap ahead of its competitors yet again, but instead received a lukewarm update. My gut tells me an iPhone 5 was planned but wasn’t ready and Apple never shows unfinished products. And now the iPhone 5 has missed the holiday season.

One day after the passing of Steve Jobs, Apple’s former CEO turned Executive Chairman, the iPhone 4S was revealed. A company can’t run efficiently while its founder and brand messiah is on his death bed. It’s my job to be critical of the tech industry, but I have the utmost respect for the employees on that stage who played these cards while Steve’s empty seat was staring back.

So what’s new? Much like the iPhone 3GS, most improvements are under the hood. A dual-core A5 chip doubles the power of the previous model and enables up to seven times faster processing. This power boost is great for games, as Namco Bandai’s Executive Producer of Mobile Entertainment, Jonathan Kromrey, described it to Industry Gamers as “a console in the palm of your hand.”

The new eight megapixel camera shoots 1080p HD video and a plethora of apps available (Instagram, iMovie) make it the best point and shoot camera on the market. On the software side, the iPhone 4S ships with iOS 5, and gives you iMessage, Apple’s latest mobile operating system which introduces a new notification center, which is similar to BBM but used across all iOS products. The iPhone also has iCloud for wirelessly syncing and virtually storing across iOS products, and enables deep Twitter integration across Photos, Maps, and other apps.

The real winner in software is Siri, an intelligent assistant that helps you get things done by using your voice. Hold down the Home button and Siri is listening to you. Ask “What’s the weather like?” or “Do I need an umbrella?” and Siri understands the context, responds, and pulls up a forecast. Ask Siri where the best sushi places are and it brings up a map with restaurants sorted by ratings. Siri can manage your calendar, search the web, set alarms, and more. It’s groundbreaking, works beautifully, and it’s all hands free. Google did this first on Android phones, but Apple took it to the next level.

The iPhone 3GS is now free on contract, the iPhone 4 has dropped to $99, and the 4S is $199, $299, and $399 for the 16GB, 32GB, and 64GB models respectively. This is an incredible device, but Apple needed to push the envelope further to cement itself as the market pioneer.

Meanwhile, Android continues to grow stronger, promoting new technologies like Google Wallet, while Microsoft gains steam as the fruits of their Nokia partnership will be revealed soon. Expect both camps to work around the clock with huge opportunities as iOS 5 starts to feel dated. Despite all this, the iPhone 4S will be a hit since it’s the first iPhone available on ATamp;T, Verizon, and now Sprint, and there are plenty of iPhone 3G and 3GS owners who have yet to upgrade. Apple knows their competitors are working tirelessly, which gives them reason to make the iPhone 5 worth the wait. But will it be?

emGil is a senior marketing major and a Beacon/em emcolumnist. /em

emHe can be reached at alfredo_gil@emerson.edu./em

emFollow him on Twitter @alfredosays/em