Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger: The new iPhone 4S was introduced today at an Apple's media event held in Cupertino, Calif.
It didn't have as much music focus as previous product unveilings, nor did it have Steve Jobs, but Apple's media event on Tuesday had important news on the new iOS 5 operating system, the new iPhone 4S and price drops in older iPhone devices.
As for news that relates specifically to the music industry, iCloud and iOS 5 will be available October 12 and iTunes Match will launch at the end of October in the U.S. (no details were given about iTunes Match in other countries).
The iPhone 4S will be available October 14. Preorders start October 7. The device will be available in the U.S., Canada, the U.K., France, Germany and Japan. In the U.S., the iPhone 4 will be available through Verizon, AT&T and Sprint. The prices will be $199 for the 16 GB version, $299 for the 32 GB version and $399 for the 64 GB version.
As some analysts had predicted, older iPhones will get cheaper. The 8 GB version of the iPhone 4 will cost $99 and the 8 GB iPhone 3GS will be free on contract.
Don't miss Billboard's FutureSound Conference, taking place November 17-18 at Terra in San Francisco. FutureSound will feature keynotes from the top minds in investment, technology and music today; presentations that will offer specific solutions structured around answering the most pressing questions; and workshops.
The iPhone 4S has an A5 chip (same as the iPad 2) and will be up to twice as fast as the iPhone 4 while offering improved battery life. It includes an improved camera with an 8-megapixel sensor and will record video in 1080p HD. It will operate on both GSM and CDMA networks.
There is one aspect to the iPhone 4S that is sure to disappoint some people, however: it will not have a new design.
iOS 5's most impressive feature is a new voice recognition-based assistant called Siri. It prompts the user with "What can I help you with?" and answers questions and executes functions. Examples in the presentation involved the weather, nearby restaurants, driving directions and creating calendar appointments. A screen shot showed during the presentation also showed that Siri can be used to voice-activate a song stored in iTunes. Siri works in English, French and German. It will be a beta version to start out, and more languages and services are planned.
The event offered nothing new about Apple's upcoming iCloud storage service other than the October 12 launch date. Users can download and re-download music or other media onto any device at any time. That means music files, video, photos, apps, ebooks and personal documents are stored in Apple's cloud and can be accessed from any Apple device. iCloud will have a daily backup that backs up files as well as contacts and calendar events.
Part of iCloud is iTunes Match. Apple had already released details on the service, so the main news on Tuesday is that iTunes Match will be available by the end of October in the U.S. The $25-per-year service scans a user's music collection and creates an identical version in the cloud. Songs are matched in 256 kbps AAC, DRM-free files regardless of the file on the user's hard drive. Songs that are not already in iTunes will be uploaded to the user's account for online access.
The other music-related items from the event were news about the iPod. First, there is an update to the iPod Nano. The new Nano will have swipeable apps so it's easier to move from one app to another. It costs $129 for the 8 GB version or $149 for 16 GB. Second, the iPod Touch will be available in white starting October 12. iPod Touch prices are $199 for 8 GB, $299 for 32 GB and $399 for 64 GB.