There is nothing quite like the hype surrounding Apple events, but as consumers and the media waited for Apple’s new CEO Tim Cook finish his first presentation to the world, there were already sighs of boredom as people were underwhelmed by what Apple had to offer. The iPhone 4S is, as expected, just an incremental upgrade to the iPhone 4 with bigger storage, a faster dual core CPU, and a better camera (now at 8 megapixels). But there is no wow factor.
The presentation itself focused as much on the current successes of Apple products as the new releases which says something about Apple trying to maintain the status quo with its most recent release. Far too much time was devoted to a new card printing and posting app, that may be causing Hallmark executives to sweat – it is not revolutionary.
The iCloud services such as backup and syncing are again useful additions, but already offered by numerous other companies including Apple’s main competitors – Google and Microsoft. The MusicMatch service, which legitimises a user’s possibly ill-gotten music collection and hosts it in the cloud for streaming from anywhere with an internet connection, was one of the most interesting technologies referred to in the speech – but this news is not new. Neither was the news about the new iOS 5 features.
The only technology really worth writing about from the whole presentation was the Siri artificial intelligence engine – left for Tim Cook’s “one more thing”. It lets you just talk to the phone using normal language like “book me a table at a nearby Italian restaurant” or “book a meeting with Bob next Wednesday” and it does the rest – sort of like having an actual assistant. The technology behind this is mightily impressive, and the tool itself could be very useful when you are sitting at home, in the office, or even in the car and want such a task performed – but much of the charm of a smartphone is using it when on the move – on the street or on public transport when talking to the device is not so practical – text input would have been nice.
If I had to sum up the whole announcement in a word – “Blah”.