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The Tech-pert: Five Pieces of Good News from Today's Apple Announcement

By Guest Blogger(view all posts by Rick.Broida)
at 1:56PM Tuesday October 4, 2011
under Newsworthy

Okay. Deep breaths, everyone. Despite months and months of rumor and some pretty decent evidence to the contrary, Apple did not announce an iPhone 5 today. Instead, the company unveiled a slightly updated iPhone 4, dubbed the iPhone 4S.

That sound you hear is several hundred million Apple fanboys weeping.

That other sound you hear is several thousand bloggers registering their discontent.

I, for one, am not going to pile on. While I'm disappointed there's no next-gen iPhone, I'm still perfectly happy with the model I own now. In fact, Apple did me a favor by allowing me to keep my credit card in my wallet.

And the day wasn't a total bust. Apple's 90-minute event did reveal some interesting news, products, and updates. They were merely overshadowed by shattered expectations.

So, let's take a look at the five things Apple got right today.
  1. Camera improvements

    The iPhone 4S will have arguably the best camera of any smartphone. It gains an 8-megapixel image sensor and f/2.4 aperture, and it can shoot its first photo in just 1.1 second--far faster than competing 8MP phones. And you can snap your next photo in just half a second. Plus, its back-illuminated sensor promises to capture 73 percent more light. Translation: low-light photos will look a lot better.

  2. Lower prices

    The iPhone 4S slides into the price slots previously held by its older sibling: $199 for the 16GB model, $299 for 32GB, and, for the first time, $399 for 64GB. Meanwhile, the 8GB iPhone 4 drops to $99, and the 8GB iPhone 3GS will be Apple's first free phone. (All of these prices are with a two-year contract, of course.)

  3. The new iPod Nanos

    The oh-so-cute touchscreen Nano got a minor but worthwhile overhaul, starting with price: it's now $129 for the 8GB model and $149 for 16GB. Gone is the four-icon grid; in its place, scrolling, full-screen icons. And the Nano comes with 16 new clock faces (including Mickey Mouse!), which is great if you like to wear it on your wrist (which you can thanks to some cool watchband accessories).

    But the best news of all is that the Nano now has a built-in pedometer and Nike+ app, meaning it can track your foot-powered workouts without any additional hardware.

  4. iOS 5

    Apple's latest mobile operating system will arrive October 12, bringing with it a wealth of cool stuff. Granted, most of the slick features shown today were already previewed back in June, but there was at least one new one: Find My Friends. In a nutshell, it lets you track down friends and family members who have opted to share their location. Also kinda cool: Cards, which lets you create and mail old-fashioned greeting cards (adorned with personal photos, natch) right from your iPhone.

  5. Siri

    The real showstopper today: Siri, a voice-powered "personal assistant" that's about as futuristic as software gets. Ask it where the best Thai restaurants are; it'll tell you. Ask if you should pack a raincoat today; it'll tell you. Tell it to send a text message to your brother; it'll transcribe your spoken words and deliver them. It's nothing short of amazing.

    Unfortunately, Apple declined to mention when Siri would be available. It could be six months out for all we know. Plus, it will run only on the iPhone 4S, as it requires a considerable amount of processing power. (The 4S sports a dual-core processor.) Bummer.

What do you think Apple got right today? Or are you so disappointed by the non-arrival of the iPhone 5, everything else just seems lame? Speak your mind in the comments!

Self-proclaimed cheapskate Rick Broida has been a technology writer for over 20 years. He has authored over a dozen books, including, most recently, "How to Do Everything: Palm Pre." Currently he writes the Cheapskate blog.