Technology giant Apple unveiled a faster, more powerful iPhone tonight in its first major product event in years without legendary co-founder Steve Jobs presiding.
New CEO Tim Cook, wearing a navy blue button-down shirt and jeans, opened by calling his nearly 14-year tenure at Apple "the privilege of a lifetime." Those in the audience clapped as he entered, but the reaction seemed more muted than what Jobs, who stepped down as CEO in August, had received.
Cook said the iPhone 4, which came out in June 2010, sold more quickly than previous models, but the iPhone still has five percent of the worldwide handset market.
The new iPhone 4S, which was unveiled tonight, has an improved 8-megapixel camera with a higher-resolution sensor. The Apple-developed A5 dual core processor is faster, which helps run smoother, more realistic action games.
The iPhone 4S is available on AT&T, Verizon and Sprint networks in the United States and is a "world phone," which means that Verizon and Sprint customers will be able to use their iPhones overseas, just as AT&T iPhones are.
Apple is including a "personal assistant" application called Siri, which responds to spoken questions and commands such as "Do I need an umbrella today?" It's an advanced version of speech-recognition apps found on other phones.
The new iPhone also comes with Apple's latest mobile operating system, iOS 5, which includes features such as the ability to sync content wirelessly, without having to plug the device to a Mac or Windows computer system.
IOS 5 will be available on October 12 for existing devices — the iPhone 4 and 3GS, both iPad models and later versions of the iPod Touch.
Apple further revealed that the same date will mark the launch of its new iCloud service, which will store content such as music, documents, apps and photos on Apple's servers and let people access them wirelessly and simultaneously on multiple devices.
The event took place in Apple's Town Hall room, where the first iPod was launched a decade ago. Cook said Apple has sold more than 300 million iPods worldwide so far, including 45 million in the 12 months through June.
AT&T, Verizon and Sprint customers longing for the 4S' dual-core A5 processor, 8MP camera, dual-mode radio and Siri personal assistant can place their pre-orders starting this Friday with the phone officially landing a week later, on the 14th.