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iPhone 4S Review

It turns out we did not get our fabled iPhone 5, but we did get a new device from Apple last week, the iPhone 4S.  As usual, I received my device on day one and am prepared to review it.

Design

The iPhone 4 had an impressive design with glass and on the front and back and a stainless steel band holding everything in, and the iPhone 4S maintains that design.  The 3.5 inch retina display remains as well.  Again, those hoping for the iPhone 5 might be disappointed, but the 4S looks great, especially in white.

Hardware

What is new with the 4S is the internals.  Apple’s dual core A5 chip (from the iPad 2) is paired with 512MB of RAM.  Apple claims the A5 will improve performance by up to 2X for daily tasks and up to 7X for graphic rich games.  The iPhone 4S is quicker at launch apps, loading apps, and just about everything else.

Another major change internally is the antenna.  There was a lot of controversy surrounding the iPhone 4’s antenna.  So much that Apple provided free cases to iPhone 4 customers experiencing a drop in network connectivity.  Apple has supposedly fixed this issue by allowing the phone to switch seamlessly between two antennas built into the phone.  So far, tests have indicted this system has worked.

Camera 

Apple is very proud of the fact that the iPhone 4 is the most popular camera on Flickr and they have upgraded the camera for the 4S. The sensor is increased from 5MP to 8MP, but the real story is in the CMOS sensor from Sony.  The backlit sensor allows in more light making the images crisper in low-light situations.  In addition, Apple has added an additional lens into the design allowing for more accurate color depiction.  All these features, along with the new  f/2.4 aperture (improved from the old phone’s f/2.8) make for a great camera.

In addition, the camera now takes 1080p video and, paired with iOS 5, includes many new built in photo editing options.

iOS 5

The latest release of iOS improves greatly on what Apple has already created, and addresses many of the concerns put forth by those in the tech world.  The creation of Notification Center is certainly one of the greatest features in iOS 5.  Notification Center is similar to that on an Android device and makes it easy to keep track of everything you missed.

Other features such as: iMessage, Newsstand, Reminders, Twitter integration, and mail improvement are just a few of the over 200 new features in iOS 5.  Perhaps one of the greatest new features is the fact that Apple has made their devices truly wireless.  It is not longer necessary to sync your iPhone, iPod Touch or iPad to iTunes for backups and updates.  Syncing can be done over WiFi and the OS is now updated over-the-air via delta updates.

Overall, iOS 5 is a very solid OS.  There were some download issues when it was released last week (my iPhone 4 was bricked for a few hours), but that was largely due to the amount of traffic on Apple’s servers.  It has been reported that 1/3 of all iOS devices are now running iOS 5.  It hasn’t even been out a week yet!

iCloud

A major new feature of iOS 5 and Mac OS X Lion is iCloud.  iCloud allows the user to wirelessly sync photos, calendars, contacts, bookmarks, documents, books, mail, and iTunes between all your Apple devices without the need to sync.  It is all done automatically and it works very well.  For example, I downloaded an iBook yesterday to my iPad, it automatically downloaded it to iTunes and to my iPhone.  I also added an appointment to my calendar on my iPhone and it automatically added it to my calendars on my iPad and MacBook Pro.  As Steve Jobs said in June, it just works.

All these features are also accessible from iCloud.com if you are not on an iCloud enabled device.  Users can also signup for a free .me email address if they choose.  Perhaps the most amazing part of iCloud is the price, FREE.  iCloud is free to all iOS 5 and Mac OS X Lion users.  I believe this is going to start a trend in the tech world as cloud services become more and more popular.

Siri 

Perhaps the greatest, and most fun, feature of the iPhone 4S is Siri.  I am sure you have seen all the articles about Siri’s attitude and snappy remarks, but she really is helpful.  She can send email and texts, set reminders and appointments, make phone calls, play music, search the web, and just about anything else you might need.  She does so, as she says, humbly.  Siri is remarkably smooth for a beta and there are few times that she misunderstands.

Yes, Siri is fun to ask off the wall questions, but she is very useful and I think will only get better with time. I believe that Apple will eventually share Siri’s APIs with developers and we will see voice integration with 3rd party apps and that will truly make Siri the master of everything.

Impressions 

I have to admit that at first I was a little disappointed by the announcement of the iPhone 4S on October 4, but after using it for a few days, you begin to realize that Apple still has the complete package.  Having used Android phones, most recently the Samsung Galaxy S II, there appears to be an inherent cheapness to the feeling of the chassis of many phones.  The iPhone 4S, like the iPhone 4, feels very strong and durable, despite being made from glass.  The other issue with many phones is the disconnect between the hardware and software, but with Apple, both are made by the same people to ensure they work together seamlessly.  The iPhone 4S is a strong smartphone with great overall features, but other devices, such as the Motorola Droid RAZR, are thinner and have larger displays.  Apple is on par with the current market, after all, Apple did sell 4 million over the weekend, but a major redesign in 2012 will be required if they do not want to fall behind the crowd.

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The Legacy of Steve Jobs

Since the funeral for Steve Jobs was held on Friday, I decided that I would publish my final post on his legacy today.

After Steve resigned as Apple’s CEO in August, everyone began writing stories about Steve’s legacy as though he were dead.  Now that he is, I have read repeats of what was said then.  Instead of simply reposting my take on Steve’s legacy, I decided to write a fresh perspective, one that encompasses his entire life, and not just his career at Apple.

Steve was born in 1956 to two college students who ultimately decided to put him up for adoption.  Steve was adopted by a family in the San Francisco area and attended high school in Cupertino.  As a kid he enjoyed technology and even had an internship at Hewlett Packard as a teen (while Steve was CEO of Apple, the company purchased part of the HP campus and intends to build its new campus at that location).

After graduating high school, Steve attended a few college classes before dropping out to devote his time to Apple.  The story of Apple is often told due to its romanticism.  A company started by two friends in a garage, but what we often over look is the two men themselves.  Steve and Steve Wozniak (Woz) complemented each other.  Woz was a technological genius and could build anything.  Steve had the vision of what could be and pushed Woz to build it.  The Apple I was a useless machine by todays standards, but it was the world first computer that did not encompass an entire room.  The Apple II brought computing to the home.

After the success of the Apple II, Steve and Woz separated within the company.  Woz remained with the Apple II group and Steve move on and worked with the group that would eventually launch the Macintosh.  The Macintosh used a completely new form of software, Graphical User Interface (GUI), that Apple at acquired (the nice way of putting it) from Xerox.  GUI required a new device be created to control the computer and the mouse was born.  The Macintosh encompassed what Steve strove to achieve with all products, function and design.  The design of the Macintosh was an all in one computer that allowed for simple functionality and portability.  When Steve introduced the talking Macintosh in 1984, computing was changed yet again.  It was GUI that paved the way for IBM and Microsoft to talk Apple on in the personal computer market.

Shortly after the introduction of Macintosh, Steve was gone.  He was fired by the man he chose to be CEO.  The Board of Directors proved to be more loyal to the CEO than the founder.  Woz had left Apple a year before Steve to return to college.  He became a teacher, and has not worked for Apple since.

Steve found himself without a job and without a future.  He had a load of cash, but he felt the need to create, and create he did.  He spent most of his fortune to business ventures.  First, he created a software company called NeXT.  NeXT was a new spin on GUI and he set out to attack Microsoft and Apple.  He was openly critical of Apple’s decisions throughout this period.  The second venture was the purchase of Pixar from George Lucas.  Lucas felt he could do nothing with the company and sold it to Steve.  There he met John Lasseter and other computer graphical designers who had a vision for a movie.  By 1995, the first film was ready and Toy Story was released.  It was the first movie to be fully computer animated.  The movie was a huge success, and Steve was back on top.  NeXT, however, was failing to compete with Microsoft and Apple was slowly dying, having gone through a string of unsuccessful CEOs.

In 1997, Steve found himself back at the company he started when Apple bought NeXT.  Steve was immediately named interim CEO and he immediately asked the entire Board of Directors to resign.  He replaced them with top technology firm founders and CEOs (such as Eric Schmidt from Google).  The second thing Steve did was killing most of Apple’s product line.  He felt that Apple was building too much and consumers were overwhelmed with the selection of “professional” and “consumer” products.  It was his vision to build a machine that both, and in 1998, Steve unveiled the iMac.  The iMac was an all-in-one, built for both consumers and professionals.  It was also designed to look appealing.  It came in a variety of colors and looked great on a desk.

The iMac began a string of hit products for Apple with Steve at the helm.  In 2000, Apple began to seed Mac OS X with his NeXT technology under the hood.  In 2001, Steve and Apple changed the music world with iTunes and the iPod.  Not only could you listen to music, but also you could buy it, download it, and own it.  That was a fairly new concept for the music industry and, as Steve explained in 2003, it was not easy to convince them to take part.  However, as Napster and other programs that were deemed illegal became popular, the record labels gave in.

In 2004, Steve was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.  A form, which he said, was treatable with surgery.  In a commencement speech at Stanford University in 2005, Steve talked openly about his diagnosis and how close to death he had become.  Steve’s speech has been shown countless times over the past several days.  In 2006, Steve and Disney came to an agreement and they bought Pixar for $7.6 billion, making Steve chairman of Disney’s Board of Directors and making him the largest shareholder of Disney stock.

After several years of innovation with the iPod and Mac, Apple released the iPhone in 2007.  The iPhone changed the way carriers and phone manufacturers related to each other in the United States.  Before the iPhone, you could only purchase games from the carrier, but the App Store allowed developers to distribute their applications to the consumers in a safe, secure way.  The iPhone paved the way for the iPad release in 2010.  The iPad is, by far, the tablet leader around the world, and most analysts agree that will not change anytime soon.  Steve shared at his appearance at D8 in 2010, that the iPad was designed first by Apple, but he felt the phone should come first.  The market was not yet ready for a tablet. It was this extraordinary vision that made Steve successful.

Steve’s last appearance on stage came in June 2011 and the introduction of iCloud.  Although it has yet to be fully released (but it will be this Wednesday), legions of Apple fans and users are awaiting its arrival to simplify the way their devices communicate with one another.

Steve’s legacy should not be the Macintosh, iPod, iPhone, or even the iPad, because they will change along with technology.  His legacy most likely will not be his ability to understand the market the public unlike any other.  Instead, the legacy of Steve Jobs was his ability to rebound.  He rebounded after being fired by Apple in the mid-1980s, he rebounded when he became CEO of the failing Apple, and he rebounding following his first battle with cancer in 2004.  Nothing could keep Steve down.  The media has assumed that Steve died of cancer, but that has yet to be confirmed.  Many have suggested that he has been fighting this latest round of cancer for over two years, and if that is the case, even though it ultimately won, he put up one hell of a fight and refused to allow it to take him away from his work.  Steve’s devotion to Apple and his success of taking a company months from bankruptcy and making it the largest technology company on the planet is what has earned him the honor of being Fortune’s CEO of the decade (2000-2010).  His mind for business and technolog, as an innovator on the scale of Henry Ford and Thomas Edison (Steve holds over 300 patents) are his legacy.

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Steve Jobs Presentations

Steve and his wife after his presentation at WWDC 2011, his last.

One of Steve’s greatest talents was his presentation style.  His iconic St. Croix Mock Turtleneck, Levi 501 jeans, and New Balance 991 shoes graced the stage at 1 Infinite Loop many times.  He will be remembered on stage holding the devices we most wanted.  Here is a video collection of Steve introducing some of Apple’s most popular devices.

1984: The Macintosh

1997: Steve Jobs Return to Apple

1998: The iMac

2001: iTunes

2001: iPod

2007: iPhone

2010: iPad

2011: iCloud

One More Thing….

Steve was famous for ending his presentation with this phrase and introdicing yet another new product or a suprise feature.  Here is a collection of those “One More Things”:

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Steve Jobs: The iCEO

In the wake of the resignation of Steve Jobs, the Internet community is acting as though they are at a funeral.  Steve Jobs is not dead. He merely resigned as CEO of Apple and has been voted Chairman of the Board of Directors.  I certainly understand why there is an outpouring of grief considering the circumstances surrounding his resignation and medical leave, but lets save the obituaries for when they are necessary.  Instead, we should celebrate what Steve Jobs was able to accomplish as CEO of Apple.

Steve returned to Apple in 1997 when the company purchased his tech firm NExT.  He had been absent from Apple since 1985 and the company was failing.  Steve was named interim CEO and convinced the Board of Directors to resign.  This allowed Steve to build a new Board.

Steve announced his return at MacWorld in 1997

Apple’s major issue in 1997 was that it offered too many product lines (computers, printers, cameras, etc.) and Steve decided it should trim them down.  In fact, at the time, Apple offered nine different variations of its computers.  After employees were unable to explain the differences between the models, it was clear they should be eliminated.  He quickly sent the Macintosh team back to the drawing board to create a new computer, one that could be used by professionals and novices alike.

Before Steve was able to accomplish this, however, there was one major obstacle standing in his way…cash.  Apple did not have any.  He was forced to look for partners, and in a move that surprised and angered many in the Apple community, he turned to Microsoft.  Bill Gates invested in Apple and they created a temporary partnership that would allow them to share specific patents.  In return, Microsoft bought Apple stock with the stipulation they would not sell it for two years.  This gave Apple the cash it needed to create the products that would shape my generation.

Steve and the iMac

Apple struck first in 1998 with the introduction of the iMac.  The all in one desktop device gave Apple the boost it needed, in capital and in stock value.  Apple was quiet for a few years, but in 2000, Steve was no longer considered the “interim” CEO of Apple.

The iPod

In 2001, Apple unveiled its newest device, one that would change how the world listens to music, the iPod.  At first, the iPod is simply a device for loading your CDs too, but Apple vision went much further and in 2003 they released the iTunes music store.  For the first time, the consumer could buy ONE song instead of an entire album.  This also allowed independent artists to distribute their music directly to the public.

In August 2004, Steve was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer that is deemed to be operable.  He recovered from surgery and returned to work in September of the same year.  In his 2005 Stanford Commencement address, Steve briefly talked about his diagnosis and how the doctor had originally given him three months to live, before performing a biopsy.

The first iPhone

Apple’s innovation hit a new high when Steve unveiled the iPhone in 2007.  The phone was the first to have content that was not controlled by the cell phone carrier.  Apple took the iPhone to the next level when they unveiled the App Store.  This gave developers a place to distribute their applications to the owners of iPhones.

In 2009, Steve’s health made headlines again when he announced he would be taking medical leave in January.  When he returned to work in July, he revealed he had undergone a liver transplant earlier that year.  Steve’s return was greatly welcomed, but since this event, Steve has never looked as strong.

Unveiling the iPad

In January 2010, Steve was on stage yet again to unveil another Apple device, the iPad.  The iPad continues to dominate the tablet market almost two years later.

In January 2011, Steve announced that he was once again taking an indefinite medial leave to focus on his health.  Despite being on medical leave, Steve was present for the iPad 2 event in January and WWDC in June.  Many saw this as a sign that Steve’s health was improving that his medical leave would soon end.  Yesterday’s announcement of Steve’s resignation as CEO came as a surprise as many, and has left the Apple community concerned over his health.

Steve at WWDC in June 2011

Over the past fourteen years, Steve has led Apple from the brink of bankruptcy to being the most valuable tech company in the world.  There are critics of Apple’s strategies and, at times, bullying of it competitors, but there is no denying that Apple would not be what it has become if it were not for Steve Jobs.

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