iPhone 4S cues up new iOS, holds back iPod touch, saves iPod classic
October 9, 2011 by Beatweek
by Bill Palmer
The good news regarding Apple’s decision to go with an iPhone 4S this month instead of finding a way to get a full-on iPhone revamp to market in 2011 is that it hasn’t held up the launch of the new version of iOS. The operating system which should have come with the fifth generation iPhone has instead become a part of the iPhone 4S generation, including all of its features previewed in June along with the new Siri voice assistant feature. The bad news, at least for those who still care about the iPod, is that the entire iPod lineup appears to have been punted back by a year as a result. If there was to be an iPod touch 5 it likely would have mirrored the new hardware styling of the iPhone 5. Instead Apple has left the existing iPod touch 4 in place, spec for spec and feature for feature, with the singular exception of launching a white model. That move has in turn left the iPod touch stranded at a sixty-four gigabyte ceiling capacity (interestingly, now finally on par with the iPhone 4S and its new 64 GB ceiling), meaning that the iPod classic gets to live on another year. And there’s other fallout to the Apple lineup as well…
If it’s to be assumed that Apple product launches have been on the backburner of late as the company has had to deal with the transition to Tim Cook as CEO even as Steve Jobs was living out what Apple appears to now have known were his final days, then the company can be forgiven for serving up the iPhone 4S and very little else this month. But it’s worth pointing out that most Septembers have come with a full revamp of the iPod lineup, and this is the first year in half a decade that hasn’t happened. The iPod touch remains the same product. The iPod classic didn’t go away as a result, with its hundred and something gigabyte hard drive capacity the only reason it’s still on the market. The iPod nano, which was completely revamped last year, didn’t even get Apple’s usual off-year treatment in which the nano has traditionally seen cosmetic hardware changes in the years in which it wasn’t fully revamped. The iPod shuffle now enters its second identical year. Apple TV saw no hardware updates of any kind, a year after having seen its biggest (or smallest, based on physical shrinkage) revision to date. The iPad 3 or iPad 2S, which some expected would be spring in time for Christmas so the iPad could be positioned as a “new” generation heading into the holidays, never got a mention. Now it’s up to the iPhone 4S and iOS 5 to carry Apple’s momentum through at least the next season. And that’s actually a lot…
Siri voice recognition alone will sell a good number of iPhone 4S units, even to those who are upgrading from an identical-looking but significantly slower iPhone 4. Additionally, other iOS 5 features which have been extended to older iPhone models like the 4 and 3GS will run more slowly or a limited fashion on the comparatively outdated hardware, leading some to upgrade to a 4S who were quite adamant that they never would. Early iPhone 4S preorder sales figures point to a multitude of people not needing any convincing before buying. Overall, the iOS 5 feature set arguably brings more new major features and makes more fundamental changes to the iPhone experience than iOS 2 through iOS 4 combined. That makes the iPhone 4S, in a software sense, the biggest upgrade in iPhone history. And that’s a wave Apple will now attempt to ride through at least the end of the holidays, before regrouping in early 2012 with whatever comes next. Here’s more on the iPhone 4S and iPhone 5.
Updated 5:45pm PST with additional information on the iPhone 4