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Apple Launches New iPhone, Announces iCloud Start Date

Apple on Tuesday launched a new iPhone, but it failed to live up to the expectations of those anticipating a major facelift to the popular smartphone. The company also said its previously announced iCloud service will be available next week.

However, the iCloud took a back seat to the new iPhone. Instead of rolling out the widely rumored iPhone 5, Apple introduced the iPhone 4S. While incorporating the design of the existing iPhone 4, Apple upgraded the innards of the phone with  its new dual-core A5 processor, which the company said has double the processing capacity and seven times faster graphics.

A new dual-antenna design automatically switches between antennas to send and receive. The phone also incorporates both CDMA and GSM, enabling it to be used worldwide.

The new iPhone also comes with an 8-megapixel camera and is loaded with the new iOS 5 operating system, which will also be made available to existing users of the iPhone 4 and iPhone 3GS. Among 200 new features, iOS 5 includes a new messaging service called iMessage and Twitter integration.

iPhone 4S
iPhone 4S. Source: Apple

Apple emphasized a new feature in the iPhone 4S called Siri, which incorporates contextual voice recognition. Siri allows users to use voice commands to conduct searches, send text messages or e-mails, and perform calculations, Apple said.

In addition to incumbent carriers AT&T and Verizon, Sprint will also carry the iPhone 4S, which will be available on Oct. 14 and will be priced at $199 for a 16 GB model, $299 for 32 GB, and $399 for 64 GB.

Meanwhile, Apple said its personal cloud service, iCloud, will be available Oct. 12. In addition to bringing iTunes and Apple's Photo Stream offering to the cloud, users can store files on the service via Documents in the Cloud. The iCloud service makes all of a user's content and documents available across his or her various devices, including iPhones, iPads, iPods, Macintosh computers and PCs.

Changes made on one device, such as applications, music, photos, documents, contacts or calendar items, are automatically synchronized across devices via iCloud.

"Apple's iCloud is an important new software platform and service that will integrate Apple's customer experiences across their iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch, and Mac products," said Forrester analyst Frank Gillett in a blog post. "This first version creates a personal cloud experience of the individual's work, personal, and purchased content being seamlessly available across all their Apple products, in contrast to the fragmented experience of Google, Microsoft and Amazon."

The iCloud Documents in the Cloud feature works with Apple's iWorks productivity suite, enabling users to store documents, spreadsheets or presentations in the cloud and access them from other devices. Apple is making the APIs available to developers to integrate their apps with Documents in the Cloud.

Among other features are iCloud Backup, which automates the backup of important files or content; Find My iPhone, which locates a missing phone; and Find My Friends, a location-sharing app.

The first 5 GB of iCloud storage are free. Apple offers additional capacity starting at $20 a year for 10 GB, $40 for 20 GB, and $100 for 50 GB. Content purchased on iTunes is free.

About the Author

Jeffrey Schwartz is editor of Redmond magazine and also covers cloud computing for Virtualization Review's Cloud Report. In addition, he writes the Channeling the Cloud column for Redmond Channel Partner. Follow him on Twitter @JeffreySchwartz.