The new iPhone 4S is finally out, and if you didn’t know that, thank you for choosing us as the first website you read or thing you did after coming out from under the rock. We’re flattered. With every tech site posting the exact same iPhone 4S pictures and posting the exact same iPhone 4S specifications — under the egocentric delusion that they’re the only website their readers check (or that it matters who has it) — we’ve decided to look at what the iPhone 4S features really mean.
The first iPhone was a revolution of productivity. While hardcore hackers scoff at anything which isn’t Unix, and established PC fanatics pick at flaws in iOS (which is pretty funny coming from Windows users), the fact is that Apple integrated smartphones into daily life. They understood that the most powerful technology in the world is worthless if nobody uses it. By widening the market for portable computers, which happened to have a phone included (a feature they were able to drop by the iPad), they’re creating a future where everyone has access to information technology.
So how will the new iPhone help you do things faster and smarter?
One Thumb Touchscreen
Some have sniped at the 3.5 inch display, pointing out it’s smaller than the competitors’, and revealed far more about themselves than Apple in the process. They think progress is bigger numbers instead of actual usefulness. The iPhone 4S’ screen is designed to be used with a single hand, gripping and thumbing the screen at the same time, so that you don’t have to hold it with both to get anything done.
Of course you still can use your other hand for complicated tasks, but the core principle is that you should never have to — meaning you can walk down the street thumbing the map, choosing a contact, or sit writing with one hand while you call up the relevant texts with the other.
iCloud is exactly what anyone who works with a phone wants: the ability to not lose that work if you lose your smartphone.
The cloud syncing software makes your data available on any Apple device, so you can dash down quick notes while out and about then sit and process the results without wasting time with cables, connections, and the frequent problems that crop up when you use them. While many will use this for mobile music access, the fact is it makes your data almost indestructible.
The voice-activated assistant isn’t a gimmick, it could be the most exciting advance in personal technology this decade. It’s one of those things that’s so simple it seems stupid that it wasn’t done before: your smartphone is a computer you talk into, so why can’t you talk to it? It’s astonishing, and the thing Apple understands is that it doesn’t matter if there were very real technical difficulties making it happen. You’re not selling it to voice-analysis programmers, so just make it work. And they did.
The ability to talk to your phone promises to revolutionize workflow. Simply saying things to create reminders is already a huge help, meaning you have no excuse for not using a productivity boosting system like Getting Things Done or Remember The Milk. And the number of features will only increase. Siri isn’t just an iPhone 4S feature, if it works out it’ll be proof that voice control now works. So expect to see it on everything, everywhere, very soon.
Despite the claims of those who automatically get excited about any numbers, the dual-core A5 won’t directly do anything for your productivity. It might be twice as fast as a raw processor, but it’s not like you use your phone for computationally intensive tasks (or at least, you don’t if you want them to be finished the same year as you started them.) Apple have always been intelligent about appearance, and the A5 upgrade is geared for graphics.
Don’t underestimate the effects of a proper break. While the work desktop might be limited to Minesweeper, which is a worse mental break than actually hitting yourself in the head with a hammer, if you have your own games in your pocket you can take ten quick and genuinely fun minutes whenever you feel the need to reboot your brain. And then get back to work!
Image credit: macroworld / iStockphoto