Apple: It's the iPhone 4S, not the iPhone 5

New smartphone goes on sale Oct. 14, pre-orders start Oct. 7

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During today's event, Apple's head of iOS development, Scott Forstall, demonstrated Siri. Later, Apple said that a beta of the voice-controlled agent will be available when the iPhone 4S appears.

Siri listens to natural-language instructions, and acts accordingly, letting users dictate email and text messages, set reminders, get directions, search the Web and more by simply talking to their iPhone.

In 2010, Apple acquired Siri, a maker of a personal assistant app for the iPhone, for a reported $200 million. Previously, reports surfaced that Apple combined the technology from Siri with that of Nuance, the company best known for its Dragon Dictate line of voice recognition software, but Apple did not mention the latter today.

Siri works with the iPhone's built-in apps, said Apple, but cannot do everything for users. It will debut in versions able to comprehend English, French and German, with more languages to follow, promised Schiller.

Apple also provided more information on iOS 5 today, saying that the mobile operating system upgrade -- which will power the iPhone 4S and be available to owners of iPhone 3GS and iPhone 4 smartphones, as well as all iPads and the last two generations of the iPod Touch -- will debut Oct. 12. Computerworld last week projected that release date based on past Apple practice.

The new iCloud synchronization and backup service will also launch on Oct. 12, said Eddy Cue, Apple's senior vice president of Internet software and services. The iTunes Match service, which Apple previewed last June at its annual developer conference, will debut in the U.S. at the end of October, and be priced at $24.99 yearly.

iTunes Match will scan a customer's iTunes collection, match those tunes that were not bought through Apple's store against the 18 million tracks in Apple's library, then make the matches available for instant downloading to a maximum 10 devices.

The complete package -- new hardware, iOS 5, Siri, iCloud -- is what most consumers will use to judge whether they'll buy an iPhone 4S, concluded Gottheil.

"Apple's job has always been to get rid of the things that are problems, and reduce the impediments to buying," Gottheil said. "For me, that shows in the integration of all the components, from the phone to iOS 5 to Siri."

Interest in the iPhone 4 briefly brought Apple's website offline, but the site quickly came back up.

Gregg Keizer covers Microsoft, security issues, Apple, Web browsers and general technology breaking news for Computerworld. Follow Gregg on Twitter at @gkeizer, on Google+ or subscribe to Gregg's RSS feed . His e-mail address is gkeizer@computerworld.com.

See more articles by Gregg Keizer.

Copyright © 2011 IDG Communications, Inc.

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