Ina Fried

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So What Puts the S in the New iPhone 4S?

While Apple’s new iPhone 4S resembles the iPhone 4 in many ways, there are several key changes that make the new phone different from its predecessor.

First up is the new A5 processor — the chip used in the iPad 2. The chip also packs an Apple-designed digital signal processor that can help with things like face detection on the camera, according to Apple Senior VP Phil Schiller, who led the part of Tuesday’s event focused on the new iPhone.

Second, Apple has tweaked the wireless networks and antennas, allowing a single phone to be a world phone, and also supporting a faster flavor of the kind of wireless networks used by AT&T, known as HSPA+.

Third, the phone packs a higher-resolution eight megapixel sensor with backside illumination, which Schiller said allows the camera to grab 73 percent more light and to be up to a third faster at snapping pictures. It can also take higher-resolution 1080p high-definition video.

“It really is the one camera you want to have with you all the time,” Schiller said.

The new iPhone, like the iPad 2, also supports mirroring to a TV over AirPlay and Apple TV or a wired connection. And, naturally, it packs iOS 5.

“It’s the best iPhone yet,” Schiller said.

Saving the best for last, though, Schiller talked about the new voice control features.

While other phones — and the iPhone itself — have had voice control, Schiller noted they have largely been limited to very specific commands, such as playing a song or calling a person.

“It is such a letdown,” Schiller said. “What we really want to do is just talk to a device.”

Apple’s new feature is dubbed Siri, with the name coming from a “virtual personal assistant” company that Apple bought last year.

The event is still going on, with talk having shifted to the new iPhone 4S. For live coverage, click here.

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I think the NSA has a job to do and we need the NSA. But as (physicist) Robert Oppenheimer said, “When you see something that is technically sweet, you go ahead and do it and argue about what to do about it only after you’ve had your technical success. That is the way it was with the atomic bomb.”

— Phil Zimmerman, PGP inventor and Silent Circle co-founder, in an interview with Om Malik