At 10 a.m. Pacific time today, Apple has something to show us all in an invitation-only event expected to last 90 minutes, culminating with what is all but certain to be the successor to the iPhone 4, which has been the subject of frenetic rumors for nearly a year under the "iPhone 5" moniker. Newly promoted CEO Tim Cook is also expected to reveal the release date for iOS 5 and iCloud, the Apple mobile OS and cloud-based syncing and backup service, respectively, that previous Apple CEO Steve Jobs unveiled in June.
Despite the nearly endless rumors, very little is truly known about Apple's announcements today. InfoWorld will update this story after the facts come in.
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The most credible rumors, from outlets with a good track record in getting verified details, suggest the following will be revealed:
- The new iPhone -- perhaps called the iPhone 4S or less likely the iPhone 4G S, rather than the iPhone 5 -- will be a faster version of the current iPhone 4, boasting the Apple A5 processor already used in the iPad 2 and sporting 1GB of RAM, and perhaps a version with 64GB of flash memory. The iPhone 4 uses the slower A4 chip and has 500MB of RAM. The smartphone's physical design is not likely to be significantly different, these reports suggest, though it could be thinner and perhaps soften the bezel's edges, like the iPod Touch. Some rumors suggest an all-aluminum case carved from a single block of metal, à la Apple's MacBooks.
- Persistent rumors also suggest that the new iPhone will support both GSM and CDMA networks, allowing it to be used as a "world phone," at least for carriers that permit such use on other carriers' networks. If true, it could let Apple move away from making carrier-specific hardware, even though iPhones would continue to be locked to a specific carrier in nations such as the U.S. that permit carrier locking.
- There are indications that the new iPhone will come with an enhanced voice recognition technology, likely from Apple's recent acquisition of Siri, to allow significantly more voice control for hands-free operation than previous iPhones. When Apple bought Siri in 2010, then-CEO Jobs said it was for its virtual-assistant-related artificial intelligence technology, comments now fueling the rumors. The same sources suggest that the new iPhone will also use the more natural-sounding voices, tuned for various languages, from Nuance that Apple added to Mac OS X Lion earlier this year.
- The current iPhone 4 will be kept for use as an entry-level model at a lower price, much as the iPhone 3G S has remained on sale since the iPhone 4 debuted 15 months ago. But the iPhone 4 may also be made available to pay-as-you-go customers, a first for an iPhone outside of the resale market.
- A version of the iPhone will be available in the United States for the Sprint network. That's all but certain, leaving T-Mobile USA the only iPhone-less U.S. carrier, as that carrier all but admitted recently.
Less common but plausible rumors suggest a new version of the iPod Touch will be available that like the iPad has a 3G connectivity option, as well as the possibility of a white version. It would be natural for Apple to announce updates to its iPod lineup as well, something it historically does in the fall, including the end of the hard-disk-based iPod Classic and perhaps the iPod Shuffle.
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