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Five interesting notes from today's Apple event

As you may have heard, today Apple introduced the world to the new iPhone 4S along with iOS 5. (Although neither of those should really come as a surprise.) There were some other key items/observations from today's event, and as luck (or our predilection for lists) would have it, here's a look at five of them:

1. This is Tim Cook's company now. Sure Steve Jobs will always play a role in the DNA of Apple, just as "Woz" has for many years, Tim Cook looks quite confident, and perhaps relieved to be out of Jobs' shadow. If any investors had jitters about his ability to present/sell products as well as Jobs, today should make those jitters go away. There's a lot more to running a company than putting on a good presentation, but at Apple, it has always been a key to success.

2. Cards? Among the odder announcements, was the introduction of the Cards app, which will allow you to select and send a physical card from your iPhone to "anywhere" in the world. I guess this is for those moments when just sending an email seems cold or uncaring, but going to pick out and actually sign a card would be too much work?

3. Find your friends. While I'm not really big on sharing my location with the world every minute of the day, (kinda ruins the secret lair vibe I'm going for) I can appreciate this new feature from Apple, especially because you can turn it on temporarily for friends trying to find you. It will be great at a concert venue or crowded park.

4. The iPhone 4S is a camera too. It will take while for consumers to catch on, but with the speed/color/quality improvements on this iPhone, it is truly possible to ditch your point and shoot camera. This model is a camera. Period. It's not just an image sensor tacked on to a phone. Unless you really need the ability to zoom, this will become the only camera you need to pack for most day-to-day adventures.  

5. Is the world ready for voice recognition?  Over the past three months, I've been having a blast using Siri, the voice recognizing personal assistant app, which was purchased by Apple last year. Today Apple showed how it would be integrated into the iPhone 4S and iOS 5. It was a great demo, and that's just the thing: when I said I've been "using it" the last three months, I've rarely used it for more than a quick demo of what it can do. Perhaps a dozen times I've used to for something useful like finding where a movie was playing in an unfamiliar town. Consumers could be slow to start using the technology. Not that that's a problem for Apple: they are just offering it, and whether you use it or not is up to you.

 And in case you missed the key dates/ info, the iPhone 4S will be available beginning Oct. 14th, with pre-orders starting this Friday. The iPhone 4S starts at $199 for the 16GB model. The iPhone 4 lives on at $99 (8GB), and even the iPhone 3GS (8GB) continues as a free option. All pricing is with a new contract.