SAN FRANCISCO – Apple has a treat for its 58 million users: a new iPhone.
At a widely anticipated event Tuesday at company headquarters, newly minted CEO Tim Cook and a collection of Apple bigwigs took the stage to unveil the latest in its wildly successful line of smartphones: the iPhone 4S.
"The iPhone 4S is the most amazing iPhone yet," Apple vice president Phil Schiller told the crowd.
He said the iPhone 4S -- which sports the same familiar design as the iPhone 4 -- will run faster, thanks to a slew of new components. It'll sport a dual-core A5 processor that's twice as fast as the chip powering the iPhone 4, and the graphics chips are fully seven times faster, the company said. It also has new mobile software that can sync content wirelessly, without having to plug into a Mac or Windows machine -- part of IOS 5.
There had been speculation that Apple would reveal a more radical revision of the phone, an "iPhone 5." The no-show leaves room for speculation that Apple will reveal a new model in less than a year, perhaps one equipped to take advantage of Verizon's and AT&T's new high-speed data networks -- or the Sprint network.
One of the best new features unveiled today: voice recognition, thanks to Siri, a startup Apple bought a year ago. Schiller called it "an intelligent assistant that helps you get things done just by asking."
Ask the device "what's the weather like today?" and you'll get a spoken-word response. That's right, the iPhone 4S will talk back to you.
Apple said the new phone will come in black or white. It will cost $199 for a 16 gigabyte-version, $299 for 32 GB and $399 for 64 GB -- all with a two-year service contract requirement. It will now be available through Sprint Nextel, in addition to the existing carriers, AT&T and Verizon Wireless.
IOS 5 will also be available on Oct. 12 for existing devices -- the iPhone 4 and 3GS, both iPad models and later versions of the iPod Touch.
Apple said Oct. 12 will also mark the launch of its new iCloud service, which will store content such as music, documents, apps and photos on Apple's servers and let people access them wirelessly on numerous devices.
Apple also unveiled a new line of iPods, including a Nano model with a multi-touch display that promises to be easier to navigate. Apple made no mention of its Classic model, which many people had speculated the company might discontinue.
Cook began the event by touting the simply staggering sales figures the company has achieved in recent years: 93 percent of Fortune 500 companies are deploying or testing iPhones, he said. Apple is approaching 60 million Mac users, and boasts 125 percent year-over-year growth in iPhone sales. In a word: wow.
“I love Apple and I consider it the privilege of a lifetime and I’m excited about this new role at Apple,” Cook told the crowd. “10 years ago we launched the original iPod in this room,” he crowed.
Apple made the announcement at its first major product event in years without Steve Jobs presiding. Cook is leading the show after Jobs, who has been battling health problems, resigned from the post in August.
Cook, wearing a navy blue button-down shirt and jeans, opened by calling his nearly 14-year tenure at Apple "the privilege of a lifetime." Those in the audience clapped as he entered, but the reaction seemed more muted than what Jobs had recently received.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.