OCTOBER SAW THE PASSing of Steve Jobs, the cofounder of Apple Computers, and the visionary inspiration that drove the company from the brink of extinction to overtake Microsoft as the world's biggest technology company.
Jobs was one of those rare examples of a person who leads change as opposed to simply trying to keep up with it. Not only did he appear to know what we wanted before we knew we wanted it, he even went so far as to tell us we were wrong about the things we said we did not want: the tablet computer had fallen flat when it was first introduced, but Jobs produced the iPad anyway, and it turned out he had been right all along.
From computers that are beautiful to behold as well as easy to use, elegant and powerful MP3 players, smartphones that are limited, it seems, only by our own imaginations, tablet computers and more besides, the question of who will lead the industry into its next phase of innovation is an intriguing one. For now, though, there are plenty of new and exciting gadgets to excite the Middle Eastern consumer.
Last month Apple unveiled the iPhone 4S running the new iOS 5 operating system. Aesthetically identical on the outside, the incremental upgrade is very different under the skin. The phone, available in black or white, and in 16GB, 32GB or 64GB, Apple boast is seven times faster than its predecessor, thanks to its new dual-core A5 chip and dual-core graphics. This improved performance, however, they say does not come at the expense of battery life, which they claim has been improved.
Most exciting is its voice-recognition ability, improved since the iPhone 4 to be able to understand context. The promise is that you can ask your phone to do something for you and it will just do it, whether it be speaking the weather forecast, telling you all about the latest share prices or reading your emails out loud, allowing you to dictate the reply without having to type a single word. Initially, the software will only support English, French and German, but more languages will follow.
Another big new feature is iMessage, which like Blackberry's messenger, allows users to send messages to each other while not eating into their text allowance. If you have an unlimited data plan, then this service is ostensibly free.
The camera has also been improved, now coming with eight megapixels, better sensor technology and higher performance in low light, which has all whetted the appetite of...