Apple is holding an event in San Francisco during which it announced a new iPhone, capable of faster data speeds and sporting a taller screen. It also unveiled new iTunes software and new iPod devices.
The iPhone 5 will go on sale next week. It will work with fourth-generation, or 4G, cellular networks, something Samsung's Galaxy S III and many other iPhone rivals already do.
Apple Inc. is also updating its phone software and will ditch Google Inc.'s mapping service for its own. The two have become bitter rivals as Google promotes phones running its Android operating system.
In anticipation, several gadget makers refreshed their lineups last week, hoping to upstage Apple. Nokia Corp. and Google Inc.'s Motorola Mobility division announced five new smartphones between them, while Amazon.com Inc. updated its Kindle Fire tablet computer and announced new stand-alone e-reader models.
Sales of Apple's iPhones are still strong, though the company lost the lead in smartphones to Samsung this year.
Samsung Electronics Co. benefited from having its S III out in the U.S. in June, while Apple was still selling an iPhone model it released last October. A new iPhone will allow Apple to recapture the attention and the revenue. Analysts are already estimating that Apple will sell 8 million to 10 million iPhone 5s before the company's quarter ends Sept. 30.
Even if consumers swarm stores to buy the device, the iPhone has been trailing Android phones in sales. On Tuesday, Google executive Hugo Barra declared on his Google Plus social networking page that 1.3 million Android phones are added each day, with 500 million devices activated globally. As of June, Apple has sold 244 million iPhones since the first one came out in 2007.
Apple's event Wednesday took place at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts Theater, where the company has held many product launches.
Here's a running account of the event, presented in reverse chronological order. All times are PDT. Appearances were made by CEO Tim Cook; Philip Schiller, the senior vice president for worldwide marketing; Scott Forstall, senior vice president for mobile software; Eddy Cue, senior vice president for Internet software and services; and others.
Before closing the event, the Foo Fighters dedicate the song "My Hero" to Apple employees. Lead singer Dave Grohl gushes as he compares Apple executives to meeting leading rock stars such as Little Richard, Tom Petty and Jimmy Page.
The event ends with the song "Walk," after which the audience gives a standing ovation.
Apple's stock, which increased earlier during the event, were down $1.58, or a quarter of 1 percent, to $659.01 as the event concluded.
The Grammy-winning band Foo Fighters appears on stage after Cook praised Apple's employees for "doing the best work of their lives, work that has real significance because developing revolutionary products makes a real difference in people's lives."
Siri, the virtual assistant launched on the iPhone last year, is coming to the iPod Touch for the first time. Apple already has said Siri will appear on the iPad with the new software update.
Meanwhile, the iconic white earbuds are getting an update. Now called EarPods, they sport an earpiece that is more cylinder. Apple says they were built to meld to the shape of your ear. The EarPods go on sale Wednesday as a stand-alone accessory and will be included with new devices out in October.
Apple is updating the iPod Touch — essentially an iPhone without the ability to make calls. Like the new iPhone and the new iPod Nano, it will use the new connector, which Apple calls Lightning. It will have a 5-megapixel camera and the same panorama feature as the new iPhone. It will be possible to edit photos on the Touch for the first time.
Although the new iPhone was the big announcement, Apple also unveiled a new version of its iTunes software for traditional computers.
There are new ways to create playlists and to decide what to listen to next. It also promises improved search — as you type the name of an album, for instance, those in your music library will be suggested.
The iTunes software comes with a new mini player — a small window from which you can play songs while you are still in your music library.
The new software will come out in late October.
Apple is also refreshing its iPod Nano. The seventh generation of the device is thinner than the previous one, with a bigger display at 2.5 inches. It now has a home button similar to that on the iPhone and the iPad. It also will come with Bluetooth wireless capability, allowing you to stream music.