So — no teardrop design, no four-inch screen, and no iPhone 5. Instead, the same design as the iPhone 4. Everything that matters in this update is on the inside.
Apple rarely boasts about the specifications of its products, at least not on the technical side. It doesn’t says much about what it has, focusing instead on how a device can change your experience for the better. The new iPhone 4S has only three significant hardware upgrades — a dual-core A5 chip, an 8MP camera with a new optic and lastly, a dual antenna system that works on both GSM and CDMA networks.
Apple knows that these alone wouldn’t justify the 15 months wait its fans have endured, so it slipped something “magical” into the new device, “to change everything all over again.” I’m referring to Siri.
I’m don’t game much on the iPhone, so I’m not wowed by the chip upgrade. The new camera seems great, but until I’ve seen some real life sample photos, I won’t comment on it. But Siri, the voice-activated artificial intelligence that acts like your personal assistant, is mind blowing. It seems that it was just a while ago such technologies could only be seen in science fiction movies. In about a week or so, it’ll be available to the average consumer.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not a caveman. There are plenty of voice apps out there, but I’ve yet to see anything like Siri. The extent of context that it can make sense of is amazing — from weather to appointments, from text messaging to restaurant booking, from setting alarms to asking for directions, from looking up a stock to playing a song.
All without having to memorize a list of command keywords. Just speak as you normally would and Siri will understand you, sometimes even replying in a human manner. See for yourself:
It’s extensive. It’s awesome. And Apple knows that. That’s the reason it’s making Siri an iPhone 4S exclusive. That’s the only way it can convince existing iPhone 4 users to upgrade.
I’m not saying that iCloud and iOS 5 aren’t worthy our attention. But you can get them on your iPhone 4 or iPhone 3GS as soon as next week. No big deal. You don’t need an iPhone 4S to get hold of all the 200+ new features. Siri is the only significant reason (or excuse, if you wish) to line up for the iPhone 4S.
In 2007, Apple changed the way we interact with our mobile phones. We see fewer keypads and more touchscreens as a result. In 2011, Apple’s changed the way we interact with our mobile phones again.
Will Siri-esque technology become a common feature on any smartphone?
I have a feeling that Google’s not just going to sit by and watch. It could very well be leveraging its know-it-all search engine to build a similar feature for Android. Time will tell.
Update: Turns out that Google had been doing something similar on Android since last year, but lacks the human touch found in Siri. Watch Google’s demonstration on YouTube. In the end of the video, the demonstrator says “Man, that’s a lot to remember,” referring to the list of voice commands. I agree wholeheartedly, and that’s why Siri stands out.