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Apple Delivers iPhone 4S With Siri Voice “Assistant,” Disappoints On iPhone 5
The Apple iPhone keynote just ended and as you probably already know there was no iPhone 5. What was announced was an interim iPhone 4S, which has a faster processor, iOS 5, improved camera/video camera and will work with both CDMA and GSM networks. So it’s a “world phone.”
In the US it will reportedly be offered by three out of the four major carriers. T-Mobile was left out. However the phone doesn’t appear yet on the Sprint website.
The Wall Street Journal had run a much publicized article on how Sprint was paying $20 billion over three years to Apple for some kind of exclusive on the “iPhone 5.” Any evidence of that arrangement was totally absent, just like the iPhone 5 itself.
Apple also finally rolled out its voice “assistant” Siri, which was further developed and enhanced after the acquisition of the company of the same name last year by Apple. Siri emerges as a more polished version of Android’s Voice Actions and has the capacity to substitute for search (especially local search) in some situations. We’ll have to play with it “hands on” before any conclusions can be drawn about how useful it is or how much search it can/might replace.
Among other things Siri can operate as a voice front end (actual speech processing is provided by Nuance) on directions: users will be able to ask for directions to place X and be taken to a (Google) map. However the iPhone itself doesn’t deliver turn by turn navigation as Google does. There are third party iPhone apps that can however.
Google and the whole Android ecosystem can breathe a sigh of relief. Fewer people will be buying the iPhone 4S, which seems like an incremental upgrade, than probably would have bought a redesigned iPhone 5. Disappointments include: lack of a larger screen and the lack of 4G support — though Apple tried to claim that its 4S would be just as fast as some 4G phones.
While the 4S is likely to sell well it won’t stop Android’s momentum. Android phones now have sexier hardware and new ones are being released monthly. The iPhone’s design feels somewhat “stale” by comparison. Overall the guts of the device are a significant upgrade from the iPhone 4, however.
There is an iPhone 5 in development. It probably has a different physical appearance and a larger screen. The question is what’s holding back its release and when will we see it?
There’s a ton of additional coverage and commentary on Techmeme.
Postscript: See our follow-up post, With New Siri Promised For iPhone 4S, Apple Pulls Existing Siri From App Store.
Postscript 2: Here’s an Apple commercial of the new Siri in action:
CNET has a live demo they did, though they seem to be asking some of the same questions that Apple demoed
Postscript 3: See our follow-up post: How Siri Patches Up The iPhone’s Voice Search Weakness Vs. Android.