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Steve Jobs was right about the iPhone 4S

Reported by AAP
Friday, October 28, 2011
Topics in this article:
Apple, Steve Jobs, Iphone
World's kookiest billionairesBillionaires and their eccentric and outlandish publicity stunts.

Apple's legendary co-founder Steve Jobs has a posthumous hit on his hands with the launch of the iPhone 4S, which was unveiled one day before his death on October 5.

PHOTOS: Steve Jobs dead at 56

Perhaps inspired by the passing of the peerless tech visionary, customers have been streaming to Apple stores to buy the company's latest smartphone. In the first weekend alone, they snapped up more than four million of the devices.

Few could have predicted such a rush in the immediate aftermath of the unveiling of the iPhone 4S.

On the day that it was presented to the public, the reaction of the blogosphere, Apple fanboys included, was almost universal disappointment.

Instead of treating its customers to an all-new iPhone 5, they moaned, the relentlessly innovative Apple had merely settled for an upgrade to the iPhone 4, the same design with a better screen, processor and camera.

But Jobs died the next day, and with the benefit of three weeks hindsight it emerges that he was right - yet again - and the critics were wrong.

He bet that one single innovation in the Apple 4S would be enough to silence detractors, establish the new phone as another must-have device and perhaps forge itself as Apple's secret weapon in its death-battle with Google.

That weapon goes by the name of Siri: Apple's new combo of voice recognition and artificial intelligence that is the closest that humankind has yet seen to the kind of digital servants long portrayed in Hollywood fantasies, like the computer HAL in the classic 2001: A Space Odyssey.

Like HAL, Siri is both smart and sassy. In the US it is female, in Britain it is male.

But both versions seem to know the answers to lots of questions and are able to elegantly deflect comments that would be inappropriate if made by one person to another. Siri's deft sense of humour has already spawned numerous websites devoted to quotable answers.

Thus, a comment like "I love you Siri" may prompt an answer like "Oh, I bet you say that to all your Apple products." Ask it to "talk dirty to me" and it might answer "the carpet needs vacuuming."

Questions about the meaning of life have prompted retorts like: "I find it odd you would ask that question of an inanimate object," and "Life: the condition that distinguishes animals and plants from inorganic matter."

But Siri is far more than an amusing conversation piece. Apple bought the basis of Siri from SRI International, the famed Silicon Valley research institution that in past decades was a key player in the developments of the internet and the point-and-click interface, which dominate modern computing.

While Google's Android operating system has enabled voice commands and dictation for a couple of years, Siri goes one better by seeming to understand natural language questions and providing decent answers. You can tell it to find restaurants, check the weather or set reminders.

But Tim Bajarin, the doyen of technology analysts, believes that the all-knowing digital assistant is also a Trojan Horse, linking its users to huge databases that will allow Apple to circumvent the search engines of rivals like Google and Microsoft's Bing to bring information to its customers.

He likens the introduction of Siri to Jobs' championing of the mouse and the touch screen - two watershed moments in the history of computing.

"Jobs and the Apple team have given something to the world that it will look back on and regard as the next major user input technology: voice and speech. But we will also realise that the real breakthrough is in Siri's applied artificial intelligence (AI)," Bajarin commented.

"Use of voice coupled with AI on a consumer product like the iPhone is going to change the way consumers think about man-machine interfaces in the future."

Analysts are already speculating when Siri will be integrated into other Apple products.

They are salivating at the prospect of a Siri-enabled Apple TV, a device that some believe could hit the market next year and grow to become even bigger than Apple's iPhone success in a $US100 billion per year sector.

23/10/2014 16:49Sydney, Australia. 23 October,2014
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