Wednesday, November 2, 2011

To Siri With Love

My new iPhone 4s arrived earlier this week and it was great to finally be able to experience it first hand. After all, I had read so much about the device and its special features including the voice activated assistant Siri, I couldn't wait to see if it was all as good as everyone said.

I wanted to be disappointed and find reasons to dislike the iPhone, but I have to be honest; it's pretty damn cool. You take it out of the box, peel the protective plastic off the screen and back and turn it on. No need to read instructions. The device will take you through a start up tutorial and collect everything it needs to know in a just a few simple screens. Then, you are ready to go.

As soon as you plug the iPhone in to a USB port of your desktop iTunes will launch and make a connection. First it verifies that the software in the iPhone is up to date and then it takes care of synchronizing the audio collection and other things. My entire audio collection now resides on the iPhone.

After adding the phone number to my Google Voice settings I began to receive calls. Coverage in my immediate area has been very good and, as a result, the call quality has been too. Although limited to 3G, data rates feel just as smooth and fast as my android device. No issues surfing the web.

Entering my Microsoft mail credentials allowed the iPhone to deliver and synchronize flawlessly. The interface is simple and highly functional. All my appointments and contacts are there.

Adding the Google Plus application, Foursquare and Shazam was quick and easy, and they too performed extremely well. Using the Safai browser I am able to use the mobile GMail site and access all of my Google applications. This too works extremely well and a native GMail application is rumored to be coming soon, too.

Of course the real fun began when I started to talk to Siri. A little mechanical in her tone, Siri is pretty helpful and can actually answer simple questions and perform useful tasks. She does not do well in noisy environments where most voice activated systems have trouble. But I was impressed with how Siri learned and built up knowledge about me. The first time I said call my wife Siri responded, "I don't know who that is." Giving Siri the name allowed her to find it in my contact list, verify it with me and ask if she should remember this. The next time I said call my wife Siri asked which phone number, office or mobile. If I was more specific, call my wife on her cell, Siri confirmed and dialed.

There were other reasons I wanted to have an iPhone. I'm reviewing some add on components which I will write about in another column, and my new BMW came with "APPS" which is a comprehensive interface to an iPhone that integrates the iPhone and a number of applications into the operations of the car.

More testing remains, yet it is abundantly clear this is a very impressive device. I thought it would be easy at the end of the week to put it back in the box and carry on with my android device. Now I am not so sure.

Siri, please play "Breaking Up Is Hard To Do."  Ironically, she plays, "I Don't Know How To Let You Go."  You can't make this stuff up.

Captain Joe

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