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The “Wow” element to iPhone 4S comes from Siri, the on-board “virtual assistant” that uses voice recognition and lets you speak commands and queries to set it into action. Siri comes with a female voice, and is by far the best voice recognition technology we’ve yet seen in a mobile device. Siri is built to understand your voice, regardless of linguistics, right out of the box.
Within a couple of hours, it just feels intuitive to use your voice to tell Siri to write a reminder for you in the Reminder app, to schedule an event for you in your calendar, to send an SMS message or to make a phone call. It quickly becomes natural to use your voice to query Siri about the weather, about schedule conflicts and availability and more--– and have Siri’s voice respond with the answer. To other questions -- like if you want to know where a good Thai restaurant is located -- Siri will do the work of running a Google search for you, and then let you know when the text of the search results are listed on the screen. Siri won’t read your email yet, or results of a web search, but it can read you text messages and respond to them, and it can read your calendar back to you with its voice.
You can’t yet tell Siri to “book me a reservation for four at Mama Mia’s Restaurant,” and have it spring into action. But Apple’s technology is so powerful that it’s clear that enterprising software developers will be able to make actions like that happen through new apps in the not-too-distant future.
In fact, with the A5 CPU and the iOS 5 operating software, Apple has delivered a platform that could enable the best software developers to build on the best aspects of Siri for both business and consumer apps, that will in turn force still more changes to use patterns than we can even imagine today. Siri could well be the founding mother of a new generation of voice-based apps that alter information technology very radically. With iPhone 4S, you can start using Siri and get in at the ground level.