iThing, I Think I Love You

If you read my last post, you know that I recently upgraded to the new iPhone 4s.

You’ll also be pleased to know that I managed to finally get that whole “drunken gibberish password debacle” sorted out and now not only do I have an iPhone 4s, I can actually use the thing.

Since I was only upgrading from an iPhone 4 (which I had dutifully performed the software update to iOS5 on already), I wondered if upgrading to a mere ‘S’ model was a waste of my hard earned money and I should just sit tight and wait for the iPhone 5 like the rational people.

But…you know me, rationality is generally not a factor (and neither is patience for that matter).

I’m sure you’ve already perused the ever-growing reviews online about the iPhone 4s, so I won’t bore you with technical breakdowns, specifications or comparisons to the iPhone 4. What I will bore you with is my own personal impression as a user.

First off, when they say the ‘S’ in these S upgrades is for speed, they mean it. The thing BLAZES. I read somewhere that this new processor is something like 7 times faster than the old one. Believe it. I really didn’t think it would be noticeably faster, but I was wrong. From boot speed to app downloads to the camera, its really amazingly fast.

Really, the ‘S’ can stand for whatever you want it to with this phone – speed, Steve,  or even sh*t this phone is awesome.

I know people are kvetching about the fact that there were no changes to the form factor.  Really??!!  I’m no fashionista, but I do tend to buy more than one case for my phone – different colors, sparkly vs matte, even the occasional character (aka Hello Kitty) – and since they tend to run around $20 to $35, I personally was THRILLED to find no external changes. This means I can go out and get that Angry Birds case I’ve been eyeing when it goes on clearance instead of starting my case collection from scratch. Again.

Buying a new phone without having to pony up for all new accessories too… Where do I sign?

As for me, I think the ‘S’ stands for Siri.  I used to have the app, back when it was just another app in the iTunes store and I loved it. I used it several times a week and found it to be far, far superior to other similarly themed apps which shall remain nameless (but that rhyme with “wagon”). To be honest, the fact that they took away my Siri and made it exclusive to the iPhone 4s was the main reason I coughed up the money to upgrade.

That and the fact that I’m a gadget whore.

Suffice to say, when I got my phone up and running (for reals, not drunk up and running), the first thing I did was play with Siri, and as a former user who already loved it, having it fully integrated now is pure, unadulterated genius. It’s like the old “Voice Control” but on ‘roids. Really, really good ‘roids.

She can manage your calendar. She reminds you of stuff. She can “learn” who the important people in your life are and text, email or call them by whatever you call them. Now I use Siri, not several times a week, but constantly throughout the day. I can’t believe how beyond useful this thing has become.

“Remind me to go pick up blah, blah, blah when I leave work” and it will cue me when I pull out of the office parking lot. You read that right. It can remind you of things when you arrive at a location or when you leave one.

“Do I have any appointments on x day at y time?” and it will check my calendar for me.

“Schedule a meeting with yada, yada, yada, tomorrow at 2pm” and she does!

I say ‘she’ because the English US voice is female. I was mildly bummed that I couldn’t use the male English UK voice because he only apparently works in, say it with me, in the UK. But I can live with it. I don’t need my personal digital assistant to sound like a hot guy…I just need it to keep track of my life.

Yes, you can ask her pointless things like, “How much wood would a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood” (the answer by the way is 42), what the average penis size is for an American male (which got a reply of, “I’ll just pretend I didn’t hear that”) or whatever entertaining thing you can come up with for hours upon end, but I’m here to tell you that when the novelty wears off you will be amazed at the USEFUL things she can do for you.

Here are just a few ways I’ve already come to rely on Siri:

1. “Wake me up at…” – As my alarm clock every morning. While I have always used the built in Clock app as my morning alarm, in my job different days have different schedules so I had a lot of custom alarms set. Now before I go to bed I just tell Siri to wake me up at whatever time the following day requires.

2. “Send an email to…” – My one beef with the iPhone over, say, a Blackberry has been the lack of a real keyboard.  Simply stated, I suck at typing on the little touch keys. But now I just tell Siri to compose my emails and text messages and voila, no more fodder for the auto-correct blunders websites.

3. “Remind me to…” – Three words, Re.  Mind.  Ers. Unbefreakinglievable how much better the already pretty cool iOS5 addition of the Reminder app becomes when you add Siri to the mix.  No typing required, you just hold the iPhone 4s up to your face (with it on, obviously), listen for the Siri tone and say, “Remind me to…” and a reminder will be set for you. I make SO much more use this tool now that I don’t have to type my reminders out.  And, if you are using iCloud, your reminders will show up everywhere. No excuses for missing anything now!

4. “Where the heck is…” – Last night I was invited to an event in a town I had never even heard of. Before responding, I wanted to know what I was getting myself into. So I asked Siri. She showed it to me on a map, provided me with driving directions and told me what the weather was forecast to be when the event was being held. She even found me several pet friendly hotels close by.

5. “When is …” – Yes, it will remind me of when my next dentist appointment is, but you can also query when your next meeting with So and So is and if you suddenly realize you are in no way prepared for it,  you can have Siri reschedule it.  You can ask when someone’s birthday is (then set a reminder so you don’t forget it again), when Daylight savings time begins or ends, what day of the week Chanukah falls on this year. You get the idea.

I think what impresses me the most is that you talk to Siri just like you would a person standing next to you. Naturally. In common vernacular.  And it understands, not only what you say but also what you mean. I don’t know how (and frankly I really don’t care) but it is far and away the easiest most intuitive bit of technology I have ever used.

To beat a well-worn phrase into the ground, it just works. Siri works right out of the gate, but even after only a couple of days it is learning. About my voice, inflections, my key people, their nicknames, etc.

I never expected to open up a new device and within 24 hours be able to say to it, “Text my sister and tell her I’m on my way” and have that be that.

Another thing I never expected, was how downright endearing a productivity tool could be.  Now that I think of it, its probably a good thing Siri doesn’t have a male voice, or I might just fall in love…

...I rest my case

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4 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Millie
    Oct 19, 2011 @ 18:25:39

    I Really want one. I’m still on the 3Gs.

  2. Kate Bernasconi
    Oct 19, 2011 @ 22:19:32

    Good review! Has got me thinking about upgrading when my 3GS contract runs out next year!
    But I would like to know how it will work in relation to your daily Filofax? Will you use them both, or do you think your filo will become obselete?

  3. thezeitgeistofzoe
    Oct 20, 2011 @ 12:42:17

    @kate, that is an excellent point and i have actually been thinking a lot about that over the last few days. i need to see how this new addition (siri) shakes out in relation to my filo, then i plan to do a post about how i use it/them.

    if you guys are still on the 3gs then you will be super-duper happy with this new phone!!

  4. Vgrovpro
    Oct 22, 2011 @ 13:22:34

    Fantastic review. Thanks!

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