Apple's Siri personal assistant a driving force in selling iPhone 4S

Posted:
in iPhone edited January 2014
Apple's sales records in selling the new iPhone 4S, accompanied by record launch figures announced by AT&T, Verizon and Sprint, is largely attributable to its signature Siri feature for natural voice processing, an analyst notes.



Shaw Wu of Sterne Agee wrote in a note to investors that "despite global macroeconomic headwinds, Apple continues to defy conventional wisdom with a higher-end product mix," adding that in ?talking to industry sources, what?s driving the 4S is better than expected reception of its new Siri software.?



Many pundits and some initial reviews of the iPhone 4S failed to see the attraction of Siri, hoping instead to jump on the bandwagon of criticism focusing on the "disappointment" that the latest iPhone wouldn't be named "iPhone 5."



Others confused Siri with simple voice recognition features already incorporated into Google's Android, Microsoft's Windows Phone 7, and which are already available for iOS and other mobile platforms via third party apps.



Andy Rubin, the head of Android development at Google, insisted that he doesn't "believe that your phone should be an assistant" like Siri, while Microsoft's Andy Lees of WP7 was quick to say he didn't think the new service was "super useful," indicating his company would avoid having its users speak commands to their phones in public.



But it's selling iPhone 4S



However, Wu notes that Siri isn't just Apple's take on voice recognition. "What makes Siri unique and different is that its voice recognition works well (unlike competing solutions which are unreliable) and also offers artificial intelligence (AI) in helping interpret user commands and answer questions.?



Wu reiterated a Buy rating for Apple and forecast sales of 26 million iPhones in the fourth calendar quarter.



Siri works as both a natural voice interface for navigating and editing local information, such as calendar, contacts, reminders, notes and emails, as well as an assistant interface for searching the web via conventional search engines (including Google, Yahoo and Microsoft's Bing) or specialized web services such as Yelp local search, Yahoo Weather and Stocks, or Wolfram Alpha.



As a natural voice assistant, Siri can be expanded by Apple to provide access to new types of web services, as its ability to interact with new apps, including Apple's Find My Friends, suggests that iOS will eventually enable users to use Siri to interact with third party apps, beyond the voice recognition that already works in many apps that use standard keyboard input.



While Siri requires a data connection to work, tests monitoring the amount of data Siri uses to provide its results indicate that the service uses very little data per request.



Apple's Siri is exclusive to the iPhone 4S, although hacks indicate it could work on earlier iPhone 4 models, iPod touch, and iPads, although its performance appears to be optimized for the A5 chip released this year. Apple may also eventually bring a form of the service to Mac OS X users.







Apple says the new service is regarded as being in "beta," and currently understands American, Australian and UK English, as well as French and German. Apple has promised that Siri will gain support for additional languages in 2012 including Japanese, Chinese, Korean, Italian and Spanish.

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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 31
    The more I use Siri, the more I like Siri.



    Here's something I wrote elsewhere in response to a person who was lamenting that Siri isn't very useful for them. I think it sums up my thoughts above quite well.



    "I've actually been pleasantly surpassed how frequently I use it—goofing off aside. I definitely use it for the "Call John Doe" feature, but I also use it for text messages on occasion (sometimes to initiate the message, sometimes to dictate it), text dictation, setting timers and reminders, playing music (including playlists or creating genius playlists), map lookups and directions, initiating searches, and a little more as I gradually figure out more about it.



    "Outside the Apple-specific features, I've found I'm using WolframAlpha queries more and more, and this use is gradually scaling with how much more familiar I'm becoming with WolframAlpha. It can actually do some pretty fantastic stuff. Hint: you can say, "Wolfram, [search]". for example, "Wolfram, what is the scientific name for weasel", or "Wolfram, random integer below 21". Edit: the more I think of it, the more I realize I use Siri for. There's math, unit conversion, information gathering (e.g. asking who someone is, or getting the definition of a word), and more. WolframAlpha has some good examples which might be made to work.



    "I thought it might be good, but I didn't expect to use it for a whole lot. I never used the old iOS 4 voice control feature. I'm not sure if my fondness for Siri is because I've been using it more to become comfortable and familiar with it, or if it just has to do with my specific circumstances."
  • Reply 2 of 31
    Well it should be. It's a wonderful feature. The best voice recognition I have used. Who remembers the crappy voice control on iOS 3 or whatever version it was. It was awful! They finally got it right. I can see a lot of people using this feature, whether they are experienced with technology or a noob, I think it's a very helpful feature for all types of users.
  • Reply 3 of 31
    MacProMacPro Posts: 17,778member
    Siri is a member of the family now! The cat is jealous.
  • Reply 4 of 31
    hmurchisonhmurchison Posts: 12,128member
    I don't have my 4s yet but in just dinking around I've found it great to do those basic tasks like setting reminders,clocks and sending short bursts of communication trivially easy for those without a speech impediment.
  • Reply 5 of 31
    MacProMacPro Posts: 17,778member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by hmurchison View Post


    I don't have my 4s yet but in just dinking around I've found it great to do those basic tasks like setting reminders,clocks and sending short bursts of communication trivially easy for those without a speech impediment.



    Your correct she is amazing. Here is a great quote from Mac Rumors on this subject:



    Siri changed everything for me

    The naysayers who don't find Siri terribly valuable amaze me. I use seriously 10x PER HOUR. If I want to send an email, I use Siri. For every calendar item I create (I'm a lawyer, I create a lot) I use Siri. For every deadline, reminder, appointment, telephone call, etc. I use Siri. When I want to split a tab at the restaurant, I use Siri to figure the tip and the split. To settle a debate I invariably use Siri. To set an alarm I use Siri. To set a cooking timer I use Siri. I asked Siri to learn my best friend's nickname and when I want to facetime him, or my kids, or my fiance, I use Siri. When I want to create a grocery list, I use Siri. When I want to listen to a song by Madonna I use Siri. To send a text, of course, I use Siri. When I need to remember to do something which I would surely otherwise forget, I use Siri. When I want to make a call, I use Siri. This is the functionality I've been wanting for years.



    There's a brand new book available on the Kindle (and maybe elsewhere) called Talking to Siri: Learning the Language of Apple's Intelligent Assistant by Steve and Erica Sande (from TUAW) that sells for $4.99. Well worth the price.



    Siri is not 100% perfect, but I don't believe that it needs to be in order to add tremendous value. Frankly, at 80% it's phenomenal. I think its accuracy is somewhere around 94-96%, and only getting better.

    __________________
  • Reply 6 of 31
    solipsismsolipsism Posts: 25,726member
    I've been thinking about how the Siri APIs might work. I see a lot of pitfalls from giving too much control to 3rd-party devs.



    For instance, it would be convenient to speak your Chess with Friends move instead of having to manually move it or even look at the display for those keeping a mental track of previous moves or asking Siri, "Who signs this song?" to have it auto-access and start Shazam, but how much control is too much and how to keep devs from making overly silly requests. (I understand that some might think speaking chess moves or querying Shazam as overly silly).



    I suppose they could make you select which apps will work like with Location Services and Push Notifications, but the first one is local and the later has a component maintained by the devs. How would this affect Apple's servers f a half-billion apps want APIs that Siri can understand? But that seems like a long way off since Siri still only knows 3 dialects of English, German and French and mostly only works in the US when using internet features.



    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Xian Zhu Xuande View Post


    The more I use Siri, the more I like Siri.



    Here's something I wrote elsewhere in response to a person who was lamenting that Siri isn't very useful for them. I think it sums up my thoughts above quite well.



    "I've actually been pleasantly surpassed how frequently I use it—goofing off aside. I definitely use it for the "Call John Doe" feature, but I also use it for text messages on occasion (sometimes to initiate the message, sometimes to dictate it), text dictation, setting timers and reminders, playing music (including playlists or creating genius playlists), map lookups and directions, initiating searches, and a little more as I gradually figure out more about it.



    "Outside the Apple-specific features, I've found I'm using WolframAlpha queries more and more, and this use is gradually scaling with how much more familiar I'm becoming with WolframAlpha. It can actually do some pretty fantastic stuff. Hint: you can say, "Wolfram, [search]". for example, "Wolfram, what is the scientific name for weasel", or "Wolfram, random integer below 21". Edit: the more I think of it, the more I realize I use Siri for. There's math, unit conversion, information gathering (e.g. asking who someone is, or getting the definition of a word), and more. WolframAlpha has some good examples which might be made to work.



    "I thought it might be good, but I didn't expect to use it for a whole lot. I never used the old iOS 4 voice control feature. I'm not sure if my fondness for Siri is because I've been using it more to become comfortable and familiar with it, or if it just has to do with my specific circumstances."



    I can see the Wolfram-Alpha queries being especially good for saving time and effort.
  • Reply 7 of 31
    sandausandau Posts: 1,230member
    timers, reminders and alarms are worth it for me. so easy to do vs that craptastic ical.
  • Reply 8 of 31
    kotatsukotatsu Posts: 1,010member
    Siri is far less impressive in the UK. Although it's supposed to understand standard English, and I have a non accented English accent, it's accuracy is very unimpressive. I'd estimate 50%, tops.



    Worse, many of siri's features are US only.



    It feels half baked at best, and for an Apple product, that's highly unusual. Still, I guess the sales figures prove the, right in artificially restricting it to the 4S despite older devices being perfectly capable of running it.
  • Reply 9 of 31
    solipsismsolipsism Posts: 25,726member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by kotatsu View Post


    It feels half baked at best, and for an Apple product, that's highly unusual. Still, I guess the sales figures prove the, right in artificially restricting it to the 4S despite older devices being perfectly capable of running it.



    It is Beta so feeling it's half-baked shouldn't surprise anyone. The unusual part is that Apple not only released a Beta to the world like a Google would do, but also has advertised this as a prominent feature. That said, I say this type of service is the reason why it needed real world data mining. It's also a big step for Apple. I assume they had some trouble letting this out knowing it wouldn't be nearly identical across all markets at once.
  • Reply 10 of 31
    jd_in_sbjd_in_sb Posts: 1,482member
    I am on record here, stating more than once, that the iPhone 4S would be the first model of iPhone I haven't owned. I quickly changed by mind when I tried Siri in the Apple store. In my opinion Siri is as big a leap forward as multi-touch was. I use Siri throughout the day, every day. It very tangibly makes my interaction with the iPhone easier.
  • Reply 11 of 31
    jonoromjonorom Posts: 293member
    All the posts to date, while rightfully celebrating Siri, are missing the point. The analyst says everyone is buying the 4S BECAUSE of Siri. Like all those 4M people who purchased the 4S on the first weekend would have waited for the iP5 otherwise, or even bought Android. Right, and 75% were upgrading and most of those almost certainly owned the 3GS.



    What a load of bullcr*p.
  • Reply 12 of 31
    irelandireland Posts: 17,474member
  • Reply 13 of 31
    dunksdunks Posts: 1,229member
    Siri is great. The other day I was listening to music on the way home from the gym and I was able read and reply to text messages as I walked to the bus stop all without taking my iPhone out of my gym bag.



    I wouldn't say Siri is reason alone to upgrade. For me that was the enhanced graphics of the A5 chip, the kick ass camera and the new 64 GB capacity. The fact I was upgrading from a second gen iPod touch and a $50 Nokia helped. Other's mileage may vary.
  • Reply 14 of 31
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by JONOROM View Post


    All the posts to date, while rightfully celebrating Siri, are missing the point. The analyst says everyone is buying the 4S BECAUSE of Siri. Like all those 4M people who purchased the 4S on the first weekend would have waited for the iP5 otherwise, or even bought Android. Right, and 75% were upgrading and most of those almost certainly owned the 3GS.



    What a load of bullcr*p.



    Siri was a significant part of my buying decision.

    Actually, it was probably the most significant individual part.



    To approach it from another angle, I probably wouldn't have purchased the iPhone 4S if not for Siri, but conversely, I wouldn't have purchased the iPhone 4S for Siri alone—the other enhancements were important to my decision.
  • Reply 15 of 31
    tylerk36tylerk36 Posts: 1,037member
    I have an iPhone 4 and want the 4S. I have learned that the 4S requires about 32K data per usage of Siri. Now if you add that up over a month of use that can use up some 20MB. Thats 5 Siri enquiries a day. I learned this from Mac Rumors. They had a post that explained Siri data usage over the cell network. Here is the plans.



    \t 200MB\t2GB\t 4GB

    \t$15.00\t$25.00\t$45.00



    I suppose that if a person wanted the continuous use of Siri daily the most that could be used would be 100MB mane a little more. Add that to pictures being sent over the air non wifi one may want to get the 2GB plan.



    I guess to have Siri totally built into a Phone, the phone would have to have one massive amount of memory and have a database built in or maybe a chip to handle the program. Would make the phone rather larger than it currently is. Oh well. I might get one any way.
  • Reply 16 of 31
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post


    ...indicating his company would avoid having its users speak commands to their phones in public.



    Yes, because I want a company to dictate what I do with my own phone in public. I don't see Microsoft making a concerted effort to keep me from texting while doing 120MPH down I-5, yet they're adamant about not wanting me to "talk to my phone in public"?



    What a crock of nadsat.
  • Reply 17 of 31
    jonoromjonorom Posts: 293member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Xian Zhu Xuande View Post


    Siri was a significant part of my buying decision.

    Actually, it was probably the most significant individual part.



    To approach it from another angle, I probably wouldn't have purchased the iPhone 4S if not for Siri, but conversely, I wouldn't have purchased the iPhone 4S for Siri alone?the other enhancements were important to my decision.



    Sure, and I am buying one for my wife next weekend and am overjoyed about Siri being included - it is a wonderful bonus for sure, thAt is perfect for my tech-klutz wife.



    But I was going to buy the new iPhone for her no matter what. She was due.
  • Reply 18 of 31
    jonoromjonorom Posts: 293member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Xian Zhu Xuande View Post


    Siri was a significant part of my buying decision.

    Actually, it was probably the most significant individual part.



    To approach it from another angle, I probably wouldn't have purchased the iPhone 4S if not for Siri, but conversely, I wouldn't have purchased the iPhone 4S for Siri alone?the other enhancements were important to my decision.



    The other thing that bugs me about this analyst (and this article) is that the analyst hasn't surveyed even ONE buyer to come up with his opinion. If he had talked to you, he would have had some actual data.
  • Reply 19 of 31
    hmurchisonhmurchison Posts: 12,128member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by macinthe408 View Post


    Yes, because I want a company to dictate what I do with my own phone in public. I don't see Microsoft making a concerted effort to keep me from texting while doing 120MPH down I-5, yet they're adamant about not wanting me to "talk to my phone in public"?



    What a crock of nadsat.





    Google



    "We don't want to implement a technology that minimizes your need to search google.com servers for information thusly bypassing our data-mining"



    Rubin couldn't be any more transparent.
  • Reply 20 of 31
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by jd_in_sb View Post


    I am on record here, stating more than once, that the iPhone 4S would be the first model of iPhone I haven't owned. I quickly changed by mind when I tried Siri in the Apple store. In my opinion Siri is as big a leap forward as multi-touch was. I use Siri throughout the day, every day. It very tangibly makes my interaction with the iPhone easier.



    And, Siri is fun to work with... We all need a little fun each day!
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