The iPhone 4S looks exactly like its best-selling predecessor, but it has had a major internal revamp. The big news is that the fifth-generation smartphone "thinks different," thanks to its voice-controlled artificial-intelligence system called Siri. Writing for the Wall Street Journal, Walt Mossberg decides Siri is impressive but has "imperfect accuracy"—it can't read the contents of email or give you movie times. Still, it has potential. It just isn't enough to make the iPhone 4S a game-changer. Others, however, disagree:
- Writing for the New York Times, David Pogue praises the "crazy good, transformative, category-redefining speech recognition." He loves Siri's voice ("uncomplaining," "calm female"), the ease in which you can use it ("you don’t even have to hold the phone up to your head"), and its smarts (when he tried to make a Thursday afternoon appointment, Siri reminded him he already had an all-day meeting scheduled). While he agrees it's not perfect, "Siri saves time, fumbling, and distraction, and profoundly changes the definition of 'phone.'"
- In the Washington Post, Joshua Topolsky heaps similar praise upon Siri, which he calls one of the "most meaningful updates" to grace the iPhone. And while he, too, notes that it doesn't work all the time, his assessment is that "the crazy thing about Siri is that it works ... better than you’d expect. It understands and responds to you in a way that’s so natural it can sometimes be unsettling."
- In a very lengthy look at Siri on Daring Fireball, John Gruber heralds it as Apple's return to an "AI-focused ambition." Before Siri, "iOS struck me [as] being designed to make it easy for us to do things. Siri is designed to do things for us." After a week spent using it, could he live without it? Yes. "But I can say that I don’t want to."
(Cute sidenote, compliments of Mossberg: "When I asked it 'What's the best phone?' it said, 'Wait… there are other phones?'")