Siri Makes Phone More Useful
I'm falling in love with someone named Siri. She's smart, she's sassy, she answers my questions and she mostly does what I tell her to do. Siri isn't a person -- I wouldn't dare expect the real women in my life to follow my commands. She is the personal assistant built into Apple's new iPhone 4S. And, largely because of Siri, I just put my Android phone on the shelf and switched to the iPhone 4S.
While Android also has voice applications, they're not as smooth or well integrated as Siri. Press the iPhone 4S home button, ask a question and there's a pretty good chance that Siri will find an answer. There is also a good chance that Siri will carry out your verbal commands like "set an alarm for 7:00," "find me the nearest sushi bar" or "give me directions to Susie Smith's house" (assuming Susie's address is in your contact list). You can also use Siri to dictate a text or message. It's not perfect -- there were a few times when it misinterpred my voice -- but it was mostly pretty accurate.
Fit and Finish
Another reason I made the switch is just the fit and finish of the iPhone, inside and out. Like the physically identical iPhone 4, the 4S just feels good in the hand -- a testament to the late Steve Jobs' keen sense of design. But the operating system is equally refined. Unlike Android -- which is powerful but a bit clunky -- iOS 5 does what it does elegantly, even though it might not have the potential to do quite as many things as an Android device.
Of course, the iPhone 4S also has some hardware improvements over its predecessors, including a faster A5 chip and a much improved 8 megapixel camera. I'm not much of a game player, but -- for those who are -- the faster chip definitely improves performance. What I can feel is a snappier response compared to the iPhone 4 and most other touch screen phones, including recent Android phones I've tested.
iCloud is another plus. True, Google had cloud services long before Apple, but I like the way iCloud makes it easy to sync music between my PC and various iOS devices. Before I left the Apple store, the music I had purchased on iTunes was wirelessly and automatically transferred to my new 4S.
Although setting up the new iPhone 4S went smoothly, I can't say the same for my experience upgrading my iPad and iPod Touch iOS 5. Like a lot of other users, I had some initial problems, which -- with the help of Apple support -- I was finally able to work out.
It's now possible to use an iPhone on Sprint in addition to AT&T and Verizon. While all three networks have pretty good coverage, I chose Sprint because of its pricing plans, which include a $99 a month "Simply Everything" plan that covers unlimited voice, data and messaging. Also, the iPhone 4S is able to work in Europe and other countries that use GSM phone plans and I'm told that Sprint will unlock the phone for "customers in good standing" so that it will be possible to use less expensive local phone services when overseas.
I Could Switch Back
With technology, nothing is forever. While Apple may have the latest and greatest right now, there is certainly the possibility that I might change my tune depending on how rich and creamy Google's upcoming Ice Cream Sandwich Android operating system turns out to be. The good thing about competition is that all players have an incentive to outdo the others and -- with its enormous resources -- I have no doubt that Google will do all it can to outclass Apple.
This post has been updated since its original publication.
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