I admit it, I was excited last Friday to arrive home and find my shiny new iPhone 4s waiting for me. Ever since the announcement several days ago, I was very interesting in seeing what the new features could do for me. I was also interested in how the new iCloud service would play into the overall ecosystem. I immediately ripped open the package like a little kid at Christmas and got it activated and setup.
Let’s start with the basics. The new A5 processor does indeed make a noticeable impact on performance, and the upgraded camera is an improvement as well. Perhaps the most underrated change is the addition of the smudge-resistant coating on the phone. This was the same as what was done with the iPad 2, but having this on the iPhone was awesome. I went 3 days before feeling compelled to wipe it off with a 3M Lens and Electronics Cloth. Perhaps the most-hyped functionality is Siri - the digital assistant that provides hands-free access to the phone’s features. That description does not do it justice, in practice. Although it took me a bit to get used to what it could do well, I have learned quite a bit on how to make it work for me. I extensively use the Notes and Reminder features and feel I have integrated it into my own routine in just a few days. Here’s a link to a list of commands Siri can recognize. As a polite Minnesotan, I felt compelled to say thank you, to which it responds with a number of different phrases making it seem very conversational. This technology has big potential going forward. At this point the voice recognition is not perfect, but it is pretty good for a first release. A helpful tip is to spend some time in the Contacts also to add more metadata to your key contacts so you can take advantage of it in Siri (example: spouse).
There already are a number of external blog posts about fun things asked of Siri. Just for my amusement, I tried the following query to Siri. If you ask that question a few times, you will get different answers, also.
I have also setup my iCloud service. There was a little more involved here, but after a little work I now have my iPad, iPhone and Mac in synch. My favorite part of that feature is the ability to view pictures from all of the devices I have through this service so I no longer need to move them around by hand.
All in all, a very solid release again from Apple. If you already have an iPhone 4, it may not be a big leap, but if you are upgrading from a 3GS or prior, this is a no-brainer.