Why I ordered an iPhone 4S

Summary:I wasn't initially impressed with the iPhone 4S, but after giving it some thought I ordered one. Here's why.

When the new iPhone was announced, like many following the presentation I didn't initially see anything that made me want one. I felt it was a solid evolution of the iPhone line, but not extraordinary enough to make me want to open my wallet.

I have been reading everything I could find about the iPhone 4S since then, and I've watched many video demonstrations on the web. The potential I see in the iPhone 4S made me order one this weekend.

Like many I have spoken to about the new iPhone, I was hoping for a larger display in this model. I tend to like bigger screens on smartphones for doing things like surfing the web, but Apple deemed it better to keep the small display on the iPhone 4S. The inclusion of real 4G (not 3G simply labelled as 4G) would have been nice too, but I would honestly rather have solid 3G than sketchy 4G due to the heavy battery consumption of the latter.

I began considering the iPhone 4S this weekend when writing an article about all of the "me-too" Android phones. Thinking how most phones running Google's OS are similar, it made me want something totally different. The more I thought about it, the more I realized that Siri is what I have been craving for my phone.

I have long been an advocate for and user of voice technologies on both phones and computers. I jumped to use the Via Voice program from IBM years ago, and have used every major product to come along since. I have seen voice recognition technology get pretty good on smartphones, but something has been missing that keeps it from realizing what I believe could be its potential. The missing feature is artificial intelligence (AI) to help the technology understand me depending on what I am doing and where.

See also: I want my smartphone to "get" me

I wrote an article that described how I want my smartphone to understand me, and learn how/what I do by watching my routine usage. Researching Siri I realized that it is the basis for what I have wanted for so long. Sure it uses speech recognition to interpret the words spoken into it, but it smartly changes what it thinks based on what I am doing at the time. Better yet, it can figure out what I need based on location, which mimics what humans do in the real world. A simple example from the referenced article:

"My phone always knows where I am due to geolocation, and that can be leveraged to help me. If I get a phone call asking for a meeting across town at a certain time, when I enter it into my schedule on the phone it should warn me if the distance between the existing meeting before or after this one makes it unlikely I can make it. This could save me embarrassment by suggesting I offer a slightly adjusted meeting time for the new event."

Siri will have limits in its initial implementation but I expect it will evolve, and quickly. I foresee Siri eventually being integrated into every aspect of the iPhone and iPad. It will evolve to be a core part of iOS, and third party apps will tap into the AI. There is potential in Siri unprecedented in the mobile space, and I want to be a part of that evolution.

See also: The hurdles to overcome for voice control

I want my smartphone to "get" me, and I believe Siri is the path to turn my phone into an even more productive part of my day than phones have been to date. I want to have the Siri-enabled iPhone surprise me by smartly figuring out a way to better serve me, and to do that by anticipating what I want/need.

I will keep using my Nexus S 4G Android phone, as it is a good handset as good as most currently available. But it is just another Android phone in a big field of them; Siri and the iPhone 4S combined provides a breath of fresh air, and I look forward to using it alongside my Nexus.

What I ordered: a 32GB white iPhone 4S on the Verizon network. I went with Verizon instead of Sprint (with its unlimited data) because Sprint coverage in my area is not very good. Verizon's 3G is very solid and will give me much better bandwidth than that of Sprint. I was also surprised to see that Verizon is including 5-device hotspot service with the 5GB monthly iPhone data plan. That may be true of with iPhone plans on all carriers but I have not seen that mentioned.

Related:

Topics: Smartphones, Apple, Hardware, iPhone, Mobility, Telcos

About

James Kendrick has been using mobile devices since they weighed 30 pounds, and has been sharing his insights on mobile technology for almost that long. Prior to joining ZDNet, James was the Founding Editor of jkOnTheRun, a CNET Top 100 Tech Blog that was acquired by GigaOM in 2008 and is now part of that prestigious tech network. James' w... Full Bio

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