I’ve been playing around with my iPhone 4S for a while now and I think it’s huge. But differently huge than I had thought and my indicator was the time I spent playing around with all the different options.
Firstly Siri. We had quite a lot of conversations today in English and German and it mostly works like described in all of the reviews. The American Siri has some issues with my funny accent here and there but basically works fine. The reason you’ll use her is because you’re lazy and just don’t need to navigate through apps and type with a tiny keyboard to set up reminders (“remind me to put the presents in my suitcase” the day before I fly to Germany, “remind me to buy shampoo when I go out tomorrow” ), alarms and messages. All those little tiny things you probably wouldn’t do otherwise. That’s cool. And helpful.
But I think the big deal for Apple introducing Siri is not that it is a cool tool. It’s not an app called “voice recognition” or “personal assistant”. It has a name. This creates emotions. Smartphones already brought us computers as close as nothing before just because they were physically close to us all the time. Siri brings it even closer to you on a new level. This video is a funny example for what I mean:
The emotional connection will lead to the fact that you’ll miss her not having her at least as much as the technical help she provides. Switching to a different voice after having spent some time with her felt strange already. And if you use her on a day to day basis this will increase massively I think. Also as she is kind of a person you’ll be more indulgent with her making mistakes. Siri will lead to even more loyal customers and might be one of the biggest things in the long-term strategy of Apple because of that.
The second big deal for Apple which is not iPhone 4S related is iCloud. And not because of that syncing which makes life more convenient again. I think for Apple iCloud is about email, contacts and calendar. Every new iCloud user needs to set up an @me.com email address. That means apple did create millions of email accounts in the last days. Once you have it you can access it in the browser via iCloud and you get the feeling that you want to use it. Playing a little bit around with it you realise that you could now also manage your contacts and calendar in that interface. Siri makes both apps bigger as Apple contacts now contain relationships (“Siri, you want to know that Bernhard is my father” is saved in the address book record and leads to the fact that you can say “write a message to my father”) and calendar starts becoming useful because it contains the easy to set up reminders. So when you realise that you start wondering if you could actually move from GMail to iCloud for that stuff. And if people really start doing it I can imagine iCloud to hurt Google quite a bit and again lead to a long-term relationship between users and Apple.
iCloud I think is about getting people moving parts of their digital life in it. But not documents (how many documents and presentations does a private person normally have?!) but mail, calendar and contacts seem to me to be the big deals of it.
So my summary for today is: Siri is about emotions, iCloud about mail, contacts and calendar. The big deal is the connection of both.
[Update] Btw it’s a bit annoying if you already have an @me.com account which is not your iTunes account. You can’t merge them and so will have 2 iTunes accounts. One based on the email addy you created long time ago at Mobile Me which you’ll use for iCloud services and a seperate one for purchasing stuff in Apple’s stores. Had a chat with Apple to get it confirmed – the first time I did chat with their customer service and it was awesome! Sure, the result was disappointing but that guy took at least half an hour discussing options with me. Wow.