Siri on the iPhone 4S

Siri on the iPhone 4S

With less than 24 hours to go before Apple unveils the new iPad, speculation has risen to a deafening roar about what will appear on the new tablet. Last month I set out most of what was assumed about the iPad 3, up until this point very little of that has changed.

Here are the known knowns:

  • Retina display with a resolution of 2048 x 1536, most likely an IPS panel with dual backlights
  • Slightly thicker exterior case
  • A6 or A5x System-on-Chip with a PowerVR G6200/6400 GPU
  • Upgraded cameras on both sides, rear-camera likely to mirror that of the 4S in terms of video

Then comes what Donald Rumsfeld would refer to as the known unknowns, the things that are likely to happen eventually but not necessarily on this refresh.

A prime example of this is the ongoing debate as to what kind of cellular connectivity the third-generation iPad will include. Many have argued that for now Apple will stick with a 3G chipset; therefore satisfying all of its markets around the globe, keeping battery life within its current range and not affecting the price adversely. Others argue that LTE, often wrongly assumed to be 4G, will bring the iPad on par with Android tablets (like Apple cares) and will hardly affect the iPad’s huge battery.

At this stage it looks somewhat likely that Apple will include LTE connectivity which would demonstrate a rare early adoption for Apple.

The unveiling of the iPad 3 will undoubtedly coincide closely with the release of an updated version of iOS. Version 5.1 of the software has been in beta since November last year and hasn’t seen an update for over a month, it’s clear that 5.1 is waiting for the iPad 3. Clearly the update will include all those higher resolution graphics as well as a whole bunch of other bits and bobs. Most notably in 5.1 so far for both iPhone and iPad include fixes to battery life, WiFi connectivity, improvements to Assistive Touch to name a few.

The biggest feature of iOS 5 when it debuted alongside for the iPhone 4S was Siri, one of the headline features for the 4S Apple clearly considers Siri to be a serious selling point and has been touting it in adverts and other marketing materials. On an iPhone Siri makes a lot of sense. The ability to lift the phone to your ear, bark a command and Siri respond after running that command through Apple’s servers. In the car Siri can read a text and allow a reply to be dictated back. It is these types of uses that Siri was designed for and excels in.

The iPad is different, the iPad’s uses are different. Siri doesn’t make quite as much sense for the iPad. Siri requires an internet connection to work and a Wi-Fi only iPad doesn’t always have an internet connection making Siri useless in those situations. Whilst dictation certainly serves a purpose on the iPad, things like messaging, checking the weather, running searches aren’t entirely as relevant on the iPad. In fact key features of Siri which Apple have touted such as weather and alarms aren’t even possible. Neither are messages unless the person has iMessage.

Many consider Siri a gimmick on the iPhone, I don’t believe that to be the case. Siri is a great example of innovation on the iPhone, a new interface for interacting with a phone, an evolution beyond the touch-screen. On the iPad Siri would actually be a gimmick, serving a function but actually of little use.

Apple’s obsession with Siri on the iPhone has led many to believe in a proliferation of Siri across all of Apple’s devices. Many expect Siri to popup not just on the iPad but also the Apple TV and presumably eventually on the Mac. Don’t even get me started on how stupid it would be to shout at my TV. As for the iPad, I’d be surprised if Siri turned up tomorrow but Apple have done crazier things.